Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolutions for the Indie Business Owner

Is your House in order? As in your small business that designs, makes, and sells fashionable clothing and/or accessories.
Hopefully, as a small business owner you're still patting yourself on the back. I can count on my fingers and toes how many people I personally know that are only dreaming about what we've managed to achieve. When asked about my decision to start my own company I excitedly share how after only a few years of contemplation and many more hits and misses did I decide just how serious I wanted to take on this endeavor. I'm constantly reminded of how I, along with close friends and family, are proud and supportive of my journey. It was not easy walking away from a salaried position that offered benefits, vacation pay, a 401k plan, etc. Some days I still ponder the many items on my "What If" list and there's no telling if and when or why, for that matter, I will return to those days. Now that I've begun this investment, I'm putting up a constant fight to progressively maintain what I have. This, by no means, is an easy undertaking. I've developed more game plans than when I decided to earn my Master's Degree or take on motherhood. Might I add that I quickly learned that game plans are not the absolute necessity for motherhood as they soon get abandoned; rather, a sense of humor, positive surroundings, and a loving husband and family have worked the most wonders. I've never had to be more organized in my life. Heck, I'm an artist I thrive on unorganization, but I've found that this has been a necessary element and addition to achieving success. I had a little help formulating this list. You can see all the details if you visit:
I promise to better manage my cash flow. All it takes is for my fabric wholesaler to send me an email about the latest fabric trends and my order is placed. There's one section of my workshop that my babies dare not go near for fear of a small avalanche. I, honestly, have way more supplies and gadgets than I know what to do with. Did you know that I have an embroidery machine that I sometimes toy with because I don't have time to fully understand its capabilities? So, promise to self: stop spending cash on the unnecessaries. I will try to nearly deplete the fabric and notions on hand before doing a major re-stocking. Also, I've learned to use the business bank account on business-related expenses, only. I was defeating the purpose of opening a business account. Keeping separate books really pays in the end. It's the best way to keep track of the books. Keeping all receipts have been a big help, as well.I promise to prepare a business budget at the beginning of every budgeting period, stick to it to the extent possible, and change it with thoughtfulness when need be. I learned this early on when I started taking trips out of town to go shopping for fabric. I started figuring out mileage, food, gas and travel time. I reluctantly started ordering fabric on the web (I still prefer feeling the "hand" of the textile before purchasing), but when ordering via the internet I pay close attention to shipping and handling fees. Because I have a fabric ecommerce I'm aware that shipping fabric is not cheap, but some companies go overboard possibly to make up for the taxes they can't charge out-of-state buyers. For 2011, I've even started researching local festivals and trade shows to figure into my budget. I haven't fully started following the lesson plans just yet. I started using coupons, discount codes and rewards programs. I've even made sure that every wholesaler or supplier has my Tax ID number on file. I've managed to stay within budget on several occassions just by not having to pay sales taxes on purchases. I promise to keep better tax records in the future. This one has become very important on my "to do" list. In fact, I'm currently preparing my business taxes to be filed by the end of this month. To my fellow small business owners research how important it is to file your business taxes. Did you know that it's just as important as filing your income taxes? So many privileges can be revoked for failure to comply with the rules of your state's Department of Revenue. The hardest lesson for me was remembering when my taxes should be filed (quarterly, monthly, yearly.) Fortunately, I now file yearly. Having to file yearly means that my deadline falls around my birth date; it's easy to remember that something else important needs to happen on or before that day. Keeping all receipts has been a big help with this, as well. I promise to keep better track of my inventory during 2010. Uhmmm... I will try my best to work on this one. I honestly can't tell you what is what in the fabric section of my workshop. If I can't see it, I don't remember it being there. And it's not like I haven't organized and re-organized the bins and shelves. I just can't keep track of it. Also, I've gotten in the habit of checking inventory before each new project. I started pulling out all needed notions before a pattern is cut; just to be sure that I have everything I need before I get started. I get easily distracted and because I won't be able to make it to the local fabric mart anytime soon, I don't need anything other than motherhood to make me postpone sewing on any given day. I promise to analyze my financial statements each accounting period and try to forecast the future for my companyThis will be the hardest. I imagine it to be even harder than having to forecast market and/or buying trends for the next year. I thrive on unpredictability and thought that I was doing okay by being inspired at a spur of the moment. I'm willing to try something new for the next year. I have been inching by with doing my own accounting, but I've seriously considered hiring a professional. I'm thinking that the outsider could catch some things that I've been overlooking.They would offer some advice on spending and bookkeeping habits, too The drawback is that that will be an added expense for the company.

I'd like to add that I am still a firm believer in flexibility. I can't get too bogged down with crunching numbers, watching tv for the latest fads or trying to do all of what I see others doing/making. I've got to still focus on what will be best for my company. I foresee that this will still mainly be a one-woman venture throughout the next year. Fortunately, my husband helps when he can with the business. He's been known to cut fabric, mail packages and definitely gives his opinion on whether an item looks nice or if it will sell. I can't try to take on or accomplish too much too soon for fear that I will quickly become overwhelmed... and there's clearly no time for a meltdown in 2011.

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