Before I start this post, I have some fun news! The Dallas Morning News wrote an article about my fiancé, Philip, and me! How cool is that? Click the link to check it out, especially if you are a fan of the Myers Briggs.
Photo: Rachel Woolf, Dallas Morning News Staff Photographer
Anyway, on to business…
As the new year has begun, I’ve spent some time thinking about my vision for Wandering Paper Co. In my first blog post, I decided that after spending too much time overanalyzing, the best way to start this business was to just dive right in.
Well, I jumped in the deep end and am slowly learning to swim. Now that I’ve gotten started, it’s time to start asking tough questions about what’s worked and what hasn’t, what’s cost effective and what isn’t, and, since this is a side project, I have the luxury of asking myself what gives me joy and what doesn’t.
My sketchbook, where I brainstorm, sketch, and test prints
So, after giving it much thought, here are my goals for 2016:
- Implement systems to maximize efficiency and minimize costs
- Create a thorough accounting system that is flexible enough to adapt as I grow my business
- Maintain organized financial records
- Explore additional sales avenues: craft shows, farmers’ markets, wholesale
And most important:
- Make prints that give me joy!
You’re probably thinking, Alex, that list is incredibly dull. You just said ‘systems’ ‘financial records,’ and ‘maximize.’ Well, there is a reason my goals are boring. The other stuff (designing and making prints) is so much fun I’d do it anyway! For the boring stuff, I need a list.
It’s a big list, and I’ll probably write about each of these goals at some point, but today I’m going to focus on the first one: EFFICIENCY.
Ultimately, my goal is to create a business that is as self-sustaining as possible—that is, put systems in place to produce my work as effectively and efficiently as possible without sacrificing the quality or integrity of each piece. Right now, it costs me a significant amount of time to hand-carve each block, hand-pull each print, cut out every packaging label with an x-acto knife, cut out every shipping label, etc. etc.
So where are the areas I can make adjustments? I believe that hand-carving is important to the character and integrity of each piece—it’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice. So, I need to figure out a way to streamline the rest of the process…printing, cutting labels, product photography, blog posts, social media, etc.
I’ve also considered printing the cards (not prints) with a letterpress, which would speed up my process considerably. Right now, it is very expensive for me to produce hand-carved hand-printed cards, both in materials and in time. In fact, if I make just one error in the process—a card is bent, a print is smudged, the cat knocks it over—I LOSE money on that sale. That’s just not an effective way to run a business. If I used a letterpress, this would allow me to maintain a reasonable price point, retain the handmade quality of the cards (I would still hand-carve the blocks,) and recover a little bit of my sanity in not having to produce each one by hand. It’s a win-win, right?
Almost. The downside of doing that is that it requires a leap of faith financially, I would have to order the cards in higher quantities and hope I can sell them. This is a scary prospect, especially in the first year of business, when I really don’t know how many orders to expect. This brings my back to my original mantra: just dive in.
Well, 2016, here goes nothing…
Do you have any small business resolutions? Resolutions in general? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!