Sunday, June 20, 2010

what i know about business ... part 1 ... getting started

I’ve only officially been in business for about six months so I’m no expert, but as this blog is my online journal, I wanted to record what I’ve learnt so far – for me to reflect on later, and maybe for others too. Today I thought I’d just start with the theme of getting started.

 
Until late last year, I didn’t know anything about small business, except that I wanted to have a go at it, so ...
Here’s what I needed to get started:
Inspiration ... I went to the Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show in 2009 and had a light bulb moment as soon as I saw the Incubator section ... there were “others” ... people who liked to make stuff that was cool, who were having a go and were happy to share their stories (thankyou!).
An idea ... I wanted to handprint fabrics with my own designs for use in my home and others if they liked them enough. Arriving back home after being at the Show that day, I found two printing books that I had ordered online a couple of weeks before waiting for me at the front door. With no background in graphic design or printing, I knew it was a sign ... it was meant to be.
Support ... I started blogging, thinking, drawing (I keep a visual diary), and talking about my ideas. I could not have done any of this without the support of my family.
Information ... I spent a whole afternoon at Small Business Victoria (government agency) ... I walked in and said “I’d like to start a small/tiny business. I know nothing about it. Please tell me everything you know”. The people there were wonderful -  I walked out with forms, pamphlets and a clear pathway to becoming a sole trader.
Research ... the internet is a great source of information, suppliers, ideas, inspiration, tax calculators ... you name it! Ask around, get recommendations, check things out for yourself and keep a record of contacts and/or information you might need in the future.
A plan ... I know everyone says it, but you DO need a plan! Don’t call it a business plan if the title freaks you out. My plan was a page long list and lasted 6 months (time for a new one now!). I listed what I wanted to achieve, how I was going to achieve it, how much time/money it would cost and when it would be completed. I’m happy to say that I have done everything in the plan as well as a bit more that I didn’t see coming six months ago. I have found that planning helps me understand the risks and benefits of what I am trying to do, making it easier to make reasonably informed decisions along the way.
Resources ... there are grants and other financial opportunities available to start small businesses (see your local council or government agency). To date I have funded everything myself – saving up to do the next thing in the plan.
Opportunities ... I took every offer of help that was presented to me – many clever people are very generous with their time and expertise. Ask questions.  Also, I have learnt that being in business opens up your eyes to other business ideas and opportunities you may not have noticed/thought of before.
Confidence ... Being true to my ideas and designs.
Connections ... Sharing the journey through my blog and with family and friends has been very rewarding and helpful. A fresh set of eyes is invaluable. Ask for constructive criticism often.

In short, getting started is hard and not hard all at once. I found making the decision the actually do it the hardest ... everything after that was just giving it a go and learning on the job. Loving what you do is the best ingredient for happiness, success and riding the business rollercoaster!

Well, that’s enough rambling for one day. Let me know what you think.

22 comments:

clare's craftroom said...

Excellent ! Down to earth honest advice , thanks so much .

Little Ted Canvas said...

Brilliant post, thanks for sharing! It sure is a gutsy step, starting your own business - one I am still frightened to delve into fully. I'm not sure what scares me more, that it is a complete failure or that it becomes a huge success! Good for you for seeing it through, you're a great inspiration with your beautiful designs, well done to you & thanks...

Jodie said...

Nic, I think you are amazing. The "business" stuff for me is something I really have to work at. I find it really difficult to be honest and have no plan at all.
I think this step by step stuff is great - maybe you could explain the ABN thingo and registering a business name etc...Those were the things I thought were going to be sooo hard and of course are not at all..

bubbachenille said...

You see it wasn't that hard after all ! I think the sentance about loving what you do, is the truest thing in all of this, and it certainly applies to me! It's nice to see the post in nice simple and relaxing terms too, takes the pressure off for all those thinking of doing this.

Copper Patch said...

Great post and a great inspiration. It makes me feel like am heading in the right direction...
Keep up the fabulous work,
Abbe

Wendy said...

Thanks, Nic---this is useful stuff. :) You should be thrilled with what you've accomplished in such a short time!

BOB & MABEL said...

Great post! I've been pottering away for a few years and have only recently started writing a business plan........ It took me weeks to put pen to paper and although I am nowhere near finished so far it isn't actually that difficult. I was also pleasantly surprised that I am feeling more confident about what I do since I started tackling the plan.
You are doing so well considering the very short time you've been in business, I love your stuff!

Posie Patchwork said...

You're so lucky!! I can assure you, 10 years ago being a young mother trying to start a craft business, can't tell you how many people laughed at me!! This is so much more encouraging news for young players. I guess, doing it all off my own back, with 4 children & moving all the time, i now fund our family so i got something right - don't under estimate the determined mother blokes, just don't!! Love Posie

Thea said...

This is a great list Nic. I would add "Perseverance" with a capital 'P'. A very successful business women I know told me that 90% of people give up when they are 90% there...

sue niven said...

fabulous post! I wish you all the best, and all the success you dream of always.

melissa said...

What a fantastic post! You have done so well in such a short space of time and it's very generous to share with others. :)

Tweed Delights said...

Great post Nic - sound advice for those starting out on this 'rocky' but super-fun rollercoaster ride in business crafts. I've been tempted to jump off a few times, but something keeps me going - I guess I love it! :) Thanks for sharing!

CurlyPops said...

I had no idea that you weren't previously trained in graphic design (which is a huge compliment to your skills).
Good on you for having a dream, and then putting in all the hard work to make it happen.
I hope you have every success you've ever dreamed of!

74 Lime Lane said...

I didn't realise you had no graphic design training either! This is great Nic, really simple honest advice. Top post.

Nick said...

Great post. I have been very scared to say out loud that I wanted to run a small business/cottage industy, but last week turned me. (I had a successful Friday and feel alot more confident) With advice like this I am going to commit to something and create a plan.I'll be back...

Cath @ chunkychooky said...

Plan? Yikes.... I know I should have one... but I don't have... I have a vague list of goals and just flip and flap around from one thing to the next.... I should probably have more of a plan though...Great post Nic.

flowerpress said...

I think the learning curve is one of the most exciting things!
And it helps so much to have such wonderful feedback coming in from different sides, that inspires me so much.
Thanks for sharing :-)

Chicken Willow said...

Great post Nic, very helpful and informative. Thanks xx

Little Eve said...

Thanks Nic, it's an inspiration to hear your story. A plan is a great idea which i should get around to doing! It would help at times when you feel overwhelmed with looking after the family etc and feel out of touch with your business. Thanks!

beck said...

Like all those who have left comments already I found this a really inspiring post Nic. Your story is fascinating, I admire your determination and faith in yourself. I hope you keep going with this topic, I'm sure you have much more to share. Thanks and hi to Archie xo

Juicy Roo said...

YOU GO GIRL! Your post is fab. I'm amazed you had no background in graphics etc. You've accomplished a lot in a brief amount of time, well done! You've reminded me to remind myself to stick to a plan! (I think its the biggest challenge for creative people!)

Sarah said...

Thanks for the advice. I took your word on Small Business Victoria: they really do offer a lot!
My own projects start in earnest in a week when I go part-time. Whoo-hoo! And scary