No doubt about it, starting, running, and maintaining a home-based craft business takes self-discipline. Distractions and interruptions are going to be a part of your daily life, whether it is the gorgeous weather outside, a friend or family member who drops by, or calls you to go do something with them, as well as those days where you just do not feel like doing anything. However, the health and stability of your business will rely, to a great degree, on your ability to stick to a schedule, maintain deadlines, and capacity to deal with those distractions and interruptions. This article will offer a few tips on how to better manage your time for the ultimate success of your business.
Sticking to a Schedule
Operating your own home-based craft business comes with a variety of perks, which include, but are not limited to, running your business when you feel like it. Actually, you can run your business in your pajamas if you want, and work in the mornings, the evenings, or in the middle of the night, depending on your schedule and your preferences.
However, you will also need to be accessible to your customers and clients. This means maintaining a certain attitude in regard to your business hours, as well as your ability to keep track of invoices, blocking off periods of time to create your crafts, filling orders, and shipping them out in a timely manner. A home-based business is definitely not a 9 to 5 job. When you are first starting out, you may find yourself working well into the evening and on weekends and holidays.
It is not always easy to separate your business from your home life. For example, setting a work schedule is a lot easier said than done. Whenever possible, separate your home business from the rest of your living environment. Use a spare room, the garage, the basement, or attic for your crafting, and think of it as a professional office. Designate a certain number of work hours a day to conduct your business, and to design and develop your crafts.
If you have small children, it may be more difficult to divide your time between family responsibilities and business, but try to set basic guidelines for when you cannot be interrupted. Spouses, older children, and other family members and friends need to respect this time.
Cons Of Working At Home
When you do not punch a time clock, or have a boss looking over your shoulder to make sure that a certain amount of work is done every day, it is easy to get lax and sloppy. You may say, "Well, I can always put this off until tomorrow." The problem with that is this usually snowballs.
When you work at home, it is easy to gaze out the window, decide to take the dog for a walk, run errands, watch TV, and avoid what has to be done. Unfortunately, such work habits tend to hamper, rather than enhance, your productivity. Yes, you need to take some time off to keep your brain and creativity fresh, but designate such time periods during the day or on a weekly basis to prevent temptation.
Dealing with Interruptions and Distractions
Most home-based crafting business owners and independent contractors complain of the constant flow of interruptions when working at home. For some reason, people who punch a time clock think that anybody who works at home is not really working. The truth is, home-based business owners often work harder, longer, and more consistently than those who have to punch a time clock, because their very livelihoods depend on their dedication and focus on their business.
When dealing with interruptions, follow a few tips, such as:
- Be firm: Whether it is children or adult family members, try to stick to the same work hours and routines so that your family grows accustomed to when it is okay to bother you, and when it is not.
- Keep your priorities straight: Yes, family comes first, and there are times when interruptions and events are beyond your control. However, try to focus on daily and weekly goals when it comes to the amount of work you need to have completed, and do not deviate.
- Take care of interruptions as efficiently and quickly as possible, and then get back to work.
- Try not to allow interruptions to disturb your creative flow, whether you are designing, building, or creating a craft. With time, you will become more adept at this, and be able to take more distractions or interruptions in stride.
Establishing Good Work Habits
Determine how long you can work on a certain aspect of your business without taking a break. For example, you may need to spend a certain amount of time every day going over your finances, invoices, and shipping orders. Another portion of your day may be dedicated to designing, creating, or building your craft. Some of us need more frequent breaks than others.
You may find, after some experimentation, that you create better in the morning, than in the afternoon. You may find you are more able to deal with the financial obligations of your business better after hours, than first thing in the morning. Play around with your schedule until you find the times of day that work best for you, for what you need to do.
Take regular breaks, depending on your needs. For example, you may need to get up every hour and take a walk around the block, take care of a household chore, or merely close your eyes and relax for a while. While your break times should not be set in stone, they should offer you the opportunity to rest and replenish your brain and help you focus on the next task or aspect of your business, as required.
Allow a certain amount of time each day for answering emails, updating your website or blog, and answering inquiries regarding your craft. Whenever possible, focus on your work without the distractions of televisions or music, unless you actually happen to work better with such noise in the background.
Most importantly, do not put off until tomorrow, what you can do today. Such is the bane of a home-based business, and the hardest thing to gain control of. It takes the most self-discipline and dedication. As a home-based craft business owner, it is inevitable that you are going to have to learn to work with a certain number of interruptions and distractions on a daily basis.
However, by maintaining a fairly regular work schedule and routine, you can learn to manage your time, decide which tasks take priority over others, and divide your workday into easily manageable chunks, so that you can balance family responsibilities and obligations with your business.
Remember that there is no right way or wrong way to manage time when it comes to your home-based craft business. Be willing to experiment and explore different options, and do what works best for you. Maintaining a home-based business is an ongoing effort, and rules are not set in stone regarding how you achieve your business success. Diligence, focus, and setting short-term, as well as long-term, goals will ultimately benefit you, your business, and your family and workplace environment.
Your business will not get very far if you do not get paid for your crafts. Keeping track of sales and invoices may also take a chunk out of your day. You also need to determine a variety of payment methods essential for the success of your business. Keep in mind that people typically require a variety of choices when it comes to payment options. Whenever possible, cater your payment options to meet the needs of the widest number, and age group, of potential clients.
Common Payment Methods
The most common methods for receiving payment for your crafts will be online. The three most common methods:
- Online payment services, such as PayPal
- Credit cards
- Traditional payment methods, such as money orders, checks, or cash are still viable options.
When starting a home-based craft business, it is a good idea to set up a separate bank account for that business at your local bank. This makes it much simpler to separate personal and business expenses and income, and will make things a lot easier when it comes time to file your annual income taxes, or when paying estimated taxes.
Accepting Different Payment Options
While you want to make purchasing your crafts as easy on customers as possible, realize that accepting credit cards may require some setup and transaction fees. Such fees will depend on the type of business you operate. Details for such transactions will also depend on the overall amount of individual transactions you process. Today, you can use your computer's Internet access to set up credit card accounts, but look into different companies to determine monthly charges, leasing fees, and any necessary accessories or equipment.
Prior to accepting credit cards, you will need to be granted what is calledmerchant status, or authorization to receive and accept credit card payments. This can be a little tricky for beginners, but do your homework, ask questions, and log onto forum boards or discussion groups to see what works best for other home-based crafters.
Checks, Money Orders, and Cash
Many of your customers may prefer to pay by check or money order. While this may delay the shipping process, it is also one of the most secure ways of doing business for many consumers. Create a payment policy for customers that offers your business address and a business name, they should make checks out to, and then be sure to specify processing time for those checks. In most cases, once deposited, checks may be credited to your account within 1 to 2 business days, although checks over $500 to $1,000 dollars may require a hold placed on that check until it clears your bank.
Setting Up Your Bookkeeping System
Regardless of what type of payment options you offer your customers, you need to take the time to properly organize your finances on a weekly or monthly basis. The two most important records you will need to keep, are your order sheets and your payments received sheets.
Keep track of orders received, those that have been filled and shipped, and follow up to make sure that orders have been received. You may also find it quite handy to set up a balance sheet that keeps track of monthly assets, or income, as well as money that is still owed to you. Keep track of your inventories, your net number of purchases, and your inventory on a monthly basis.
To Sum Up
Ten Tips for Home-Based Business Success
We have pretty much covered the basics of starting your own home-based craft business -- some of the most obvious details of how to create a business name, how to determine what types of crafts you are going to sell, and targeting your markets. We have briefly offered you thoughts regarding marketing basics and utilizing the computer, not only to sell your crafts, but to reach the masses. You have learned the best way to purchase supplies, and how to determine the cost of your crafts.
You have also learned the basic do's and don'ts of customer service, as well as very basic financial obligations you may meet when running your craft business. Learning how to manage your time, and getting paid, are important aspects of your business that will help you succeed.
We are going to conclude by offering 10 simple tips for home-based business success. Of course, there are many other ways to succeed in your business, but these will give you at least a jumping-off point and help you come up with other ways, methods, and strategies that you can incorporate in your craft business for success.
#1 - Take your time, and research your craft and its demand in the marketplace. Most importantly, enjoy the type of craft you design or create. Your passion and your love of your craft will shine through in your quality product.
#2 - Remember that customer service is essential to the success of your business. Whether you are big or small, local or international, your customers will determine the success or failure of your business. Treat them right, and they will treat you right.
#3 - Keep good records, not only to avoid mix-ups and mistakes when filling shipping orders, but to enhance your savings and avoid headaches at tax time.
#4 - Create a streamlined, effective, and professional looking website to attract customers. Keep your website address (URL) short, easy to spell, and easy to remember. Do not forget to search engine optimize (SEO) your website and blog, and take full advantage of social networking, linking, and listing your website in online craft directories.
#5 - Create quality products and crafts. Whether you are making fishing lures, bird houses, or Native American dream-catchers, put the utmost quality materials and effort into every craft you create. This will ensure your reputation, and let customers know that you take pride in your craft and business.
#6 - Create a good reputation, not only for your craft, but your customer service. Remember that first impressions count, and very well may generate a loyal and recurring customer -- or drive potential customers away.
#7 - Continually strive to improve your craft, your skills, and your ability to offer a variety of crafts to your customers. If you focus on one specific craft, make it the best it can be, and use your imagination and dedication to offer variations, customized items, and keep your craft skills fresh and current with ongoing trends.
#8 - Keep your overhead low. Stick to just the basics and do not get carried away with fancy tools or equipment that you do not need right now. As your business grows, you can always update and purchase additional supplies, tools or equipment, but save where you can, especially when starting out.
#9 - Do your best to create an invoicing and payment system that is efficient and timely. Encourage your customers to pay by cash or credit card before you ship out items. Set up a customer service and payment policy that offers returns and guarantees whenever possible.
#10 - Learn from your mistakes. You are bound to make a few when starting out. Learn from them, grow from them, and always do your best to rectify errors or mistakes to improve your reputation, customer service, and feedback.
Remember that anything in life worth having is worth working for. While it will not always be easy, you can rest assured that starting a home-based craft business is exciting and challenging. Weather the ups and downs, and keep your eyes and your goals focused on both short-term and long-term achievements and milestones.
Dive in, enjoy your passion, and always be ready, willing, and able to share your passion and your craft with others. Congratulations - you are on your way!