Running a Really Small Business

One thing I keep researching is managing a really, really small business like Art of the Firebird. Heaven knows there’s a lot of information out there about small businesses, but so much of it is geared toward either people who want to be consultants of some sort, toward people who are opening brick-and-mortar retail, or toward people who are eBay-ing. Even the information for artists is mostly geared for people either doing the “show circuit” or trying to get into galleries.

What does Art of the Firebird require?

  1. Product. I think I’ve got making product down, more or less. I get my torch time in, and make jewelry in the odd minutes here and there. That’s the fun part, after all!
  2. Inventory management. I’m getting there. I’ve got the tool I need set up for finished product, but I really need to do a better job of tracking the glass, at least, so I don’t overbuy some colors & find myself without others.
  3. Local shows. Down the Street Bead Shows are doing well enough for us for the beads & such, but it would be nice to find a couple of “finished product” shows that would be a good fit for Andrea and me. I don’t just want to blindly apply to some, though, which means research, which means time!
  4. Photographing product. Pain in the ass task! Even though I have the photography corner set up more or less permanently, the setup needs tweaking (lighting is not what it should be). I’d also far rather melt glass than shoot photos! If I’m going to sell online, though, it’s critical.
  5. “Stocking” the online stores. Well, that depends on getting the photography done and products inventoried. Once those get done, adding items to ArtFire and 1000 Markets is pretty easy. I keep wondering if there is any point in trying to have a presence on any other online venues…and if it’s worth the time.
  6. Marketing. EWWW!!! HELP!!!! THIS is where I need a guidebook for my type of business. Honestly, I just don’t know what the hell to do here!
  7. Accounting. What I know about accounting is this: money comes in, pauses briefly, and goes back
    out. I tried QuickBooks and it’s big-time overkill for me. Isn’t there a simple, easy-to-understand accounting setup or tool out there somewhere?
  8. Generic other stuff. You know, packing and shipping online sales, restocking supplies, making sure all the various forms get filled out & submitted in a timely manner every year, redoing our show display every time we do a show (it seems), and a zillion other things that aren’t coming to mind right now.

At least I don’t have to deal with stuff like, say, payroll! Sarah, Donovan, and Mr. Boots work for Greenies, after all.

4 thoughts on “Running a Really Small Business”

  1. Love your blog on this subject. I have very similar issues that I face as a raku sculpture artist. I finally quit doing festivals because my work doesn’t sell in those venues and my pieces are so fragile and oddly shaped it makes it hard to get everything there and back in one piece. If you find easier software than Quickbooks, please pass that info along. Marketing is the biggest challenge for me, it’s hard to know where to market and how to budget for marketing. Real easy to spend on marketing that doesn’t pay off. One other issue I face is since I’m working at home sometimes my family members consider what I do a hobby instead of a business.

    Regards, Christina

    1. Christina, you and I have the same issue with marketing:

      hard to know where to market and how to budget for marketing. Real easy to spend on marketing that doesnâ??t pay off.

      I’ve tried just a few ads in places where I thought they would work, but I didn’t seem to get any response, not even looky-lous, from them. That makes me even more reluctant to throw more money at advertising!

      I’m fortunate with my family situation, though. It’s just my husband and me here, since our kids are all grown, and he is extremely supportive. All I can say there is keep trying to make it clear that this isn’t just playtime for you, it’s Real Work.

  2. Hi Julia – I’m also a really, reallysmall business – have a look at
    it’s a great 1-day workshop which will help you with a lot of your questions and it’s right here in Georgia
    take care

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