Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Many Hats of Small Business Owners!

People amaze me!  Here in the United States not only do I find that they amaze me, it is also the expectations.  Here we expect to be paid top dollar for our work if we work in the corporate world, yet the majority of people expect to pay low dollar for everything.  So low that if would not even cover turning the lights on in most businesses.

How is that as a society the United States does not expect to have to pay a small business owner for the work they do?  Take artisans we all are small business owners do people really not understand how many hats a small business owner wears?  Have we gotten so far away from being self sufficient that we have lost that fundamental understanding of what it takes to create something much less run a small business?

Let's break it down shall we?  on just how many hats small artisan business owner's wear....

1.)  Designing  -- coming up with and sketching out what we want to create in each and every piece.

2.)  Creating  --  the actual creation of each and every piece.

3.)  Branding  -- designing and then working on getting a recognizable visual recognition.

4.)  Marketing -- both our brand and our art.

5.)  Promotion --  making sure we are getting our art out in front of people and drawing them in to our venues.  In our case that means traffic to our website as well as promoting our in person events.

6.)  Accounting --  WE ARE RUNNING a BUSINESS, not giving away our pieces.  Tracking expenses, inventory, material costs and making sure our prices cover both while leaving us a small profit margin to live on is a must.

7.)   Education --  as with anything in life there is always something new to learn.  Weather it be honing our artistic techniques, learning a new technique, honing our photography skills or learning a new software program.  Small business owners are constantly educating themselves.

8.)  Social Media  -- is a job unto itself, that never seems to have enough hours in the day for.  Is one of the things I am struggling with right now in fact.  What seems like an unimportant and way to easy to ignore aspect of business can make or break a small business, especially one that is online and does not have a brick and mortar store.

9.)  Photographer ---  Selling online requires product photography.  We do it all ourselves and it is a constant struggle to improve the photos and find the right set up that appeals to everyone.

10.)  Sales Person --  whether online or in person, selling is a big part of what we do.

11.)  Analyst --  We have to track and due comparisons on different statistics from sales to social media.  This is how and what determines what changes should, could and will be made in the direction of any business moving forward.  It may seem pointless at first, yet it is a very important part of the process.

12.)  Writer -- writing is a big part of business.  Not just the obvious of our blogs and other social media venues.  This also includes product descriptions,  business plans, contracts, advertising and promotion verbiage, to name a few.

13.)  SEO experts --  Selling online requires you to be able to write search engine friendly content.  One must become an expert in order to survive.  Not only what is current, but be able to adapt to the constantly changing algorithms of the search engines and now social searching.

14.)  Graphics expert -- in order to brand yourself you need to choose an image and be able to work with that image in a variety of different adaptations.  For use on business cards, promo sites and their different size requirements, banners, etc.

15.)  Cleaning crew --  we clean our own work-space, office and booth space at the Portland Saturday Market.

16.)  Purchasing Agent --  supplies do not magically appear on our work tables.  There is time spent looking for the best quality and prices.  Time spent purchasing the items be they on line or in person.  Putting them away, organizing them, labeling them, etc...

In the list above, are the main 16 easily definable job descriptions of a small artisan business.  There are so many little jobs that small business owners do each and every day and some of them we do not even think about they are so automatic it would take me several weeks of constant tracking of every minute of the day to cover them all.   Support your local small business owners and remember they are doing all of these jobs for a fraction of what one job in the corporate world would pay.

We do it for the love of our art form and the personal feeling of satisfaction of working for ourselves and the freedom that comes with that.  Most importantly we find great satisfaction watching a person light up when they find the right piece or we receive emails from online customers telling us how much they are enjoying their pieces.  Yet, with all that we never allow ourselves to lose sight of the fact that we are running a business for profit.


basketsbyrose said...

Well said! There is a lot to running your own little business and most do not understand!

Vicky said...

Excellent post! Thank you for writing it so I can share it!

Barb said...

AMEN! What a great break down of all that we do!

Lois--Huckleberry Lady said...

Now that you put it all down, we do alot!!!!

My Stitches to Treasure said...

No wonder I am tired at the end of the day! :)

Entwined Vines Jewelry said...

Yes, it was a necessary post to write. Part of our work involves relaying value of our product and in order to accomplish that it requires laying it out step by step for potential customers.

While it isn't done one of the upcoming blog topics will be about the value of shopping local and from business's in your own country.

Nothing against shopping from overseas. However, with the current state of the worlds economy there are some basic principles that have been forgotten.

Julie L. Cleveland said...

This is to all artists and home based businesses - Thank you for the time and energy you put into your business.

We all share with each other, like this excellent blog post, and we all learn from the experiences of others.

I will never be rich, but I enjoy the hard work that goes into wearing all those hats.

Sharing this blog post with everyone on my social networks :)

To much success for all!
Julie and Blu

Vamp said...

Excellent post, you've summed up what all of us have to do so nicely. I've shared it on FB & Twitter thanks.

Donna Jo Wallace said...

Thanks for breaking it all down.
You do it because you love it that much. But beware of the prevailing wisdom that just because you love to do something, you should do it for free. This is a talent, and it's intertwined with many talents, some of which are acquired just because you have to. said...

Amen and Amen!!!! We work hard and pay much for our supplies then charge pennies!!! People do NOT understand the high cost of being a small business owner!!
Becoming wiser,
Sharon said...

Amen and Amen!!!! We work hard and pay much for our supplies then charge pennies!!! People do NOT understand the high cost of being a small business owner!!
Becoming wiser,