You may work hard to be skilled in a trade, but you won’t have a chance to keep doing the work if you don’t make the money it takes to survive. To that end, these are embroidery-specific business tips to keep in mind.
Know your overhead, plan for profit, and price accordingly. Always know what it costs to keep yourself running. Know the cost to be in your location, the energy required to run equipment, the costs of your supplies, and the labor needed to decorate a piece. Measure costs but plan for expansion, repair, and profit, and price accordingly, accounting for the work you can reasonably do with available equipment and time. If that’s something your customers won’t pay, you need to work on finding customers that will or more efficient ways to operate. Start by pricing below what you need to run, maintain, and reinvest; and you might as well quit rather than work hard for too little and go under anyway.
Have a market in mind before acquiring equipment. Whether it’s your first machine or adding a decoration process, don’t let the desire to create make you commit before you have a market. Start with a clear idea of whom you will serve, what unique experience you can offer, and what this group of people needs. You can operate and build a market entirely without equipment by selling while outsourcing your production. Contract decorators exist to fulfill that role. Always try not to justify the costs of a machine before you have a plan and a target to which you’ll sell products.
Never stop selling. Never stop or slow in marketing your business, whether that’s through old-school prospecting or establishing your brand via social media and events. No matter how you operate, there’s nothing to produce without incoming orders. If you don’t like to sell, partner with or hire someone who does. Even if you start your shop with no love for profit and all the love for embroidery, the only way to be free to do that work every day is to make the money it takes for your shop to survive. Though profit-minded businesspeople are already on-board, selling starts as a struggle. If you believe in the value of embroidery, charge for that value and keep yourself running.
What gets measured, gets managed. Keep track of production, materials, expenditures, hours worked, and anything that comes in and out of your business. Only those things you measure and record enlighten your future decision making. Through analyzing our history in data, problems of excess cost or slowdowns in production become apparent. Track, report, and use what you learn to pivot toward a more efficient and profitable operation.