Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Master Sewing and Design Certification/Developing a Business Plan, Why It's Important

After a bit of an absence, it's nice to be back! Nothing wrong, just a number of things that I needed to take care of, and sadly, there's only so much time in the day...as we all know :)

Some of you may remember that I am working on completing the Master Sewing and Design Certification Program offered through the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. 
The certification process is based on the completion of 7 modules;
1. Professional Practices
2. Fashion Illustration
3. Design
4. Pattern Development
5. Fabrics
6. Garment Construction
7. Fit

I am currently working on the Professional Practices Module. With this module you are asked to;
1. Define Your Business
2. Develop a Marketing Plan
3. Develop a Financial Statement 
4. Consider Legal Aspects/Trademarks, Copyright Laws and Business Licenses

I often hear people talk about the desire to turn their passion into a full-time job, or at the very least, a part-time job. Many give it a go, and many fail. In fact, 96% fail within the first 10 years. That's a huge failure rate! So how can you be part of the 4% who actually make it? Begin by writing a business plan. 
A business plan will help you 
1. Define Your Business
What is your business? Do you love doing alterations, bridal, custom work, develop a pattern line? It could very well be that you love doing alterations, but hate doing custom work. Rather than taking on work that you hate to do, a business plan will help you to focus and determine ways promote what you love to do and do well.
2. Avoid Making Big Mistakes
By writing out a business plan, you will determine who much you can expect to make in the first year, second and so on. A business plan will help you determine how much money you will need to set aside so that you can focus on building your business and not worrying about whether you will have enough set aside for operating and living expenses. 
3. Determine If You Need To Raise Capital
If you need to borrow money in order to realize your dream, a business plan will help you communicate your vision in a clear and concise manner. Be it friends, family, or a bank, they all want their money back and will be much more likely to lend the money you need if you have thought through your business strategy.
4. Keep You On Track
During the start up stage of your business, there will be times when you are exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed. A business plan will help to bring you back to the core reason for starting your business. You will have something concrete that will help you take an objective look at what you are doing and why.

It may be that you are one of the lucky few who have enormous contacts, and will have no problem with bringing in new customers. For most of us, that isn't reality, so we need to think about how we are going to attract new customers. A great business card is a must. About 5 years ago, I was introduced to Moo Business cards. I was amazed at the quality and how the cards could be customized. You can actually upload up to 50 images, so this is a perfect way to advertise. The paper quality it top notch and will impress anyone who holds your card in their hand. You can find out more about Moo HERE

If you would like to create a brand, you will need a logo. A logo is especially important as it will tell your perspective customers who you are and what you do long before they ever meet you. Developing a logo can be quite expensive and daunting. A great resource is 99 Designs. You simply fill out a questionnaire and begin a contest where graphic designers compete for your business. If you don't see anything you like, you will be reimbursed your initial investment. I used 99 Designs to create the logo below. 

I highly recommend doing your homework prior to starting your design contest. Pinterest is a great place to get ideas of what you might like. Remember, the designers are designers and not mind readers, so it helps them to have some direction. 

If you would like to explore a little more, here are some wonderful resources that may help you determine if you would like to take the plunge into working for yourself,

How To Start and Maintain a Profitable Sewing Business 
by Becky Reed

Marketing Your Sewing Business: How To Earn a Profit
by Barbara Wright Sykes   

Sew To Success! How To Make Money In a Home-Based Sewing Business
by Kathleen Spike

Nothing can be more enjoyable than doing what you love and being paid to do it. But, the person who succeeds is the person who is prepared. 

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  1. I have been fortunate enough to earn money from sewing for over twenty years. I agree it is important to decide what you want to specialise in (if you want to) but also to be brave enough to refuse work outside that area. I work mainly in ladies wear - be it day wear, bridal, and custom as well as alterations. I have been asked many times for curtains/soft furnishings and always refused. I don't like them, and I would rather have free time than curse my way through those jobs!
    Good post Rhonda.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Kim. You said it so perfectly. When we say yes to one thing, we say no to another. I had a wedding gown business for 12 years. I too was asked to do things that were out of the realm of what I wanted to concentrate on. It can be quite scarey to say no, but in the end, it helps you to focus on what you do best and still have a life.

  2. I agree so much about your business plan. If you don't know where you want to be or how to get there how will you make it happen and convince other people that you can? I am considering starting up sewing stuff for sale again and having a roadmap definitely makes it easier. Xx