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Posts Tagged ‘business’

Focus on the Three S’s in Success

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
You might know that I’m a word person. I love good writing, I worked as a journalist, and I love word games. I looked at the word “success” recently and thought about what the parts meant. Success has 3 S’s, and I decided that the keys to success are Self, Systems and Support.

How do you define success? Webster’s defines it as a favorable or desired outcome or the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence. The bottom line is that success relates to achieving goals. You set the goals and you determine whether or not you are successful. Here are some tips to help with your journey toward success.

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Save Money With Tax Tips for Creatives

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017


Yes, it’s tax time again. As a self-employed business owner, it’s important for you to have a handle on your business and know what is deductible and what isn’t.

Invariably when I talk about taxes with creative entrepreneurs, someone will tell me they have an accountant. “Terrific,” I say. “But what does she know about your business in particular?” You go to an accountant because she knows taxes. She can be very knowledgeable about small businesses, but she cannot know the nuances of every type of small business. She works with what you give her. That’s why it’s important for you to do your own research, understand tax strategies and keep track of deductions to which you are entitled. Here are nine tips for maximizing those deductions. To be sure that these apply in your particular instance, be sure to discuss with your accountant.

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Valentine’s Dinner Thoughts

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015


Did you enjoy your Valentine’s Day? My husband and I went to a lovely dinner at the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, Md. This is the oldest inn in the United States, dating back to 1710. It sits by the Tred Avon River and is very picturesque. Not quite as bustling as in the summer tourist season, and we were greeted with a snow storm as we left to remember the day.

As I was watching the staff handle the evening’s activities, I was reminded about how our businesses are like a restaurant.

When you own a successful restaurant, it’s divided into two areas: front of the house and back of the house. Front is what the public sees, i.e., the host/hostess, the waiters, the dining room, the meal. And back of the house is where the work takes place. If a restaurant business is to be successful, the owner has to manage the back of the house.

For creative artists, I see the front of the house as our completed art, whether that is displayed at a gallery or in a booth at Quilt Market or even on our website. That is the public face of our business.

Most of the real work in our business takes place back of the house, whether that’s our creating, managing our books, or marketing our business in a variety of forms. Restaurants have staff both in the front and the back of the house. So, too, our creative businesses have back-of-the-house help. We might have reps to market our business, virtual or non-virtual assistants to help with a myriad of tasks, bookkeepers to input the numbers into our financial software, etc. We don’t have to do that work that doesn’t fit our skill level or that seems too “left-brained” to us. It does, however, fall to us, the business owner, to look at the big picture. Part of that is looking at those numbers and becoming creative about how to grow our businesses.

When was the last time you took a good look at the back of the house activities, specifically your financials? How can you know where you are or what adjustments you need to make if you don’t? I know, so many artists say they aren’t interested in numbers; it’s such a left brain activity. I don’t buy that argument. Organizing your work space so you can create art is a so-called left brain activity; so is putting together that list of art supplies to order. You do those anyway because you want to create art.

You should have that same thought about your numbers. You want to create a profitable business – and you definitely use lots of right brain activity in that – knowing your numbers is part of the picture to get you there. And, if you don’t look at the whole picture, well, it’s like a half-finished quilt. You don’t have the complete story.

How much of your time do you spend front of the house vs back of the house? Leave a comment below or go over to our Facebook page to tell us.



Book Review: Your Best Year Yet!

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Your Best Year Yet!

Jenny Ditzler

Grand Central Publishing; $13.95

One of my favorite planning resources is Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny S. Ditzler. I have been using this little book for years and recommend it each year. It offers a framework to define your personal values, identify the various roles you play and create goals for those roles. Here are some of Jinny’s questions plus a couple of my own:

  1. What did I accomplish?
  2. What were my biggest disappointments?
  3. What did I learn?
  4. How do I limit myself and how can I stop?
  5. What are my goals for next year?
  6. Where do I need to find education or support to get there?
  7. How can I make sure I achieve my top goals?

I find one of the most empowering aspects of Jinny’s system is the look at the successes of the year. It allows you focus on your successes and not get weighed down by what did not work. It also lets you get off the treadmill of working on your business to see if you really are on course.

Here is a quote from the book I particularly like: “We must prepare our soil before we’re ready to plant the seeds we want to grow in the new year.”

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to if you would like to learn more about the book.

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Do you use your iPad for business on the road?

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The following by Gloria Hansen is excerpted from the Spring 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter.

In the past, any time I traveled my laptop, various cables and power cords, an external drive, card reader and other gadgets came along with me. If a year ago someone suggested that I could use an iPad – the tablet computer by Apple announced in January 2010 – instead of a laptop, I’d have immediately dismissed it. I have an iPhone and an iPad seemed just a larger version and something I didn’t need. Then I tried it. I was immediately hooked and realized its potential. In nearly no time, the iPad has quickly evolved from the hip gadget for reading, playing games, watching videos, keeping up with social media and such, to being a serious tool for accomplishing many business functions while on the road or even away from one’s desk. Now when I travel, I often only take it and a couple lightweight add-ons. With planning, and depending on what you need to accomplish during your travels, you, too, may be able to leave your laptop and related gadgets behind.

The first step is configuring your iPad with the “apps” (the trendy abbreviation for an application or program) needed to accomplish your goals. Here are some apps you might consider.

  1. e-Mail and web browsing. These are handled nicely with the included Mail and Safari apps.Working with photos,
  2.  I use the iPad Camera Connection Kit, which comes with two small gadgets that plug directly into your iPad. One allows you to insert your SD card directly and the other provides a USB slot for importing photos from your camera’s or video’s USB cable.
  3.  Working with photos, I use PhotoGene. The $1.99 app works with RAW files. It has exposure controls, levels, crop tools, resizing options and more.
  4. Presentations. The app of choice for presentations is Keynote ($9.99). With it, you can import a PowerPoint or Keynote slide show or create one directly on your iPad.
  5. Credit card processing. Take a look at Square (free). With it you can accept credit card payments. You need a card reader that plugs into the iPad or you can key in the card numbers. While the app is free, you are charged a percentage for each transaction.
  6. Package tracking. Delivery Status Touch ($4.99) tracks package deliveries no matter which carrier was used to ship.

Yes, some of these apps are available for smart phones. Many have been rewritten to take advantage of the iPad’s larger screen and other features. The adaptation helps in making the iPad function as a decent laptop replacement, especially during short trips. Is it for all travelers all of the time? No. For example, if you need to do intensive work with any of the Adobe Suite products, you’ll need your laptop. For complex MS Office documents, you may also be better off with a laptop. Otherwise, with some planning, you can pretty much do whatever you need with an iPad. Besides it being very easy to carry around, it immediately starts up and the battery life is excellent. With the 3G model, you also have Internet access and don’t need to worry about being in a WiFi area.

It’s been more than a year since the iPad was announced, and it has certainly changed the way I work. With its continually growing possibilities, it may change the way you work, too.

Please share your iPad app suggestions and experiences on our blog.

Book Review: Delivering Happiness

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Delivering Happiness
Delivering Happiness

Tony Hsieh
Business Plus; $23.99

Subtitled A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, these are the lessons Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, learned in business and life. It’s a quick read, and I found the book offered some valuable lessons, particularly on creating a company culture, including core values, and delivering “WOW” through service. In the final analysis, Tony offers his belief that we are all after the same end goal, and that is happiness. If we keep asking ourselves “Why?” about our goals, we’ll end up with wanting to be happy. I can see this is so true when I think about why so many of us quilt or make art. It makes us and the recipients happy.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

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