business planning

I find it sort of funny, when I deal with people in my business (I mean people in the quilting world, in general) only want to know about your quilting history. I am NEVER asked about my former career. I guess it’s funny to me because my “before” and “after” lives are SO dichotomous. Not sure about that word? Look it up :).

At the end of my corporate reign, I was managing a 1.5 million square foot building. To put this in perspective, imagine your bedroom, which might be 15 foot square. 15×15 = 225 square feet. Or your house size = 3-4000 square feet? It was a REALLY big building; actually it was a warehouse, holding home improvement type goods imported from overseas.

If I remember correctly, my budget for the operation was about $43 million. Yes MILLIONS of DOLLARS. Sounds like I’m loony? I don’t remember all the specifics anymore, but I solidly remember that my transportation budget alone was $17 million. We shipped to over 300 stores in 11 states on at least a weekly basis. So to pay for the use of the trailers, the fuel, etc. that was my budget. Add in rent, labor, supplies, utilities and corporate BS and boom – BIG money!

I’m not bragging. I could probably figure out the words to describe how overjoyed I am to be out of that business, but I’m not going to bother. Suffice it to say, to me, now, that is just background.

It is good background tho. I helped a Canadian lady I met on Etsy to build a business plan so she could get a loan for her natural soap company. And now that I have my feet planted on the ground with my business, and have some history tracked down, I am ready to make myself a firm business plan.

I started by making some goals for this year. They were measurable, but not super specific. It is hard to be specific when your business is driven by clients you don’t even know you have yet, and others that call you when they have something for you. There is no guarantees of business, no steady income. But there are expenses driven by workload, and some not…

Not? How do you have to spend money without having a workload? It’s that pesky fabric hoarding addiction thing. My husband and I had a business dinner (beer, queso, the good kind of dinner) to discuss some plans and actions I could take to increase my net income. The first question out of his mouth: Can you decrease expenses? That is the easiest way to increase income without having to increase gross income. Well, if I stop buying fabric… Then he asks the dreaded… “Well how much fabric do you have in inventory?”

I’m not answering that.

Honestly I don’t know. I don’t think I want to know. I’m kind of scared to do that math. So I won’t. Ahhh, the perks of being the business manager.

What I did take from this conversation is that I have a problem, a wound, if you will. And the best course of action for my business is to stop the bleeding. I have plenty of fabric (no I don’t / YES YOU DO / no I don’t / YES YOU DO – this is going on in my head at the moment). I have plenty of fabric and unless I need to buy it to complete a customer’s project, I need to NOT buy it. This truly stopped me from buying this beautiful panel at the store yesterday. It was really hard – I looked at it, and fondled the soft cotton, and then remembered my promise to myself and put it down and walked away.

Step one, day 20 accomplished. Now to just make it through the next 345 days…

This is a pretty significant decision. But truly, I have decided to work on these projects and make quilts for charity – I have a set of 3 quilts on my table in progress and that didn’t even make a 1″ dent in my stack of fabric!

My current charity project

sigh. stack of fabric? it’s actually not a stack, per se. see below…

those bins are all full of fabric

I had to buy more bins because I had so much fabric

Those bins are all full of fabric.

Oh, and then there’s “the table”. It’s actually bags of fabric I brought to a retreat thinking I would get 100 projects done (well, those are the ones under the table), some fabric from mom, 2 repair jobs (yellow and cream pile to the left) and some fabric for those, and some other ‘stuff’, including more fabric (the yellow and blue with duckies is another charity project in the queue). Oh and that blue tub on the left? Full of quilt tops that need to be quilted, most of them with the backs already prepared. HELLO! I could get those done and up on Etsy or given to charity. oi woman! Oh and the basket? Full of beads. So glad I have time for playing with those…

the dreaded table

This is a good thing. I just have to keep repeating that to myself. I have enough. Ya, enough to make quilts for the next 10 years. So as a prudent business owner, I need to use my planning skills and business smarts to know that I am not allowed to buy fabric just because I want to.

That was the biggest realization. Next I’m going to tackle a specific budget. I.e. at the end of each month, I will put the sales tax $ into another account. I will also figure out what % I think I should pay myself and what % to put into my expense account, for purchase of REQUIRED supplies.

I think this is a pretty strong start. Now – on to some quilting!

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