Using Data in Your Business

Huh?  I’m a creative type.  I don’t do numbers.
Data?  What’s that?
How could data possibly help MY business?   More than you think.

Do you have a contact management system or a way to keep up with your clients?  I keep customer information in a Google Doc spreadsheet.

How do you track your money?  Are you making a profit or loss?  What’s your cost of goods sold?  I use Outright online software and make time each week to log my expenses, receipts, etc.

Are you spending too time on the wrong parts of the business?  Analyzing my sources of income made me realize that a higher percentage of my income comes from baby/t-shirt quilts rather than teaching.  I was in denial about this for a while.  Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching, but the day job got in the way of running the after school craft club I envisioned when I set up my business.  Quilts can be made at home around said day job.  I have merely moved the focus of my business in a different direction.

Is your product priced competitively?  An afternoon spent visiting the competition – in person or online – will be time well spent.  Write down prices for similar items and be sure to compare feature by feature. I have two pricing structures – one specifically for t-shirt quilts and one based on quilt size.    One of my customers told me she didn’t think I charged enough for a quilt I made and knew her friends would want a baby quilt once they saw hers.  I carefully considered all costs and set the base price a little higher, confident that I was pricing fairly for my work.

Do you know how long it takes to make an item/what the materials really cost?  Keep track of your time while making items.  It’s a royal pain, but you’ll have a much clearer understanding of the time involved when scheduling and quoting jobs.  I took the time to figure the exact cost of materials for the various size quilts I make.  40″ is the max size for a small quilt because anything larger will require more yardage to piece the quilt back.  I also prefer to cut my borders on the straight of grain and not piece the borders.  This requires more fabric.