Sunday, April 17, 2011

Budgeting Time for Success

As you begin the adventure of selling full-time, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is this: budget your time wisely and set goals for yourself.

print from LetterHappy

Running a home arts/craft business can be an enormous challenge with great pay-off if you make sure to pace yourself wisely. Don't take on more than you can handle, but don't limit yourself either. Make sure you challenge yourself without over-doing it. This is different for every person, but it is vital to the growth of your business and yourself as an artist to know what you are capable of and what you are not.

moleskin journal from BubbyandBean

One of the most important things you can do for your fledgling business is to set some long term goals and write them down. Putting things in writing is so important; it's like signing a contract with yourself. Here you have documented evidence that on April 17th of 2011 you decided that you would double your monthly sales-intake over the next 6 months.

Full-time hit me like a runaway freight train. One minute I was happily packaging my 100th hand painted jewelry sale after 5 months of work and the next I was handling almost 10 orders a day. In less than a month I had not only met my goal, but surpassed it by quadrupling my monthly sales after making a large number of tweaks, changing how I managed my time and doubling my inventory. Where was the problem in this you ask? Each of my pieces is hand painted, so each week consisted of an enormous amount of painting. Not only did it add to my workload as far as painting went, but it increased the amount of time I had to spend packaging and changed how I had to handle my finances. Making this sustainable has been more work than getting to this point was.

From the middle of November to the middle of March I only took about 6 days off--one of which was to move to another state.

This didn't feel like the ease and work-in-your-pajamas-awesome that a home-based arts business was supposed to be. It was beginning to feel all consuming. After some close examination, I sat down to rework how I could better use my time. Where was the fat I could cut? What could I do differently in order to streamline production without cutting quality?

'The Traveler' from TuckooandMooCow

Setting a budget for time is like setting one for finances: you have to examine everything, decide what's most important and make cuts where you need to and can afford to. To keep your budding business as stress-free as possible (which it will never be 100% of the time) budget your time as wisely as you can. Every so often, go back and re-examine your time-budget the same way you would finances.

Time is the ultimate cost for any business. Everyone is allotted the same amount and no one can over-draw. How you divide it up and make use of it needs to be based on your individual business plan (how many hours does it take a day to make your business work), the goals you've set for yourself (how many more hours will you need to get to where you want to be), and the time table of you life (how much time do you need to devote to family, social obligations, taking hot bubble baths).

'The Relic' bracelet from Flowerleaf

Author: Sarah-Lambert Cook of TuckooandMooCow


  1. Sarah - this is so true. Time seems so minimal when you are operating your own business. Being responsible for getting everything done while still making sure you take time for family & friends can be tricky.

    Thank you for sharing your story and tips!

  2. Great post! I think planning time for "life" outside of work is so important too. Making sure that you have time outside of work ensures you'll be more successful when you're actually working. This is my greatest challenge!

    Thank you so much for featuring my goals journals too. :)


  3. Wonderful post! For me, finding a balance between my 'real' life and my business is one of the most difficult aspects running a business. You have inspired me to sit down and write out an actual time 'budget'. Thanks Sarah-Lambert!

  4. Sarah-Lambert,

    The "only six days off" part of this really caught my attention. That's not enough, is it? I went through a time analysis exercise myself back in October. I'd been neglecting my family and myself for months, so I decided I'd *plan* my days off well in advance. It's great to look ahead on the calendar on one of those "too much" days and realize that there's a vacation to look forward to. If I only took vacations when I thought I'd caught up with my work I'd never take them at all!

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  6. Fantastic information!
    "Making this sustainable has been more work than getting to this point was". I thought that bit was especially interesting and surprising.
    (In case anyone is wondering: my deleted comment just had a typo that was bugging me)

  7. I definitely need to do some serious organizing... with my time especially. Sometimes I will find myself behind in other things or that I didn't eat dinner when I should have because I am working on my shop or creating something. Organization is definitely not one of my strong suits and this post is awesome in that I am going to try to slowly work toward being a bit more organized in this area!

    Such a helpful post, this one is!

    Thanks for the feature of my bracelet as well! :-)

  8. Great info, and great advice, Sarah-Lambert!

  9. Great info! And so important! I struggle with making time for myself, family and friends all the time. It's so easy to NOT take time off when you work from home and set your own hours. I'm always saying to myself, "If I can just get a little bit ahead then I'll take some time off." But I am working towards taking one day a week completely off.

  10. Making an actual written budget for my time is a great idea... I really must do that. I am such a fritterer & would love to be able to get more done.

  11. An excellent post! I am a visionary but not so good at figuring out what I need to get to the goal. Making goals and working towards them, budgeting my time, all good things. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

  12. Budgeting time is so hard. Just even finding the time to set aside to be creative, which is necessary for an artist's soul, can be challenging. Goals are so important, too. I set a goal for myself each year about the amount of sales I would like to make and have surpassed that each year. Time management is especially hard for me right now, with trying to find a new apartment, eventually moving, craft fair season, new projects, managing two online shops and attending to my teams' requirements. Not to mention my day job, which is very physical, and draining. I must say to myself at least once a day that I wish there were a few more hours in the day. I can't imagine if I had a family to look after, too, like some of you all do.

    I think, also, having the computer and internet right there is too tempting and I tend to waste a lot of time doing nothing. When my internet isn't working, I get so much more done. I think that would be a good place for me to start.

    Thanks for the post, Sarah-Lambert. Great info!

  13. Great article and great info and advices! Will use this to improve my time management, thank you!

  14. Excellent article. I too feel like I'm a total work-a-holic... running a business while MAKING your product just takes soooo much time! It was one of my New Year's Resolutions to budget my time more effectively but it's like I just can't find the time to even think about how I'd go about it. I know I have to ... thank you for making me face this again.
    Donni - Fairyfolk and DovieMoon

  15. I have been meaning to rethink my budget for time (and money) this month. I think continually improving production time is essential in business. Great article!