So what is the difference between being a crafter, and being an entrepreneur? Well, being an entrepreneur makes me nervous, having a hobby does not. Folks with a hobby don't keep receipts and tax records, pay rent for retail space or have business cards on their person at all times, yet I do all these things. In contrast, most entrepreneurs use their business to support themselves. If I had to live on the income from my shops and shows, my address would be the cardboard box behind McDonald's! I rely on my job as an operating room nurse to pay bills, including rent on a house, and sometimes rent on the retail space when I didn't make enough at the shop that month to cover it.
The thing is, I really want to be an entrepreneur, although the uncertainty of it is anxiety-producing. I'm pretty sure that I would really dig making a living from refinishing furniture, running a shop, doing trunk shows, and blogging. No clock to punch, no more middle-of -the night cases on call. So I feel pressured to be profitable, or at the very least break even, doing what I do. This is becoming even more important because we are sending my daughter off to a fairly pricey private college in a few weeks. I feel like I shouldn't be spending money on my hobby-business (or clothes, or hair color, or even brand name laundry soap for that matter). Certainly, I shouldn't be spending money that wasn't made by the hobby-business to pay for a big order to take to the next trunk show, or buy supplies to finish a project.
Let me mention here that the pressure to make money at this comes only from myself. No one around me is telling me I'm wasting time or money. My hubbs doesn't track what I spend, or nag me if I'm paying the shop rent out of the grocery budget. No, the pressure I feel comes only from within myself. It's a character flaw, I think. If I'm going to do something, actually almost anything, it has to be to the nth degree. If I'm going to have a shop and vend through trunk shows, then I must be profitable, or be stressed out about it.
So, through my own fault, I am feeling the pressure to do things differently. I need to keep an inventory of what is in the shop; I honestly have no idea how much my inventory is worth. I don't know for sure that I'm paid for everything that leaves the shop, because I don't keep up with it very well; I just trust the market owner to capture the sales and pay me. I see that things have sold, because there are "holes" in my booth space, but I couldn't tell you right now exactly what has sold in the last two weeks. I also have no idea of what my durable inventory, like power tools, and displays, is worth. Although my garage is full (really, really full) I don't know if I have all the supplies to finish even one project. As a crafter, this is all perfectly acceptable. As an small business owner, its just crazy.
I have a business and retail background. My first degree was a Bachelor of Business Arts in marketing and management. I've worked in retail sales, in retail management, I've been a nurse manager, and ran a home day care business for three years. I know what I need to do. I just don't want to do it. There is a false comfort in "fuzzy accounting." If I don't know for sure that I'm in the red for the month, then maybe I'm not. If I lose an invoice or receipt or two, its OK. After all, its not really a business, yet.
However, the saying "fake it til you make it" comes to mind. If I treat it like a business, and keep up with inventory, and sales, and records, and marketing, then perhaps someday it really will become a business, and make enough that I can be a "real" entrepreneur. I'm thinking its about time to give it a shot.
More from living