{Gussy Biz Series – business tips :: part 2}

Yesterday I posted {Gussy Biz Series – organizing :: part 1} of my three-part series. I shared how to organize your email, blog, along with some info on Google Docs.

Today is part 2 and we’re going to talk business!

I am sooo excited about this one. Pretend you just arrived at our home and are now sitting on our red couch. Isn’t this fun? I’m glad you’re here to talk over coffee. So grab a mug — let’s get started!

There are many aspects to running your own business, and Google Docs gets me through this with the least amount of stress. I’m able to create documents to help me organize all there is to do. Here’s a basic example of my schedule each week:

  • work my day job from 9-5, M-F
  • come home, relax for 30 minutes — review my Daily Docket
  • start one of many things: cut fabric; iron; sew; order supplies; organize blog posts {review my blog calendar}; design new Gussy products
  • cook dinner. eat dinner + chat with hubbs for about an hour {this hour together is very important!}
  • Zack cleans up dinner, I get back to work and usually work until 12 or 1 am
  • bed time!
  • repeat M-F
  • weekend ends include time with hubby; sewing; grocery shopping/chores; relaxing; and the occasional cry of “I can’t do allllllllll of this on my own.
  • repeat entire list!

After enough crying I decided to hire an Assistant. She comes 2x/week and packages my Gussy orders. Best. Decision. Ever. to hire her! Last week she did a few more things for me and I felt as though my heart was dispensing little bubbles of happiness.

Can I get a yeow?

Seriously. If you have a business and could use a little extra help, I really encourage you to consider it. I might have avoided hiring someone for a few weeks, when I really could have used the help, but I now know how valuable my assistant is and I won’t hesitate next time!

Now, I realize a lot of you have children, and wonder, How am I supposed to make all that work? And this is where I say you need to talk to your husband. When things started to get really busy I was doing too much on my own. It didn’t take long for Zack to notice and pretty much take over a lot of things. But it was still hard to let him help because I WANTED TO DO IT ALL MYSELF!

And I realized after a few days that I couldn’t, so I threw in the towel {literally} and together we worked out a plan for our family, redistributing chores and such. Having additional responsibilities {like taking care of yourself {SO IMPORTANT!}, being married, having children, owning a home, having another job, etc.} requires you organize your time well. And when you do you’ll thank yourself. Or me. Or yourself.
For me, organizing my time required two things:

  • moving my computer OUTSIDE of the sewing room, and
  • turning off all Gmail notifications on my computer as well as my email alerts on my iPhone

I needed to think of my business as a real business, because it is a real business.

When you’re at most “traditional” jobs {what does traditional even mean anymore?!}, the company’s phone rings ONLY at the front desk, and it rings silently, too. Why should I allow my business phone {my email} to ring and distract me? Clearly it was time to make some changes with the volume level.

Maybe you have to learn this for yourself, on your own, and that is OK! Like I said before, you need to know what works for you. Trial and error can often be the best teacher.

So what is “The Secret” to making it work?

I have the answer.

Are you ready to hear it, to believe it?


The secret is this: you + trial & error = success
 When I started blogging I was so totally unsure how to make all this work. Then I thought, Maggie, how do you organize your personal life? With a calendar. So organize your blog with a calendar, too.

Then I wondered, If I want to sew _________, where can I get the pattern?

The answer?

Maggie, you are just learning how to sew. Why not draw one up yourself? And so I did. And then I learned how and why things went together. I think most importantly I learned of alternative ways to do things; I learned what works for me.

You see, while yes, we’re all crafters, women, wives, mothers, ____________, we are all unique in the way we learn. And in our personalities. And I strongly believe that our work should be a reflection of who we are deep inside. So if you are unsure how to do something, why not challenge yourself to figure it out on your own? :]

And then, once I was blogging more & more, my inbox started to fill up with emails. And I started to feel overwhelmed. So I created filters {read about them here} and fixed that problem {brushes the dirt off my hands…}. Some emails I receive require immediate attention. Others do not. You know how it is…

Other things that have helped my business:

  • money. Let’s just throw that on the table now. It helps to have a little money. Even if you are putting most of your paycheck back into your business, having the money in the first place is helpful. I probably put 6 months of Gussy income entirely back into the business before I started making the dough. But remember, I started completely from scratch. If you already have a process streamlined, already have “a following”, this may be easier for you
  • making friends. Some of the people I now communicate with daily or weekly are people I met through blogging or crafting. I have friends, I have mentors. I have friends that are mentors.
  • wholesale. Again, let’s be honest. If you own a business you know you need to buy at wholesale price. This shouldn’t make you feel weird, and buyers shouldn’t feel weird now that I’ve “put it on paper”. Most items that are mass produced are available at wholesale price
  • research. Don’t know how to do something? Look it up. Still don’t know? Look it up again. Try and resort to “asking for help” for last. When you figure it out on your own you’ll 1.) Be super happy and proud of yourself, and 2.) You’ll remember how to do it for next time
  • sponsoring other blogs. Aka: Advertising. Be bold — send the blog an email, ask for the rates, decide if it’s a good investment. AND JUST DO IT! I’ve found many blogs that offer low rates or no charge at all. No, I can’t share this info. Do yourself a favor and look it up yourself I’ve noticed how much of a “Miss Independent” I’ve become because of this business
  • streamline your system. The day I learned how to be 50% more efficient is a day I’ll never forget. {See below.}
  • time. Oh, this is a good one! Time, time, time. Think of how huge the internet is. Think of how many people use the internet. Now think about your blog. Or your shop. Think of how you can get the word out, realize it takes time connecting with others {as do all quality relationships}. Realize you have to earn their trust. Embrace time. Use it to your advantage. Now get to work, because you certainly don’t have time to doddle.

Here’s an example of streamlining your system:

  • organize/gather all materials you need for a batch of product
  • cut all materials
  • iron all materials
  • collect all materials needed for each individual product {ie. outside fabric, inside fabric, interfacint, ruffle, etc.}
  • group products {by ruffle color} to limit how often the thread needs to be changed on your sewing machine
  • sew
  • say, Amen because you’re finished

It takes the same amount of time to get out and put away all needed materials, so why not streamline your process to make the most of your organized time?

Other ways I organize my sewing process:

  • materials are organized by type, color, how often you use them, etc.
  • shipping materials are grouped together so it’s easy to package orders
  • set up my ironing board so I can easily use it when sewing {having to walk into another room is such a waste of time!}


PS. Having an organized work station makes it super easy to know when it’s time to re-order!

Blogs/Posts I heart…

Blogs I heart I subscribe to via Google Reader {or RSS feed} This makes it sew easy to keep my little thumb on top of them all. Did you know you can even have new blog posts sent to your INBOX? Amazing. And really, how perfect.

Special posts, whether it be blogging purposes or crafting purposes, I put in a folder titled Blog or Crafting. I know, I’m so hard to understand ;] When I’m looking for inspiration, want to link to that post, or finally have a minute to read it, it’s there.

Bank accounts

In our family, we share money. Zack’s paystub from his job is ours; My paystub from my job is ours. However, we do have separate accounts for personal and business to help us manage things. But in the end, it’s all the same pool of delicious moolah.

Maybe you’re wondering about Credit Cards? Ummm. Credit Cards don’t exist in our family. End of story.

Spreading the word about your wares

This might very well be my favorite part of having my own business. Aside from sewing, of course. There are a handful of online tools I use to create Gussy buzz. Here they are:

  • facebook. use your profile page AND create a fan page
  • twitter. share funny things about your day, offer special promotions, etc.
  • flickr. share your work!
  • my email signature. include your tagline, plus blog, shop and twitter URLs
  • email newsletter. these are so fun, and a great way to share new products. Sign up for the Gussy newsletter here
  • create a gravatar. people like familiarity
  • product review posts. Nothing like a review to spread the word!
  • product giveaways. Nuff said

Be inspired!

Find things that make you happy, find people that make you happy. It can be so tough having your own business, being your own boss, being responsible for your paycheck. But!!! But it is so fun. But it is so rewarding. But there’s nothing quite like sharing encouragement, excitement, and inspiration with those that love you.

Closing thoughts:

Have fun with your blog and shop. If you haven’t already, invest some time and money into site design*, making sure you have a standard color palette {thanks, Darcy!} and brand. You want people to recognize you! Consider tidying up your blog with a navigation bar through the help of pages. If you sell something, have an up-to-date Policy page. Be yourself. Have fun. Be proud of what you do.

*Some blog designers I recommend:
Darcy {her queue is closed until Fall, but you need to get on her list!!!}
Leigh-Ann
Fabulous K

Have a question? Have a thought? Leave a comment. xo.
Check back Thursday for my final post: {Gussy Biz Series – Q&A :: part 3}
 

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    Your posts have been really helpful! I’m new to sewing and loving every minute of it! (I’m mostly a knitter!) If I ever decide to start a shop, I’ll be sure to post these guidelines on my bulletin board next to my calendar. :]

  2. 4

    says

    Um, Gussy, I just have to tell you how much I am LOVING this series! I even posted this morning about your organization post {after I cleaned out my Gmail account and set some filters, of course!}. Thanks so much for helping us out like this. ;D

  3. 5

    says

    Thanks so much for posting this informaton! I’m just beginning in the blogging world and have started to teach myself to sew. I learned simple things at one point, but have forgotten some. I have a desire to bring the hope of God to others through blogging about life, baking, and crafting. Your ideas have pointed me in directions of different things to check out and learn about blogging, etc.

    I will definately check out Google Docs and I’m still figuring out Google Reader….how to link everything together to make it easier and more efficient. *Definately some learning moments there! And some things I see I can/need to change. Looking forward to the next post!

    Thanks and Blessings!
    Nicole

  4. 8

    says

    Thanks, this is a great post! It’s so cool of you to share what you’ve learned. Your energy and optimism are contagious and inspirational – it’s what keeps me coming back to your blog. In addition to the fact that your pouches and totes are so darn cute! Makes me want to start a business already…

  5. 9

    says

    This is such wonderful information; thanks for sharing! I find myself struggling to find ways to improve my efficiency, which is such a challenge for a disorganized mind like mine. :) You clearly are a highly organized person so your tips are super valuable!

    I have done 2 things in the past 2 months that have been a huuuuge help towards increasing productivity. First, I decided to hire someone to help me clean my house. It felt so frivolous, but when I worked out how much sewing I could accomplish in the amount of time it takes me to mop floors, change sheets and scrub bathrooms, I realized I could come out ahead. Secondly, I declared one day a week, as much as it hurts my heart, a non-sewing day in which I can concentrate on errands, laundry, etc. without feeling like I just want to get back to the machine. Then on the other days I can focus even more on work.

    Just my two cents. You have given me so much more to think about! THANK YOU! :)

  6. 10

    says

    I love this. Having fun is so important. I think the thing I am going to take most from this post is streamlining. I’m going to get down to business and get organized.

  7. 11

    Constance Mahaffey says

    I am really enjoying your post and reading how YOU do things. I would love to see some pics of your work station and how you have all your supplies, etc. organized. That seems to be my downfall with keeping fabrics and everything organized, but I am working on it.

  8. 16

    Darlene says

    Gussy — This is great info. I’m in the process of setting up my studio and starting on my sewing for profit journey. Your tips and ideas have been very helpful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

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