SCORE ~ My first 'business' counseling session for my Handmade Business

Back in January, one of my goals was to contact our local Small Business Association {SBA} and/or SCORE {not sure exactly what it’s an acronym for}. SCORE contacted me and we set up an appointment to meet with a counsellor.  My meeting was today!

You can go here and see what SCORE is all about.  Basically, I went because I’m a relatively new entrepreneur and need all the help I can get. SCORE is a FREE resource!!!  Now why wouldn’t I use it?  I met with a retired businessman who was so kind and focused me on NUMBERS.  Me, being an artsy kind of gal, has not FOCUSED on numbers during my first year so much.  I have been focused on developing my products, on establishing relationships with my customers, starting my blog, keeping my store stocked, etc.  Pretty much everything and anything I can do to not focus on the number side of the business.

photo credit

He was asking me about I how I felt my business has been going.  I answered in several different ways, but wasn’t quite answering as a ‘business person’ would … with ‘NUMBERS’.  He wanted to know what my financials were.  DUH, I should have known!  But, this is just an example of how I have been putting most of my energy towards everything but.  Since, I had just tallied my numbers for taxes, I actually was able to finally answer his question {phew}.  He went forward with the figures I gave him and ran with them.  He showed me what I needed to be including, what I was doing well with, and focused me on the MONEY aspect of BUSINESS.  Up till now, I’ve been so thrilled with having people buy my products and sharing my products with others … my heart has been so full and warm.  Well, this meeting wasn’t about warm and fuzzies, it was about “Do I own a business or not”.

He also asked how much I pay myself.  Pay myself?  What?  HA!  What a CONCEPT!!! I learned that I should be including what I would be paying myself {or someone else} hourly in my ‘expenses’.  Pay MYSELF!!!!  I have been taking everything that I’ve made from my sales and putting it right back in to my business … buying fabric, postage, office materials, advertising, store fees, etc.  So, from now on, I’m definitely going to be keeping track of my hours.  Even though, I may not essentially pay myself, at least I will know how many hours I need to bill per month.

We talked about Quick Books.  I’ve been pretty diligent on entering my expenses and my income in my Numbers file {like Excel}.  I went to the Apple store when we bought our Mac and they helped me set up a spread sheet for my business.  It has worked so far for me, but I’m apparently doing extra work that I don’t need to be doing.  Quick Books does a BUNCH of stuff for you!  Who knew!  So, in the next little while I will be looking in to Quick Books.

photo credit

We talked about sales.  I sell MOST of my products online.  In the past year, I have been attending local markets and ‘scoping’ them out to see if it’s a ‘fit’ for me and my products.  So, this year is the year where I will be PARTICIPATING!  I have a handful of Handmade Markets that I will be selling at {and will announce them as they come along}.  My challenge has been to have enough inventory mainly.  As many of you know, I have my 2 little guys that are front and center of my life.  I sew at night after they are in bed and on the weekend when my husband takes them out to have fun.  So, at the moment my sewing windows are consistent, but not abundant.  But I figure that I will have enough inventory to do a few markets this year {my goal}.  So, this year sales will improve for sure.

I got a LOT out of my hour spent with SCORE.  They also offer seminars on many business topics … they even have one on Quick Books!  This meeting was really what I needed.  I have been so focused on other aspects of my business, but not so much on the numbers aspect.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like to make money {who doesn’t} and I have been keeping track of what’s coming in and what’s going out.  However, our meeting reinforced the fact that I do have a business that has progressed from a hobby.  I need to be more serious and spend more time on the $$ end of things and not just the creating aspect.

So, there you have it.  My experience with SCORE.

Hope you enjoyed it!

xo Tara

Comments

  1. Tara, this is a great post and such great information. I consider myself a stay at home mom that’s never home, HA, and I craft and sell things but have not taken my hobby for crafting to the next level. We owned a toy store for 3 years and we closed in April 2010 so everything in your post holds true for you as it does for a brick and mortar retail store. I’m taking the indie-business class and I will hopefully gain the wherewithal to take my love of creating to the next level.

    Loved the post
    ~Chrissy

  2. Heather Mullin says:

    Tara,

    Wow, Thank you so much for posting that! It was great and so what I needed to hear. I am one that gets so busy I neglect the $ part of it too even in photography. I don’t add in the $ for me. My husband has been helping me a lot in that area and I am about to go to a photographer for tutoring session and she is teaching me about all of that and more. I really appreciate you sharing this. It was a real eye-opener!

    Heather XOXO

  3. Danielle Roe says:

    I can totally identify with what you learned! I have not met with any professionals, but toward the end of 2010 just had these sorts of revelations. When we were really struggling early last year… any session I could book was money in the pocket, and an opportunity to practice. I was thinking of my business as one that has little expense and all profit. Well when all was said and done and I crunched the numbers for taxes, I barely showed a profit. So all that work was just to break even! It seemed silly (despite my love for the craft) when I looked at it on paper like that. So I’ve tried to make some changes for this year. TO have more of a plan and direction for myself financially, and not just look at any session as money in the pocket, because it’s really not! I hope you are able to come up with a good plan for yourself as well!

  4. JoAnn B. Schloss says:

    As Counseling Chair of SCORE Denver Chapter I love your your blog, your website, and your products! So will our Marketing Chair – she’ll thank you for marketing us! Chuck Halaska gave me your name as a prospective member of our Women-to-Women Mentoring Council. We’d be delighted if you’d join one of our highly interactive groups. We create a dynamic,learning environment where start-up, emerging, and growth business clients can bond, learn from, receive mutual support, network with one another and gain guidance from experienced business women mentors and speakers. Please send me your full name, address, and phone number if you are interested and I’ll contact you very soon.

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