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How I organize myself in my Craft Business: Part 1 – Paper Work

Hello!! to you all and any new visitors form Alicia’s dreamy blog. So sorry I haven’t been posting in forever. I had some serious blogging block (which you have been so kind helping me through). I’ve also been run off my feet because my lovely bloke is away so I have been extra busy. Never mind; I’m back and sooo invigorated by all of your post suggestions; please keep ‘em coming! :)

So to start I am going to tackle Craft Business organization. I am going to do this in parts because there are a few organisational areas of running a business that need looking at in turn (at it will make it all look less scary). Spend a bit of time each day staying organised and it will only benefit your business, help you to remain focused, and far less stressed out!

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Yep! Like; I’m on top of it!

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Different types of business paper work & what to do with all:

  • Invoices/receipts for all of the materials that you buy for your business - and this means every single thing you purchase to run your business; from a pearl button to a laptop, from a weaving loom to the phone bill. Be absolutely strict about keeping every one of your receipts. Keep all unpaid invoices in date order in one place to help you plan and prepare your budget to get them paid. When they have been paid store them in date order newest first. A big lever arch file is great for this job because after you have sorted them in date order they won’t move around and become unsorted. As for book keeping I can’t say much about that because I’m a maths dummy so I have a nice friendly account to do all of that for me :)
  • Invoices/receipts for sales you have made in your business - because my business is online sales only I have access to all sales receipts from day 1 to the present day. I usually don’t need them to work with them, but every now and again a customer will call up and say ‘x was missing from my order can you check it out?’ so I can look up their invoice and fix the problem. It’s good to keep hold of sales invoices (at least for 3 months) because besides helping you to tally up your weekly sales figures, they include useful information like the customer address (so you can with permission include the customer in a newsletter campaign), you can also read through your sales to get a feel for what products are popular and not so popular in your shop.
  • Supplier catalogues and price lists- sometimes these things are flipping hard to get hold of, other times you get sent a forest of them! Get organised and store the ones you use in a file or a magazine rack, store them in order of materials type, and throw outdated catalogues away.
  • Business cards – staple the suppliers card to the relevant cover of the supplier catalogue. As for the other cards try writing a little note the back of each business card stating why the person is important to you and then store in a Rolodex in materials type (or business) type and in alphabetical order.
  • Sketches, product development, and craft business ideas - it is on scraps of paper that ideas which will rock the world are born, but only if they DON’T get left in your jeans and put in the wash. What I do is carry around an A5 sized Moleskine with me wherever I go. Should a flash of inspiration occur on the train or at home I can record all of my bag designs, all of my ideas for moving my business forward, blog post ideas, business to do lists all in one place. And no, I have never ever mislaid my Moleskine; it’s not an option. I have gotten through 8 of these books now and I keep them all safe because I look through them every now and again as often the old ideas are just as important as the new ones. Store all sketches, inspiration images such as magazine rips, photos fabric swatches, design notes, and other material samples in a way that makes sense to you. This might be on a big mood board, all a big sketch book, or in a folder. Then you can leave part-developed ideas and return to them later to then develop them to fruition. This is all vital because we all spend so much time designing, day-dreaming, and researching and if we you don’t store all of these plans properly we are wasting a precious lot of time and maybe mislaying ideas which could have had the potential to become business dynamite!

Shopping for my shop and why you NEED your loyal customers now.

Thank you so much for your valuable feedback on my blog block post and your really nice comments about this blog, aw I’m really touched :)  Do please keep adding any more suggestions to that post if you have any.

So I have taken your comments into consideration and I have some posts planned which will appear from Monday onwards. At the moment I have a frightening amount of photography and processing of new items for my shop. You wait for ages then box after box after box of deliveries arrive and you can’t get into the office for all of the boxes and bubble wrap. Scary!

I think even in this economic slow down it’s still important to re-invest in your business. It’s just that at this moment and time you have to be more careful than usual with how you spend your budget. I think it’s important to stock new and different items to keep your inventory fresh and exciting. This gives your loyal customers a reason to pop in regularly. It is at times like this that loyal customers will be instrumental in helping you stay afloat. New customers are also very important, but loyal customers are wonderful because hopefully you have already made them happy with your service and products and you already have a rapport with them.

So with that in mind for my shop I have gotten my mitts on some yummers new leather and faux leather handles, most of which (to my knowledge – and blimey have I checked!) aren’t for sale anywhere else. I have bought a wide choice of designs, but in smaller numbers per style. Hopefully this means I have been more strategic with my budget because I will be able to see which designs my customers prefer and it also makes the shop appear better stocked.

What all of this? It’s a lot of photography and Photoshop work; that’s what!

I need your help! I have Craftboom blog block…

Sorry I have not been posting on this blog. I have been sooo busy with my shop and what not, but the main reason for my absence is I am short on ideas of what post about. Urghh! I’ve racked my brain (cell) and even the hamster on the wheel is having a break. If Craftboom! was a ‘ramble about your personal goings on’ kind of blog, I wouldn’t mind so much, but this is more an infoblog so I feel like I am kind of letting the side down and this won’t do.

So seeming as this blog is more for you lovely readers I’m asking you what you would like to see in it. I would love it if you could please comment on this post and tell me what I can try to help you with. Perhaps you’d like:

  • to know more about marketing,
  • to know more about how I run my shop,
  • to know more about other people’s craft shops
  • more interviews
  • you may have specific craft business issues you’d like looked at
  • to know my favourite Krispy Kreme Donut flavour
  • to have more guest posts
  • more anecdotal stuff
  • to know more about blogging
  • more tecchie stuff

So please suggest away; the more the merrier. I’ll read each one of your suggestions carefully.  You’d be doing me a big favour which I hope to repay by writing the kind of posts that you want to read :)

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In my head there’s nothing much going on except for this hamster (and even he’s fast asleep!)

Choosing a name for your Craft Business

Getting the right name for your business is very important and it’s a decision that will accordingly require a good amount of thinking through.

Why is the Business Name so important?

Well, it’s one of the first things that the public will notice about your company, that and your logo, and then your strap-line (if you have one – and you should). Those three things combine together to make up your brand identity. Thus making your company easy to identify and to understand (both of which are very important in any business).

Take a minute to think of Martha Stewart, and Amy Butler, and Purl Soho. As well as knowing what products they sell we also know what their logos, and their fonts, and their company colours look like (and this didn’t happen by magic!)

I don’t have background in web or graphic design so I can’t help you with that knock-out logo. It’s definitely worth getting a professional in to do that job if you can’t do it yourself, but I can help with getting choosing a craft business name.

Things to consider when choosing a company name:

  • Check for the website domain- whatever you choose check to see if the website domain name is available for you to buy. Even if you are not ready for your own website now you may well be in the near future.
  • Be descriptive – I think my own business name ‘U-Handbag’ is somewhat descriptive of what I do. I sell things to make handbags – hence the word ‘Handbag’ , and it is you making the handbag, and the bag is yours, and the bag is unique – hence the letter ‘U’.
  • Keep it simple – a good name will be short, catchy, and trip off the tongue. A long name is a pain in the butt to write, looks bad on business stationary, and it makes for a hard to remember website name.
  • How does it look – this might sound funny, but try writing down your business name choices and collaborate with your logo designer to see how your name looks on paper and importantly how it looks when incorporated with your logo.
  • How does it sound – as well as looking good on paper your name should be pleasant to say and appealing to hear. This one is hard to define, but you know how some babies names just sound a bit off and some babies names sound lovely? Well it’s kind of the same for business names…
  • How memorable is it - ask yourself and ask others how memorable is your business name. Does it strike a chord with people? Ask people what they feel/what images are conjured up/what judgments are they making when presented with your chosen business name choices. The more folks you can ask the better. This all might sound like a bit of a pain or it even might sound like overkill, but really if you are willing to make your beautiful craft into the early hours then a bit of time spent on doing this research isn’t going to hurt and it’s worth it.
  • Careful with the comedy – when used appropriately comedy is great for sales and giving a positive image of a company, but used inappropriately it can make your company look unprofessional. Also things spelt like ‘bagz’ jelwz, etc. etc. etc. can look a bit tacky (IMHO).
  • Using your own name – Some folks such as Amy Butler & Martha Stewart use their own names to name their company to great effect, but us mere mortals can’t do that because we don’t (yet) possess the strong brand identity that these 2 women names have. So if you name your business ‘Cathy’s Pottery’ (for example) the business name won’t necessarily be very memorable…
  • Look around you - what town do yo work in, do you work on a converted factory, workshop, etc., what famous landmarks are nearby, is there a loved on in your family history that has a nice sounding name, is there a name of a craft technique or craft material that you use that you like the sound of? These are just a few things that might inspire a business name; just remember to keep things relevant.

See also: How to name your craft items in your craft business.

And the winner of a shiny new Craft Website is…

Phew! I was just in time to collect my washing off the line before a downpour, and the moment I’ve taken the last item down the sun breaks through the clouds. Good ol’ summer eh?

Righty, so there were 32 entrants to this very exciting draw to win your very own custom designed website showcase and sell your craft gorgeousness. The Random Number generator stopped on the number 29.

Up for grabs was a custom designed website worth over £300 ($600)!!

So will Sue who said:

“I’d love to be able to be able to look after people buying for their own shops (wholesale queries) and people who’ve found me direct.

Also i take things to craft fairs, so to have an option of having the site on hold for the few hours i am at a fair would be good, it means people online and people in person get to see and enjoy everything i’ve crafted

but most of all i want it to be easy, i want to spend my time being creative making things to sell, and have a lovely beautiful place online to sell them. So my feature request would be that’s it’s lovely, is loveliness a feature i hope so?”

Please contact me either by comment or message and I’ll hook you up with Ed who will weave his magic web designer stuff! Congratulations! :)