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The business of a small business

This year – as in the coming year – will be the year of understanding business.  I’ve worked for myself for a long time, most of my life in fact.  There have been small stints of a year or two where I had a position with a salary, health insurance and vacation, but that’s not the common pattern.

Mostly I worked as a freelancer, often as an animator, which in my case was generally long-ish projects.  Several months, possibly as many as 9 working for the same client, and maybe even working for the same client for several projects in a row.  I say this because while I’ve be a small business person most of my life, I’ve not had to worry about the cost of materials, maintaining stock or tying up money in parts or inventory. Before the only question I had to figure out was “how long is this going to take”, or the even easier “what can I do in the specified time”.  Now I have to estimate what people will want.  Will they want bright summery colors, long or short necklaces, an under $4o price point?  And since what people want in one place is different from another, it is always a bit of an unknown.

What brought this on was another lampworker’s discussion of how long it takes to build up a client base, how many pieces one needs to have for sale.  I’ve hit the first milestone time-wise – I’ve been keeping my shop active the past 6 months, but I am still ramping up the marketing efforts and the social media portion.  However, I am low on the “number of items” criteria.  Evidently there’s a difference if one has over 200 items.  Right now there are 62 items in my Etsy store – I had been around 85, but have happily made some a good number of sales last month.  So I won’t make 200 this year, but my pre new year’s resolution is 100 by the end of the year.  That is very doable, I have quite a few photographed and even more made but not photographed.  And putting this out there will help me actually get it done – ’cause I’ve told you I will.

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