Tag Archives: outsourcing

Jewellery Business Week: Check if you can do it all

business-week-banner-2016

So you started your business on the kitchen table or in the garden shed, selling online or at the occasional fair.

Then you started to sell more, perhaps you got an order from a retailer, so you needed to make more and come up with new ideas. But with more sales and more stock came more admin and more items to photograph and more photographs to edit and upload.

Your jewellery business is a success but you’ve given up sleep.

This may sound extreme or a bit negative but it is a common experience for people who start their own businesses. It can be difficult to balance business growth with what it is sensible for you to put into it yourself.

This is where revising your business plan comes in. It is good practice to revise your business plan on a regular basis to keep on track but it is especially important if there has been a lot of change or growth in your business. What you had previously earmarked as a strength or weakness or a priority may now not seem the same. Taking the time to review every aspect of your business will help put it into perspective.

bizplanSome of the things you should think about are:

  • What are all the tasks that need to be done for your business? Making, photography, selling, uploading to website, post and packaging, press and marketing, book-keeping, social media etc.
  • Analyse your strengths and weakness against that list. Think about yourself and the tasks in two ways. Firstly, what are you good at and what is a struggle or you think someone else could do better? And then what is important/valuable for you to do for your business? This second list will include things you see as a strength such as creating new designs but you might also decide that it is important for you to do social media so the business has your “voice” even though it can feel a struggle. Comparing these two list will help you identify areas you might think about paying for help in.
  • Consider your finances. If you run your business alongside a a salaried job, is it possible/affordable to reduce the hours you do in that job? If you free up your time from certain tasks can you make more money for the business and therefore how much money do you have to spend on help?
  • Are there any other resources you have in the business that could be used better?

Once you have worked out the areas where you might benefit from help and what your budget for help is you can think about where you might get that help:

  • Family members You might have a digital whizz of a teenager who will update your website much faster than you ever can or someone who will do your books for you each month. This is great as long as you are fair and it doesn’t become an imposition.
  • Outsourcing Do you need to make every piece you sell yourself? For example, if you work in metal an you have some pieces cast?   Would using a bookkeeping service or outsourcing your photography allow you to make enough new pieces to cover the cost and make money for you? There are lots of services you could use to outsource particular pieces of work. Look out for our second post today on Five ways to cut your business costs for more details of this.
  • Interns There may be a student who would like to learn more about a jewellery business who may been willing to help you in exchange for the chance to learn. They might be someone who can help you make pieces or someone with sales or marketing skills. This is a two-way relationship and shouldn’t exploit the intern. Be very clear about what is on offer to the the intern – expenses, training, etc – and what you need them to do. Also agree a time period for the internship. Letting your business becoming reliant on a person working for free is not a good idea.
  • Take on staff Whether you employ someone on a casual/freelance basis from time to time or take on an employee (including part-timers) you need to make sure you do it legally. With freelance staff you need to make sure they invoice you correctly and that you keep detailed records – there are rules about the nature of work that can be done on a freelance basis. If you are employing some directly there are several legal requirements such as paying the minimum wage and tax, and having employers’ liability insurance. You can find a guide to this on the Gov.UK website.

The right solution will depend on your jewellery business and it will mean change, but change is part of growing your business.

 

Special Business Week offers

Don’t forget about our special offers on business courses for this week only.

These offers are only available on booking made during Jewellery Business Week 21-27 February 2016 inclusive. Call 020 3176 0546.

Click here for more details of all the business courses included in this offer.

Jewellery Business Week: Five ways to cut your business costs

business-week-banner-2016

 

In order to increase your profit margins you either need to increase your prices or cut your costs. If your business is growing there may be some creative ways to cut your costs. LJS business tutor Anna Campbell outlines five ideas to get you started

Look for alternative suppliers/buy in bulk

 

When you are first starting in business it makes sense to just buy what you need when you need it. Investing in materials without guaranteed sales is a way to cause serious damage to your cash flow! But if your business is growing it is time to look for ways to cut the cost of each item you make. One way to do this is to look for alternative suppliers for your materials or to buy in bulk.

Alternative suppliers

Start your search with Google. Google has some specialist ways to search that you may not be aware of. Try putting in your search term e.g. ‘silver chain’ ‘headpins’ etc and then click on ‘shopping’. This will bring up web pages where your item is for sale, allowing you to make comparisons in an easier way than trawling through all the websites individually.

Buy in bulk

You can often get discounts if you buy in bulk. Even if your current supplier doesn’t seem to offer these do ask, you may be able to agree a deal. We have plenty of tips for this here.

 

  1. Getting casts of your work

If you make from silver or gold each piece can take a long time to perfect and finish. If you think your piece could be a bestseller consider getting a mould made of your original piece so you can get it cast. This can be done at a jewellery casters (do a search to find a local company). A mould is made and then multiple copies of your piece can be cast in any metal you like. There is some additional finishing work once the piece is cast but the overall cost per item should be less than making it from scratch each time.

 

  1. Sell through third party websites

If you are selling directly through your website it is likely that this is costing you a high monthly fee even in months where your sales aren’t great. You are also solely responsible for promoting your website and getting traffic to it.

However, there are now many third party websites where you can sell your jewellery including etsy, folksy, misi, dawanda and so many more.

The benefits of selling on these sites are

  • there is often a small listing fee then nothing to pay until you sell so no monthly costs (note – some sites charge a monthly fee but those listed above currently do not)
  • you benefit from their advertising and getting customers who do searches directly on the site

I sell using etsy and I use etsy mini to embed my etsy shop into my website. This is not as scary as it sounds!

If you are an etsy seller sign in to your account.

Click on your shop, promote, etsy mini. I suggest then choosing the options ‘items from my shop’ and ‘gallery’

There’s a box that says ‘paste this code’. Copy this. You’ll need to paste it onto your website in an html section.

You can see how it looks on my website here – the items look like they are available directly through my website but if a seller clicks on them they can buy them directly via etsy. Selling this way saves me about £120 a year in website merchandise fees. And check out our tips for selling on Etsy here.

 

  1. Outsourcing using freelancers

Sometimes when we need an expert to do a task the cost can be high and unexpected extras can crop up that you haven’t budgeted for. If you can hire someone in the family or a friend that could be a good option. However that can cause unexpected problems so my top tip is to try out a freelance site like People per Hour or Fiverr. On freelance sites you can post details of the job you want to be done, for example a logo design, leaflet design, web design, social media support etc. You will then receive proposals from freelancers who are interested in working with you. You can read reviews and look at other examples of their work. I’ve used people per hour many times and have been very happy with the cost and the results. With PPH you make a down payment to start the job, but the person doing the work doesn’t receive the money until you sign off that the work is done.

 

  1. Cut the cost of the postage and packing

When we first start a business postage and packing can be one of those things that we forget to factor in – both financially and in terms of time to package jewellery up and take it to the post office. Here are some tips to consider:

  • send items in pouches instead of jewellery boxes. They are lighter to ship and don’t take up so much room for the recipient
  • use postage boxes that can be sent as a large letter in the UK e.g. these from defenda box
  • consider setting up an account with a delivery company e.g. Hermes who can collect parcels saving you time and money
  • buy items like jiffy bags, pouches, tissue paper etc in bulk as the cost is generally lower
  • keep all your items for posting and packaging organised. Nothing wastes time like not being able to find the sellotape.

 

We would love to hear your advice on cutting business costs. What has worked for you? Please share your recommendations by making a comment on this post or via our instagram, twitter or facebook pages.

Anna Campbell is a metal clay artist and tutor at the London Jewellery School and runs her own jewellery business Campbell Hall Designs.

 

Special Business Week offers

Don’t forget about our special offers on business courses for this week only.

These offers are only available on booking made during Jewellery Business Week 21-27 February 2016 inclusive. Call 020 3176 0546.

Click here for more details of all the business courses included in this offer.