…building a business: boundaries

Life is so interesting when one is paying attention, isn’t it? Sometimes the same lessons in one’s personal life is parallel to what is happening in one’s business. Maybe Someone is taping us on the shoulder asking us to flex a certain muscle in order to be, well, happier & more productive.

Boundaries.

My therapist tells me that this is a developmental lesson and something that children must go through in order to be effective adults and create their own lives and perspectives. It is important for us all to learn to set boundaries and to learn to respect other’s boundaries.

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If you work from home or have a business where you ship from home, you need to set healthy boundaries for clients & potential clients. This lesson is usually learned the hard way. When I first started out and got my first bit of press, I decided to do Open Houses 2xs a week! What was I thinking? I was thinking I could do it all and then some. Guess what, I couldn’t. I needed time to finish my coffee, write on my site, chat with my kids, cook, read….shower.

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I had to keep the toys picked up and everything spotless – not to mention bringing in loads of furniture to display & sell in my own, personal space. Things went wrong quickly. I love meeting new people, talking design & painting, but the lines between my work & my home life were becoming too intertwined. Worlds were colliding and that was not good for anyone!

I became tired & cranky. I needed to set boundaries and feel good about them. It took me a while to realize that I could see be seen & have my business while keeping a piece of my life separate. I could set drop off hours and make set appointments. I could say no to jobs with visions that did not align with mine. I didn’t have to have my door open to the world at all times. Wow!

Peace comes with boundaries because you are parenting yourself and making room for your needs.

Why are we not good at setting boundaries? Maybe we are not good at paying attention to our own needs before it’s too late. As I parent my own child I can see their needs – when it’s nap time, when they’ve had enough at the park, when they are hungry. It’s easy to see a child’s needs, but to see our own can be difficult. Maybe it feels selfish or we can push through it or we think we are tough as nails and people/things cannot push us down. We are human – not people of steal.

This lesson also goes for those of us that have a business where we are the only ones on the payroll. When we are overworked and just feel plain tired. Guess what – that is OK! It’s normal and we all need to take a break, especially creative people. We need to recharge to make space in our brains for ideas.

Boundaries keep us safe and sane. It is not meanness, it’s knowing our own limits. Feeling pushed? Pulled? Take a pause, take a breath and set some appropriate boundaries that you can live with. Take a lesson from a cat – they are pretty good at doing what they need to do at all times.

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…Building a Business: Pricing

Pricing is not easy and if you’ve asked anyone in a creative business they will probably tell you the same thing. How can you put a price on something so personal? How do you know what the market can bear? If you are starting out, what are people willing to pay? Do I include my time-spent initally? Materials? Cost?

What I never fully understood about business and furniture in particular before starting Blue Egg Brown Nest, was that there was a major cost involved with each project I was to work on.

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I had to spend time finding a piece, pay for the piece, pay for materials (paint, brushes, rags, space, wax, dark wax), pay to have it moved to my home, and spend the time completing and marketing the finished product. Whew! So sorry, dear friends, about not being able to give pieces away for free – that would mean at least $200/$300 out of my pocket for cost and probably more than that depending on the piece. Did. Not. Understand. That. At. First.

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I think if I was going to offer a bit of advice on the subject of pricing, the best strategy for me is to shop. Go out there and find items that are similar to yours online and in stores. Check out Etsy and markets and even retail. What is your product going for?

Second, how well do people know you. That does have alot to do with it because people want to know that you have a quality product and good reputation so that they will feel comfortable about paying the price you ask. This is getting a bit more easy with sites like Etsy because you can post images and do a bio – your marketing will be what catches the buyer’s eye and convinces them that you are quality.

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Standards. Like in dating, people will rise to the standard that you set. This means that you don’t want to give away your product for next to nothing. Buyers want to feel as though they’ve purchased something of value. I don’t know about you, but I treat the my Tori Burch handbag much nicer than the little clutch I bought from Old Navy. Same thing. I feel like you need to add value to your items by setting a price that exudes quality. Of course, it’s a fine line because you need to be realistic. Once you are more well-known for your craft you can adjust your prices accordingly. For example, when I first started out, I did not factor in my time spent. I didn’t feel like I had the right to do that. Now I feel as though if I am taking away time from my family and working really hard, then I should factor that in. Pricing is fluid and you may find yourself adjusting from year to year. Just don’t do too much or your client will get mad at you.

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Play. If you have a one-of-a-kind, amazing creation/piece/project that you’ve completed, play with pricing it high and let it sit. The higher you price pieces, the less inquiries you will get. BUT, it just takes that one perfect fit and it’s worth the wait if you have the space to hold your piece. Then price pieces that are a bit easier for you to create at a lower number. Things may sell quicker if you price lower, but that does mean you will have to work harder and faster to keep up with demand. This may be okay for some. For me, I want to also have time for my family & for myself and, frankly, I don’t want to work like a dog.

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As my DT (dear therapist) says, it’s all about balance. If you are looking to make a real profit, you will need to work hard and spend alot of time. If you are doing it out of enjoyment, then you can play a bit more with pricing. Just please make sure that you factor in YOUR own costs and recoop then. Otherwise, the process if going to become very frustrating. At the end of the day it is not about the profit and if it is, you probably shouldn’t be doing something so personal & creative to make your money. Have integrity in what you are doing by respecting it’s value. You many not become rich, but you will feel good about carrying on to your next piece and building your business.

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