A professional longarm machine quilter for hire and some of the work I've done.
When I was first starting out as a machine quilter money was very tight. One day I asked a friend for a small loan to buy groceries. My friend said, “When are you going to give up playing with your hobby all day and get a real job?” EXCUSE ME? This IS my real job.
Those words were a turning point for me. I knew right then and there that if I didn’t get my act together to look professional and act professional no one would ever take me seriously. I got my DBA out and put it on the wall for everyone to see. I don’t usually keep the $20 bill in the frame. I pulled it out of storage to take the picture. I usually keep a $1 there instead. I don’t want to tempt any of the neighborhood kids with a $20 on the wall.
To start being taken seriously; I set my business hours and started working them. I stopped working my pajamas. I did all the things I would do IF I had my business in a completely different building and had to commute. Housework got done before and after working hours. Errands and taxi rides got shifted to the times I was not working. I told absolutely everyone……just because I don’t drive back and forth to work doesn’t mean my job is any less important. If a neighbor needed a ride to the doctor….call a taxi. If my child wanted a ride to the mall….take the bus. If a relative wanted to visit…wait until evening or the weekend.
So let me ask you….how do your friends and family view your business? Are they merely indulging your nice hobby? Do your kids expect you to drive them here and there when you should be working? Do the kids or spouse constantly interrupt your work to do something with them or for them?
How do you, yourself, view your business? Do you constantly interrupt yourself to go fold laundry or get onto the computer? Seriously, how often do you stop working on a quilt to go do something else? Or procrastinate starting the day. How often do you work a full day at what is supposed to be your job?
Could you stop work at an office…..at any time you wanted…..to run home and fold laundry? Could you stop the assembly line of a factory just so you could get onto a computer to check email? Could your friends or relatives drop by the assembly line to visit if you worked in a factory? If you can’t do those things at “real” jobs, then why are you still doing them during your business hours? Maybe you really don’t think of your business as anything more than an income producing hobby either?
Before you can determine a realistic waiting list schedule, you have to know how many hours of quilting are being fitted into your time box. Is it one hour a day? A day now and then? In between family obligations? In between computer or tv time? Part time or full time? Is it early morning, late night, or whenever you can have the house all to yourself.
If you find you are in a situation where no one takes your business seriously maybe it’s time for a family meeting? Discuss the business with everyone to find out how they see your work? Explain to the kids that if you ask them to do a household chore….you’re not asking because you don’t want to do it yourself…..you’re asking because they have a stake in your business too. If you don’t earn the money…..they can’t spend it.
Everyone in the house has a stake in how successful your business will become. Your business doesn’t belong to just you…..its a family business…..it belongs to all the people who help you spend the profits.
If you think about it….all the really famous quilters (of any type) have the backing of everyone in their family. Especially the spouse. Many husbands will take over household chores like cooking or running errands to give the wife the freedom to stay with the quilting work. Those are the quilters who eventually become famous. Don’t believe me? Go ahead, pick any famous quilter and do some research.
Sigh….I can only imagine what would be possible for me if I had the kind of support and encouragement they have. I would love to have someone around to help with the cleaning and cooking while I continued to quilt. Or to discuss my next art project….
Uh, where was I? Oh yes, realistic scheduling. Ok, I realize some quilters must put family obligations before working time. That’s the great thing about being in business for one’s self. You are the boss so you set the working hours. If you have a family meeting and find you can only work one day a week….then don’t let anything get in the way of that one day. If you can’t work but one hour a day….then make sure you don’t let anything interrupt that one hour.
Yes, yes, of course there will be emergencies. But how often do you have real emergencies? The nice thing about a time box is you can move things around and still fit them in. Trust me, running a child to the mall because tomorrow is a field trip and they HAVE to have a new outfit is not an emergency. If you have an emergency once a week….maybe you should be selling insurance instead.