This is another in Black’s occasional series that looks at the business side of art and craft.
It could be said that a business is a business and that it doesn’t really matter what you do within it. The basic principles of premises, staff, marketing, costing and record keeping are all the same. It’s also true that it’s as important that you run your business well as it is that you’re good at the process it supports. Make stunning products but fail to control your costs or get behind with your tax returns and the business will fail as surely as if your work is rubbish but your records exemplary.
So, do you need a book on running a jewellery business, or just a good accountant? Well, the truth is that it’s a lot easier to understand the common requirements when they’re presented in the context of what you’re familiar with than it is if they’re just abstract. If you make jewellery, it’s unlikely you’ll be setting up any other business, so it makes sense to buy this book rather than any other. And, anyway, what you learn in this context will apply if you turn your hand to pottery (more or less) and you can apply the lessons you’ve already learnt.
There’s plenty of meat here and Angie Boothroyd starts from the very beginning – whether to be a limited company or a sole trader, choosing a name, opening a bank account, etc. She also gives a helpful list of the things you absolutely need, such as a workplace, a computer and business cards. Those new to business have a tendency to over-invest in this area, so this is a particularly useful section and could save you a lot of wasted money.
From here, Angie looks at pricing, including wholesale versus retail, an important area to consider if you’re going to get maximum value or if you’re planning to sell to other outlets. Once again, beginners often make the mistake of under-pricing at the outset and this can hamper later development.
In the section on selling she looks at the various markets, including individual sales, fairs and the development of a website and thus online sales. Under the heading of presentation she offers sound advice on branding – giving yourself a recognisable identity – and the PR that protects and develops it. The final section covers the basic business skills of time and money management.
All-in-all, this is a nicely worked guide that should give you the confidence to start your own business without making many of the easily-made and elementary errors that bedevil the inexperienced. At £12.99, it’s excellent value, will probably pay for itself if the first few minutes, and could be your first business expense. Actually, the sale-or-return agreement in the sample documents at the back probably merits the cost alone.