Friday, 18 February 2011

Setting up a creative business from your kitchen table



Did you know that, in the USA, women who stay at home and look after the kids are called SAHMs? (stay at home mums) and that women who work from home are called WAHMs? Personally, I can't see the difference - whether its child rearing or paid employment, they are both "work" in my opinion. 
Whether you are a SAHM or a DAHM (more dads are staying home to look after the kids these days) or neither, you might be considering starting a creative business from home.  I have always been inspired by Laura Ashley, who started her famous homewares business making screen printed tea towels from her kitchen table.  But there's so much more to setting up a creative business from your kitchen table than just making lovely things. You will need to have (or learn) a multitude of skills - most of which you will already have - even if you didn't know it. 


But, before you start sending out press releases for the launch of your new cottage industry, take a few minutes to consider if you have what it takes to run a small business. What do you want from your creative business?
a)  You enjoy making and want to earn enough money to pay for a few treats 
b)  You need to make some money in the short term until you start a job
c)  You want to work for yourself and you want to make a success of selling your creative products.


Follow this Link to find out If You Have What It Takes (but don't forget to come back to read the rest of this post).  


So, what are these additional skills that you need to acquire to start your business from the kitchen table?
Manufacturer - you are making your product therefore you are a manufacturer.
Accountant - you already manage your domestic finances. It's basically the same thing, money goes out and, hopefully, more money comes in.
Trader - you have to sell your product to your customer.
Marketer - you know how great your product is - how do you tell others?
Designer - you need to develop your product in order to attract more sales. 


Your Start Up Business Tool Kit
Here is a list of the basics you will need at the start of your new enterprise.
1.  Office equipment - two vital bits of office equipment that you will need are: a computer and a phone. You probably already own both but spend wisely on equipment - do you really need that photocopying and laminating machine? Anything else is a luxury - only to be purchased when you are making a profit.


2.  Keeping accounts - start as you mean to go on by setting up a simple spreadsheet and logging all money going out and all money coming in. You don't need a separate bank account but you do need evidence of your business finances.


3.  Stationery - letterheaded paper will not only make your business look professional but many companies will not pay an invoice that isn't on letter headed paper.  Business cards tell everyone who you are and enables them to contact you at a later date.


4.  Website/blog/Facebook page - having just one of these will help you to market your product. Rather than spend all your money on a super slick website, blogging is free and you can design your blog to have all the features of a reasonable website. Facebook is also free and you don't have to make "friends" to attract people to your FB page. 


5.  Training - invest in your business by getting yourself onto some basic business workshops such as: book keeping, taxation and national insurance, marketing, costing and cashflow, legal framework for the self employed.  Look around for workshops that are directed at creatives.


Recommended reading for the creative entrepeneur - Business as Unusual by Anita Roddick
Finally, do you have something to say? why not write for Artists in Business? We will post your stories, experiences and advice about your art business in Artists in Business.  Just send us an email HERE

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