The financial stuff is more complex than I thought

Yesterday I started the deep dive: writing out a business plan. It wasn’t too difficult at that point, because I was getting into who I was, what the brand was, which people were members of my target market, evidence of need. Up next is the more complicated stuff, and that is, well, financial. Luckily, I have the ability to learn, and the resources to do so. It also looks like it’s not really difficult math…and there are other resources I’ve accessed to refresh my knowledge of how to work problems that I at one time knew how to do.

Yeah…it’s not so scary when someone helps you work through it, even if that, “someone,” simply wrote a book. I did realize that I had grossly overestimated and oversimplified the work I would need to get to my break-even point in my last entry…it’s really not that high. My fixed costs — i.e. my “overhead” — isn’t high at all; and if I’m smarter about spending (instead of focusing on acquiring a designer’s stash of materials to experiment with), I can get away with lower pricing.

If I actually work in some things like using pre-made chains, for example…I can cut my materials costs and labor time down drastically and still produce some pretty nice necklaces by making pendants and selling them as a set. It also makes sense to me now why so many artists (for example, on Etsy) sell materials as well as finished pieces: it’s a quick way to make money that doesn’t require the time that finished pieces do.

I didn’t realize until breaking into the last chapter I read that I was getting to the point where I had to work out pricing and think about whether this was profitable, and if so, by how much. That breaks down into prices, taxes, deductions, credit, and expenses — from what I can tell (I just thought that up on the fly, please no one take it as gospel).

Right now I’m trying to figure out how much I want to invest in this; how serious I am about making and selling jewelry as a mode of income. Do I want to do it part-time? Can I even think about surviving off of it full-time? (Do I want to do it full time?) What about the crazy stupid high cost of living where I am now? Will I need to relocate if I want to work for myself and make jewelry full-time? If so, to where? Would I be able to tolerate (or appreciate) the culture I’d be putting myself into?

Or do I want to do this on the side, and have a stable day job in LIS? Would I want to augment my pay with being a Freelance Content Writer or Freelance Copy Editor, in addition to having a “hobby” or small business as a Beader and/or (eventually) Jeweler? (“Jeweler” typically means Silversmith or Goldsmith, and requires a different setup…but I could easily see myself as an Art Jeweler; it’s where I was going with my Smithing classes.)

These questions are all valid, and together they determine what I do with my resources. The flat truth is, though, that I don’t have enough information to work all of them out, at the moment. As we say in LIS, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Finding out what I don’t know, and what I need to know, should make things clearer. As well: with finding a stable job, or even a Contract job, some of this falls down to attentiveness and luck and fit and persistence.

Then, there are also some things — in the Business plan — still to work out, like local and State taxes. I know I’ll need to renew my Resale license, but from what I can tell, I’m not officially “In Business” unless I aim to make a profit, and do make a substantial profit in three out of five consecutive years. Until then, I might just be a hobbyist that earns money on the side — at least, where I live now.

Sweet spot: I think that if I have a Resale license, I can buy materials Wholesale, which should be about half the cost of retail; meaning I can slash my prices while earning, possibly, a more decent salary. The drawback is just having to submit quarterly payments to cover tax on “projected earnings” — or, what you think you will sell, before you actually do sell. If you’re categorized as a Business, you can also write off the cost of materials from your Federal taxes, apparently. (?! You can’t do that as a Hobbyist.)

Again…my question is, do I really want to do this, and if I really want to do this, to what degree do I want to do this? At the same time as I’m working on this Business Plan, I’m not really producing any more jewelry — I can’t write and read and study and work at the same time as I’m caring for myself, with the hours I have right now. I’m adjusting. I am learning a lot, however, and it will be useful knowledge down the road.

If I intend to be a Freelance Writer/Content Producer and/or Freelance Copyeditor and/or Beadworker, I’ll need to know how to manage my own finances. Having been in the Library Science program, and having worked in Public Libraries; and with the other Business classes I’ve taken, I also have some knowledge of Customer Service and Marketing. Over the years, I’ve also gleaned some knowledge as to how to make engaging blog posts (which I don’t always do, but it’s not always my goal to increase views…this is a blog, and serves a purpose for myself, as well as for my readers and my community).

Coming up…I have a couple of classes lined up for Summer Session, and I am not really sure how much that will take out of me. It’s a total of nine units (over a little more than a month — ha!), but they’re Undergrad/Lower Division, and I’ve attempted similar (with success) when I actually was in Undergrad. I figure that I can deal with several weeks of intense effort put into something other than beading, and it might expand my horizons as to what I want to do (and what I can do).

I’ve found that I don’t hate Data Entry (my own records have intensively helped me — particularly when it comes to avoiding duplicate purchases [I guess I have recognizable taste] and knowing what I don’t already have), and maybe I wouldn’t hate Accounting, either. Both Data Entry and Accounting may be ways of earning a steady income without subjecting me to public contact. The same may go for Metadata Librarian/Metadata Analyst, Cataloger, Taxonomist. (And yes, I may have to hire a Sales representative…eventually.)

I decided that it would be a relative waste of my time to re-take Career and Life Planning (I have a fairly clear idea of what I want to do, what I can do but might not want to, and what I absolutely don’t want to do). I’m doing one Computer Science class (I want to learn how hardware works) and one Business class (a variant of Accounting). I’ve wanted to take both classes in the past, and in fact I began Accounting, but I got the flu and would have infected a bunch of people if I had tried to stay. My instructor didn’t want us to miss any sessions…but I was super sick, running a fever, and it was just gross. I then couldn’t make up that session…and dude was teaching live. I didn’t want to ask him to repeat three hours of teaching as personal tutoring, so I Withdrew with the idea of coming back to it, later.

Little did I know that making jewelry would still be a viable option for me later in life. When I was in the Business program the first time, we had an economic downturn (oh, surprise), and I didn’t think I could (or should) bet on selling things no one really needed. Jewelry is a luxury item, and the economy was tanking.

I also hadn’t really come into my own as regards my knowing why I even wore jewelry…because it had nothing to do with attracting men (or women). It took a while to realize that I was wearing jewelry for myself, because I liked it, because it made me feel good. And I had the choice and the desire to mold myself in my own image. It’s not for other people. It’s not to be, “feminine.” It has to do with me and how I want to live and present.

I don’t think that’s a message that one sees strongly coming out of fashion design, but it’s my own angle. I didn’t hit upon it until a few years ago, however. I guess that’s what maturity will get you: I don’t know if I’d call it self-knowledge, or self-understanding. The latter goes farther…

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). Currently, they are trying to figure out whether to place their energies more into language and language arts, or producing handcrafted jewelry, for the interim...

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