…A Guide For The Aspiring Bead Artist
by Warren S. Feld

Excerpts From This Ever-Evolving Tale.....

I don’t mean to drag a poor Elephant by its tail, kicking and screaming, into our bead world against its wishes. Nor do I perceive the elephant to be a threat, like you might see an Elephant in the boudoir, or the fine china store. And I don’t want you to shut your eyes and pretend not to notice that this Elephant is here, standing shoulder to shoulder with every beader and jewelry maker around.

The Elephant is not a joke. And the fact that it is “Rogue” makes it more important than ever to figure out why it’s here, among size #10 English beading needles, and Czech size 11/0 seed beads, and Austrian crystal beads. It seems so worldly, yet other-worldly, our Elephant. It’s not our muse. It’s not our Cassandra. It has no secret plan or strategy. It does not depend on its size to make its point. It does not hesitate to stomp and chomp and clomp because the beads before it are raku or glass or gemstone or crystal or metal or plastic. But a Rogue Elephant in the middle of our craft room forces upon us a completely different logic, so that we can make sense of it all.|




Yesterday, all you heard from anyone and everyone is “I’ve got to get this done before the rain.”

And it never rained.

The weather forecasters on all three network stations foretold of rain. All day. Heavy at times. Don’t forget the umbrella. And the raincoat. It’s going to be wet. Very wet.

So when James ran his errands, “I want to get these done before it rains.” And when Nola came to work early, “I wanted to get to work before it rains.” And when the postal man delivered the morning mail, “I want to get these delivered before it rains.”

The whole day – one big day of high stress avoidance “before it rains.”

And everyone knows that the weather forecasts in Nashville are rarely correct. We had threatening skies in the morning, then sunshine and clear skies, then some threatening skies, and then more sunshine. And on and on. But no rain.

I’m not sure why they can’t get the forecasts right in Nashville. They should be able to see the weather coming for hundreds of miles before it gets here. They can even look out their windows before they broadcast.

They could have saved Kathleen rushing to her car “before it rains,” and Lou hurrying to lunch “before it rains,” and Desmona trying to finish up her necklace, “before it rains.”

Weather forecasters think about the weather every single day – and rarely get it right – at least in Nashville. Imagine if their paychecks were tied to performance. They might be forced to analyze the data before them, instead of merely reading it. They might have to develop strategies for managing large sets of information, and how to make choices about which information is more important or more relevant than others. They might want to standardize the data to make it more manageable. They might have to think how they present this information, do some reality-checking, and get people to listen to it. So they might need a marketing plan or model. Since their job is forecasting, they might have to develop planning models to anticipate the future.

When you start your jewelry making business, you won’t have the luxury of the weather forecasters of missing the mark, without suffering consequences. You need to sell jewelry that people want to buy. If you anticipate things incorrectly, your business will go belly up.

So, in your jewelry-making business, you will need to manage and coordinate information about materials, costs and prices, fashions, styles, measurements, revenues and expenses. You will need to be able to choose parts, assemble them into appealing pieces, get these pieces out into the public where people buy jewelry, and entice people to actually purchase them at the price which makes it profitable for you to continue making things.

How you conceptualize all this is called your “Business Model”. Your business model describes what you intend to make, how you intend to price it, where you intend to sell it, all the tangible things you need to make this happen, all the intangible things you need to make this happen, and what you hope to achieve when you are done – money, wealth, status, satisfaction, self-esteem.

One easy way to get a handle on all this information, and how to strategically conceptualize it, is the Input-Thru-put-Output model.

Here you reduce each type of activity you plan on doing into three categories – inputs, thru-puts and outputs.

Think about everything you need to do in your business to make it work – Inputs.
Think about everything you need to do in your business to make it work – Thru-puts.
Think about everything you need to do in your business to make it work – Outputs.

Inputs are tangible things you need in place in order to accomplish the task. Inputs could include tables, computers and chairs. These could be people. These could be consumable supplies, jewelry making supplies, and tools and equipment.

Thru-puts are all the intangible and process-type things you need in place in order to accomplish the task. Thru-puts could include researching, marketing, and administering. They could include traveling, phoning, and communicating. They could include designing, assembling, and selling jewelry. They could include having energy and motivation.

Outputs are the things you want to result. You want to have a certain amount of inventory on hand. You want to make a certain number of pieces of jewelry each month. You want to have a repeat business of 30% or more. You want to add one new site that sells your jewelry each month. You want a certain income. You want a certain level of self-satisfaction.

As you reduce your major activities to inputs-thru-puts and outputs, this becomes, in effect, your Business Model. It tells you in simple terms what you need to do, how you need to do it, what resources you need on hand, and what you hope to achieve. It also helps you clarify if some of your activities are competing with each other for time and resources or complementing each other for time and resources.

To put your Business Model into effect, you first identify your CONTENT and CONTEXT.
What do you want to sell? What are your products? Where to you intend to sell them?

Say you are beginning your jewelry-making business, and have decided to put some of your jewelry on consignment, and sell other jewelry at home shows.

Consignment might make you more reliant on a car. It ties up money and inventory. It usually requires a lot of effort to collect your money from the stores to which you’ve consigned your jewelry. While you initially have to sell yourself to the store, it is the store that is expending the effort to maintain your jewelry, market it, train their staff about it, and sell it.

Home shows might make you less reliant on a car. Successful home shows require clever marketing – particularly in gathering and maintaining mail and email lists. You will usually need to make a lot of inventory for the show. You will be the marketer and seller. You’ll make more money, and have more control over how your jewelry is showcased to the public. You may have more need for equipment, like a computer, telephone, copy machine. You will need display supplies, invoice/statement forms.

Translate your activities into INPUTS, THRU-PUTS and OUTPUTS.

Inputs: jewelry supplies, finished jewelry, car, list of consignment shops, consignment agreement
Thru-puts: researching consignment opportunities, making jewelry, keeping abreast of when your pieces sell and collecting your money
Outputs: number of pieces sold; number of stores where you consign your jewelry

Inputs: jewelry supplies, finished jewelry, home setting, email/mail lists, invoice forms
Thru-puts: marketing your home show, making jewelry, setting up your home shows, tracking sales
Outputs: number of pieces sold; percent of contacts who show up; number of home shows you conduct

If you wanted to get a loan from a bank, you would translate your input/thru-put/output business model into a more formal business plan.

As we begin to elaborate on both activities – consignment and home shows – it becomes clear that each requires a different set of marketing and administrative skills, even though for both, you will be creating jewelry.

And things change. You need to anticipate this

During the next year or two, you might find that two or three of the consignment shops in your area have gone out of business. You might find that people are getting bored or otherwise resistant to return to your home shows or to the specific place where you’ve located your home shows. You may have established an initial reputation using Czech lampwork beads, and now these once very popular beads are no longer in fashion. You may have assumed that the typical customer profile was a working woman in her late 30’s, and that profile has changed to college age girls, some who work and some who don’t.

It turns out that your Business Model is never static. It is not a one-time exercise. It is something that you have to think about every single day of your business life. The world changes, fashions change, the business cycle changes, the competition changes. By reducing all your activities to inputs/thru-puts/outputs, it makes it a lot easier to visualize and think about all the things you have to do, and all the adjustments and adaptations you have to make to your model, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month and year-by-year, to stay in business.

And you never have to worry about getting caught in the rain.



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