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Improving efficiency = improved profitability

As a craft business owner, there are a two ways to definitely improve the bottom line:

(1) cut expenses

(2) improve efficiency

Improving efficiency means streamlining processes so that you can devote more time to the areas of your business that make you money.

Example 1 – Quotes for custom quilts & sewing projects
For me, quoting a price for a project used to be torture. Not any more.  Time spent conducting competitive analysis and figuring real costs to produce a t-shirt quilt have paid off handsomely.  I developed a pricing worksheet that helps me figure pricing for various options/special services that clients request.  If a client requests expensive batik fabric for the quilt, I note it on the worksheet and attach receipts to the worksheet so I remember to bill it back to the customer on the final invoice.

Example 2 – Automate wherever possible
I currently use a cloud based accounting/bookkeeping system.  It’s free and it works for me.  I can invoice clients, accept payments and send receipts electronically.  The one thing that it does not do is allow me to track my time.  If pattern editing services pick-up, I may have to revisit things.   However, manual time tracking is currently working just fine.

Example 3 – Streamline steps in production process
Investing a few hundred bucks in a steam press and die cutting machine have really paid off in terms of time savings when it comes to making t-shirt quilts.  So has stocking up on the interfacing and batting I prefer to use.  Time spent experimenting with the best way to machine sew quilt binding has also paid off.  Quality is not compromised one iota!  Every little bit of time I can save translates into increased profitability for me per project.

Example 4 – Take time to plan
Every Sunday, I plan for the week ahead.  I write out my goals/to-dos for the day job, craft business and home.
I keep a master list of “things to buy” and keep retailer coupons in the car.  I know I’ll need a bolt of interfacing after my next t-shirt quilt.  I keep scanning the craft store ads for a 50% off deal or sale.  I’m also looking for 2 sturdy 6′ folding tables.  When I see a good price, I’ll buy them.

These are just a few of the things I do to improve my profitability.  What are some things you do?