After graduating in 2004 I tried to run my business, work full-time, have a social life, maintain relationships, visit family, keep my house clean, look after my pet and generally live my life but it all became a bit too much to handle. It shouldn't have been, but for me it was my business that took the hit. I wasn't keeping up to date with paperwork, staying in touch with my stockists, deadlines weren't met and going to the studio on my days off from my job didn't really seem enjoyable any more. When did my passion and what I trained in become a forgotten hobby?
When I got the opportunity to move in with family in Leicester as my husband re-trained as a carpenter, I jumped at the chance. I said goodbye to my friends and family and quit my job at Dunelm Mill in Dundee and moved 400 miles away to a place where I knew no-one outside the walls of my house.
We set up my workshop in the garage over Christmas 2011 and I started to work out where I was up to in terms of my business.
It has taken me a while to get organised and have my working week planned out but I am finally there. I have taken my lead from Angie Boothroyd's book, 'Setting Up a Successful Jewellery Business' and have started using Gantt planners to map out my week, month and year. I still get distracted by certain things but I'm learning to switch off computer programs I don't need open, shut the door to the workshop/office and not switch off my business brain when my other half comes home at 3pm.
I recently did a series of blog posts looking at my work and working out what I liked and didn't and more importantly what my customers liked and didn't like. I learnt a lot from this and will therefore be launching some new pieces very soon.
Planning my time has meant I now get more done in the time I have. Although I no longer have a job other than running my own business, I do go to Leicester College one day a week to do an accounting course, which I hope will be useful to my business and to my husband's future business. I have worked out that If I get my course work and private study out of the way on a Monday morning I have three and a half days to run my business.
Planning my week has been a learning curve. March is definitely not a carbon copy of February, for example. As well as having different commissions and exhibitions to prepare for, I have found that some tasks that I allocated to certain days don't take as long as I have allocated them or they work better on a different day.
I also have to factor in time to organise the regional group of the Association for Contemporary Jewellery that I set up (ACJ East Midlands). This doesn't take masses of time but does require me to organise meetings and last year we decided that we'd organise an exhibition that opened a week after my wedding day(!).
I am more productive now than I was this time last year and this helps me to get what I want from my business. I feel tired after my day at work and I feel like a business owner. It's only taken nine years!
I will be writing some blog posts about how I manage my paperwork, mistakes I have learnt from and a day in the life of a jeweller very soon, so keep an eye out for those.