I am often asked how I found my success by people who are thinking of starting their own business. I find this a hard question to answer, because the term ‘success’ means different things to different people.
For myself, doing something that I love to do every day is a degree of success. The fact that we are able to survive financially on that business and that we are comfortable with that level of income also adds to the mix. That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t like to do better, but for now it is adequate to meet our daily needs and we both feel that there is lots of room to expand and grow as a company and as a business so that we can count on it for the long term. There is a world of possibility ahead for us.
One of the most important factors in keeping our business healthy is diversifying. As with many other aspects in life, diversification is something that not only expands your company into several different areas, but also protects it if one of those areas were to fail further down the line. While it certainly takes a bit more work to diversify, I feel it is well worth the extra time and effort in offering peace of mind and security for the business as a whole.
When I started out, I focused mainly on creating woodworking patterns for the scroll saw. This was something that I loved to do and still is the very heart of my business. But scroll sawing is a very specialized part of woodworking and from a marketing point of view, scrollers are only a small percentage of those who do woodworking.
Being someone who enjoys decorative painting as well, I saw a need for expansion into that venue. To me, woodworking and painting go hand in hand and providing both patterns and wood pieces for the decorative painters not only keeps me creating, but it also allows me to work in not one but two wonderful industries that are very creative. I am very pleased at the response that my work and designs have had from the painting community. And while I don’t intend to give up creating woodworking and scroll sawing patterns soon, I know that as time goes on I will be doing more work in both areas and developing patterns for each of them.
Yes – it is a bit more work. But it is hard to call it ‘work’ when I am enjoying myself so much. I think that one key to my own successes here is that I price things fairly. And by the term ‘fairly’ I mean not only fair for the customer, but fair for myself as well. It takes a lot of trial and error to finally get to that place. But with a little time and patience, it can be done.
I spent most of yesterday filling out orders and getting them ready to ship today. I was very pleased that the wood kits that I am offering seem to be doing so well. While sometimes it is a juggling act to balance everything completely, the diversity that offering wood pieces for painters is a part of our business that is growing at a nice pace, and I enjoy it very much.
Before I got involved in offering kits, literally weeks would pass when I wouldn’t be able to use my scroll saw or do woodworking at all. I was drawing and editing, but the time creating patterns and writing and marketing far outweighed the time that I was able to spend actually making the projects. I found myself missing that part of the business and really looked forward to the time when I would be able to build projects again.
But by offering wood kits and pieces, it seems that I am at the saw a little bit more often. This not only helps me keep my skills up to par, but it is also a lot of fun. I truly enjoy the process.
I also find that my time spent sawing and creating is a great time for me to think of future projects that I want to make. As with many things, one project leads to another and before I know it I have another long list of things that I want to do. As I said the other day, this is what I consider ‘job security’ and I don’t think I will ever live long enough to develop all the ideas that I have. It is a good place for a designer to be.
With that said, I am going to leave off here. I realize that I only scratched the surface of this topic, but I hope I perhaps got those of you who are considering your own business thinking a little. While I realize that there is a fine line between diversification and spreading yourself a bit thin, I think that it is up to the individual to test the waters and see what the needs are in your own area as far as expanding your business. I believe you need to tailor your own business plan to your own needs and the demands of your area. I do think that by diversifying your businesses a bit, you are providing yourself with a bit of a safety net so that if one aspect of your business doesn’t preform well or fails, the other legs of your business will be able to keep it going. That is just good common sense.
After a cold and snowy weekend, I am looking at a calm day outside. I have an article for the magazine that I am finishing up writing and then I am going to be doing some work on an exchange project that I want to mail out tomorrow. After that, I have some great new ideas that I want to develop for both scroll sawing and painting. It is going to be a good week. I wish you all a wonderfully productive week as well.
Happy Monday to you all!
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-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"