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10 Things I Wish I’d Known About the Craft Industry

If you’ve been reading my articles here on Creative Income for a while, you probably know that I’m a serial entrepreneur. That is, I’ve owned one business after another since my senior year of high school. I won’t tell you what year I graduated but it’s been a long, long time.

One thing about owning so many businesses is that I’ve learned a few things along the way – some the easy way and some the hard way.

Julie Balzer and Vicki O'Dell on the set of Scrapbook Soup

Julie Balzer and I on the set of Scrapbook Soup. Don’t be afraid to try new things and step out of your comfort zone – I did!

Here are 10 things I wish I had known sooner:

  1. Good employees are GOLDEN. If you are operating a small business, chances are that you aren’t paying very much and you can’t offer many benefits, either. If you find an employee that is hard working and easy to get along with, there are ways to bump up the benefits so that you can still afford her while making her feel like she’s getting a good deal, too. Do those things!
    1. If your employee can bring a child to work (if not every day or afternoon, then maybe on occasion)  and not have to pay day care, that is a big deal.
    2. Be sure to give something a little extra for birthdays, major holidays and maybe her employment anniversary. It doesn’t have to be much, just show that you care.
    3. Show appreciation. Don’t take a good worker for granted or you will wind up having to do all of the work yourself.
  2. There will be bad times. You may lose a contract, a customer or a whole boat load of money in your business. The thing to keep in mind is that you can overcome these obstacles if you give yourself the chance, stay calm and think things through. I lost a business several years ago after taking out a second mortgage on my house and I’m still paying it off. It hurts but it’s not killing me. And I’m off running another business too!
  3. It’s just a business. Yes, you’ve put your heart and soul into it along with lots of blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights. But lets face it – in the face of a major life changing event, a business is something you can give up if you really have to. Keep your perspective and be realistic.
  4. You need a plan. Even if you simply sketch out a flow chart on a napkin or write down how you want your business to look in five years, you need some kind of a plan.
  5. Know your core strengths. I’m an ideas person. I like to share my ideas and then have someone else make them happen. Knowing that about myself makes it easier to reign in my million ideas because I know that I’m the one that will actually have to implement them. I’m also not so good at numbers, so I leave all of that up to the professionals.
  6. Owning a business is really hard work but it also allows for lots of flexibility. Learn to make your business flow with your life so you can have the  life you really want.
  7. Most things are harder than you think they will be. Go into it with the expectation that it will be harder than you think, but do it anyway. You’ll learn and figure it out as you go and you’ll feel pretty great after you figure it out.
  8. It’s okay to be afraid, shy, worried or anxious about new circumstances, situations and opportunities. Do it anyway. I was really nervous to be on Scrapbook Soup but I did it anyway and had a lot of fun!
  9. You are smarter than you think. Just because you don’t have a set of skills in your wheelhouse today, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn and put those skills in your wheelhouse later on. You can learn almost anything you need to from a website, YouTube or a mentor.
  10. It’s okay to say NO. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person and there is no reason to feel guilty. Say, “No, that doesn’t work for me” and then move on to things that do work for you. You’ll be so glad you did and the person you said no to will be glad (eventually) that you didn’t waste their time.


Are there things you wish you’d known before you started your business?


By: Vicki O’Dell, The Creative Goddess

Learn more about Vicki!


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