08 September 2010

Pipedream Progress

So as some of you may know I have played around with ideas for a little small business for a while but i was never brave enough to do it. But then my dad died, and he left me with some very good advice: well he told me to just do it. So I am doing it. Not just for my dad but for myself. I've decided to not return to full time work for now, and I'm setting everything up and crossing my fingers and toes that it will work.

I've researched, practiced, enrolled into a few courses and worked on my products. I want to sell something really good, with a really strong focus on ethical and recycled materials. I think my ideas are good, but some days my confidence isn't all that great. I have always been a very cautious person and at school I was always the one who wouldn't climb up stuff and most certainly not jump down. But the last few months have taught me that risking an uncomfortable landing is what it's all about.

Are you doing something similar? I have started talking to people who are on a similar path (for example the excellent Anne - hello Anne!)

 Today I am sharing some things I have found really useful along the way, so far. About starting out!

* This book. I really enjoyed reading the interviews with a great variety of crafters who run a business doing what they love. Not all of them have a creative degree. I found this reassuring. I am a University nerd and I studied all kinds of totally not very practical things such as Neurolinguistics and wrote an entire thesis on Alice in Wonderland. So my instinct is to go to the library to find answers to my questions, and I feel like if I haven't studied it, I'm not qualified. That is of course not true. But it is a relatively new concept to me to go with your gut and trust that what you love doing is what you're really good at. I'm willing to believe though!

Craft Inc by Meg Mateo Ilasco
* I don't think you need a University degree in "creative" to be creative, but you do need skills to make a truly great product. I've loved skilling up to make my stuff really good. I did some courses at CAE and Tafe and of course also Harvest (Harvest rocks!) to get some experience and work out where my strengths and weaknesses are. I think it's fun and it also gives you confidence to sell products if you've invested in making them well. There are also some great courses on running a craft business at Craft Victoria. Apparently courses that you do to develop a business are tax deductible too, says Alfred my tax man.

* I've met with some great peeps over the last weeks who have all been helpful, inspiring, kind and encouraging. Once I have my new website up and running there will be a huge thank you page just for them. I think emailing people and asking for advice is always a good idea and talking to people who already run a business is fantastic. I was a bit shy about approaching people but it turns out there is no need.

* I have done a lot of work on trying to understand things like income tax, GST, etc... the essentials of running a small business. I am disnumeric and rather foolish so this was important to me as I am not going to run this business with anyone supporting me financially. So I've got to make sure I don't end up in disaster if it fails! Hayley recommended some great internet sites to me that have all been ace to use. They are: Creative Empire , White Hot Truth and I also like Itty Biz. I hope these may help you too! 

* I've been thinking about sustainability a lot. I think there is just no way to start a business or even an idea these days without considering the effect it will have on the environment and how we will live in the future. I decided pretty early on that I was going to work mainly with recycled materials, because I am a big believer in recycling and reusing. And we all know I spend most of my free time hovering in op shops. The bits of material I need that I can't source I want to be fair trade and organic if possible. I think it's important to understand what those terms mean, mainly so you can are not just paying for the 'organic' price tag on supplies, but can be sure that they were actually produced and made to the standard you want, and are truly organic if they claim to be. Some info is available at Ethical Clothing Australia and Carbon Neutral Australia. I am doing research on organic fabrics now and will fill you in later if you're interested. 

And finally, I liked this post by Lara of Ink and Spindle - just to remind myself that almost everything starts with a (pipe) dream!


Shine Little Light* said...

Yay inspiring and thank you! Good luck! *s*

Anne (Sarah Vain and Tall) said...

The skills you gain in research are like super-propellant to a new business. Yes, there are hundreds of new and sometimes difficult things to learn. But you separate the wheat from the chaff easily.

First ten years I researched English literature -- last night a "groundbreaking" book on social media arrived from Booktopia and I had polished it off within an hour. Ho hum -- got it all off the net. With my super dooper "useless" literature degree skills.

This is my roundabout way of saying, you may not know the way yet but you know how to find out. You're going to do great.

ambette said...

Great post! I'm still in the pipe-dream stage, but would love to have my own little business someday. I feel really daunted by all the financial/record-keeping stuff though, and I have no idea where to start with making a small business legit.

I'd love to find a short course somewhere that explains it all! Might have to start looking, because one day I want to make the leap!

Anyway, congratulations on making the jump - I'm sure it must be a bit scary, but I really hope everything goes well :)

Carla said...

Good on you. I'm in the process of doing the same thing, but it's taking a while, and I'm still finding myself not taking too many risks. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's one baby step at a time, and as long as I'm taking them, they are steps in the right direction. Best of luck with your new life-to-be!

Loz and Dinny said...

I say jump and enjoy the splash! You will never look back... Good luck!

Gina said...

Yay for you. You definitely have something of the entrepreneur in you I believe Tina, and an original streak that will help you stand out. Keep talking to those in the know (Anne, Hayley etc) - you'll be great!