It's not often I sit down to write a serious blog post, but as I've spent the last few hours pouring over business profit and expense reports and tax information, I think it's about time to have a real, serious chat with myself (and any of you who are interested in the business side of this little business).
Let's start with a basic fact: owning a small business is hard work. And it's a lot of work.
I've always said I'm not in this for the money, but because I love what I do. And that will always hold true. If it's not fun, it's not something I want to be spending my hours doing.
So how many hours are we talking about?
Looking at my tracked time for the last few months, on average I spend 25-35 hours per week actively working on this business. Some weeks are much more than this. That's not hours of painting and drawing, but of answering client emails, marketing and advertising, photographing items, writing proposals and contracts, researching manufacturers and suppliers, etc. This is on top of the 40 hours I work at my full-time job and the hours of work my husband and brother-in-law put in cutting and staining all the signs that leave the studio, or all the work for the shows and festivals we attend.
These pie slices are totally approximate and guesses on my part. And I'm sure I'm missing a million other things I do on a daily basis.
So here's where I'm going to get real. When looking at my net profit for last year, I brought in far less than the minimum wage (for any state in the US). I brought in a wage that, even if I upped my hours to full time, would have me living far below the poverty line.
You could say that it is still great for a side business, and I won't deny that we've done a lot of fun things with the extra money I've brought in. But it also signals to me that I need to figure out a way to work smarter, not harder.
As part of this work, I'm going to share some of my strategies, what's working for me and what needs to change ASAP. I'll be looking at the pros and cons of Etsy, Etsy ads/promoted listings (I'm scared to admit how much I spent last year on these!), art shows and festivals, pricing and more.
If there's something you would like to know, leave me a message in the comments or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully my reflection can help us all be more profitable small business owners!