Part-Time Quilting Business Advice

by Charlotte Colmon

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwichary/3403417476/Time to dip into the mailbag again…

I received this question from Lynn May a little while ago (tough to answer all the great questions!), and wanted to get an answer to Lynn and Nina, who both had some of the same concerns:

Hi to all and to Chuck – Couple of things of interest. One, how to fit a quilting business into my full-time job and make a little extra money; and, two, how to price my quilts and small projects like table runners. It is hard to compete with Walmart, Target, Penney’s, etc., with quilts when you can buy one for $69.95. It costs a lot of time and money to make a quilt of excellence as we all know. So, is there a market out there for pricing a queen quilt at $300, $500 or $750? I would be very interested in knowing.

Lynn May

And here's Nina's comment…

I agree with Lynn May, how to begin a Quilting Business while keeping a full time job!

Here's my answer…

To begin with, staying motivated with any business endeavor can be a problem.  When I have a full-time job, it is very difficult to keep up with the Quilting Business website and stay motivated to keep working on the site when there's plenty of things that need to be done around the house (and as I'm typing this, I'm in the middle of a huge batch of laundry!), there's family responsibilities (I don't remember this many kids activities when I was younger), and there's always a good book or TV show waiting to take up our attention.

So, how do you stay motivated to work on a part-time business (with hopes of going full-time) while keeping a “real” job and having a life.  Here's my advice:

  • Block out your time.  You need to treat your part-time business like a business, and block out specific time to work on it.  Depending on how motivated you are, set aside one, two, or three hours a day that are going to be set in stone and let the people you love know that these are your business hours and that you need to have them respect these hours (i.e. “leave me alone during this time!”).
  • Stick to your time.  As part of blocking out your time, you need to make sure you stick to it, each and every day, each and every week.  It can be challenging, but once you get into a groove, you'll get into the habit of using this time for business, and business alone.
  • Work on your focus.  It's going to be very easy to be distracted during your business hours.  Every time you find yourself wanting to check your email, or surf the Internet, re-focus yourself and get back to business.  You can spend all the time you want on your business, but if you're not working productively, it can be wasted just as easily as if you're watching TV.  Focus is like a muscle – the more you work it, the better it gets.
  • Make your plans.  Take some time – like right now! – to map out your plans for the week, the month, the next three months, the next six months, the next year, and the next three years.  Spend some time detailing your goals and what you plan for your business, and then turn these goals into specific tasks that need to be accomplished to obtain these goals.  Then, figure out what you need to do RIGHT NOW to move towards your goals.  A daily “to do” list helps you focus on what's important.
  • Evaluate your performance.  In most job, a performance evaluation is a yearly assignment.  But in your part-time job, you should be evaluating your performance on a monthly basis against your plans.  Maybe even a weekly basis.  And certainly, at the end of the year, take a look at your accomplishments, what you can improve, and compare it with your goals.  Based on your business at that time, you may need to reevaluate your goals and come up with a new 12 month plan.  Change is the only constant, and you need to make sure you're on track for success.
  • Be reasonable in your goals.  Every business is going to take time to establish itself, and this is especially true with a part-time business.  Be realistic with your goals, and make sure you're not trying to become the next WalMart from day one.  Success builds upon success, but you need to make sure  your expectations are in line with the time and effort you can put in on a part-time basis.
  • Expect doubts, and then overcome them.  As a new business owner, you'll constantly be doubting yourself.  When you start to wonder why you're doing all this work for so little reward, take a step back and look at your goals and expectations.  Also, realize that everyone has doubts, and the only way to conquer fears and doubts is by action.  Do a little something towards your business goals each and every day and your doubts will be replaced by tangible results.
  • Have fun and roll with the punches.  When you're working on a part-time business, you need to be doing something you love, or it becomes a chore.  If you're only doing it to make money, you might as well take a part-time job or try and secure a better full-time job.  Part-time businesses usually start with a passion, and if you can keep at it, you might be able to build a full-time business.  The key is having fun while doing all the hard work (if that makes sense).

There are lots of great resources for time management, which is the key to making a part-time business work while juggling a full-time job and a busy life.  Search Google for “time management” or go to Amazon.com and look for the time management book that seems to work with your personality.

Good luck!

Chuck

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

janet edwards December 2, 2009 at 6:14 am

working on that i have a full time job at w/m its hectic and a part time job as a quilter am looking to end the full time and start doing the quilting job full time i know it takes time im being patient got my cards out there , always talking to customers , handing out my flyers.and being aware of potential leads to the next job. im encouraged by the people around me who know quilting is an art form not a peice of cloth to be mass manufactuerd and sold cheaply for thats all it is and holds no sentimental value its hard in the time alloted me but im to stubborn to give up i pray someday my dream to own my own quilt shop will one day happen my advice hang in there and dont give up all we have is time lov to all quilters jan

Chuck Smith December 2, 2009 at 8:13 am

Hey Janet – Thanks for the comment, and based on what you’re doing, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before you realize your dream. Hard work, properly directed, is the best way to create any type of business. You’re a great inspiration, and here’s hoping you “break out” sooner than later.

Regards,
Chuck

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