Q: I have a good eye for design and love making jewelry. When I wear one of my pieces people always compliment me and ask where they can buy one, so much so that lately I’ve been thinking about giving up my day job and going into the jewelry-making business full time. What do you think of my idea?
A: Doing something you love is always a good idea, but would you still enjoy making jewelry if you had to do it all day, every day?
Even if you can picture yourself as a full-time jewelry maker, there are many other factors to consider. Clearly you have a skill for making something that people are interested in buying, but can you make enough pieces for multiple customers in a reasonable amount of time? Perhaps your pieces are high end, and you wouldn’t have to sell that many to make a profit, but could you still make a quality product if you were under pressure to get them finished and sold?
Do you have a plan for finding customers? Although many people have admired your jewelry, that won’t necessarily translate into sales. You will need to define your target customers and how you will reach them, and have a realistic idea of how many people are actually likely to buy from you. And what about a plan for selling your pieces? Will you sell through a retail outlet, or online? If online, do you have the know-how to set up a website?
What about your financial acumen? Do you have a good sense of how much it costs to make a piece and how much you will have to sell it for? Can you make enough money doing it not only to finance your venture but also cover your living expenses?
Is your personality suited to business ownership? Although all types of people make successful business owners, it helps if you’re a self-starter, highly motivated, a good decision-maker and persistent. You’ll be making the jewelry, but you will also be responsible for finding the customers, making the sales, and keeping the books.
Before you quit your day job, do a thorough feasibility study and then write up a business plan detailing exactly how you will go about getting your business going and what it will take to turn it into a moneymaker. Go to the UH-Bauer College Small Business Development Center website at www.sbdc.uh.edu and click on “I need help with my business plan.” You’ll be able to link to free sample plans, including plans for starting a jewelry business. Also look at the SBDC’s Workshops and Seminars schedule. There’s a business plan workshop coming up on Sept. 24.
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