PART 5: GETTING THE BEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT:
Getting Terms, Getting Paid, Getting Crowd Funding
It is very feasible to start and run a successful business selling hand made products. This series of articles introduces you to the things you will need along the way as you develop your business financial management road-map, and seek to get your best return on investment (ROI).
g) ROI: Getting Terms
Whenever possible, I suggest trying to get net terms with your suppliers. Net terms is a form of trade credit. Instead of paying upfront for your supplies, your suppliers will give you some predetermined period of time to pay for these goods. You get your supplies right away without having to pay until an agreed-upon future date.
Usually, you would get Net 30 terms, meaning you would pay within 30 days. Sometimes, if you have not paid within the terms set, you might get assessed a penalty fee.
To apply for net terms with any supplier, you would submit a Credit Sheet.
You will want to prepare a Credit Sheet which lists the following information. You give this sheet to businesses where you want to apply for terms. When you buy things from businesses, you can pay cash (sometimes check or credit card) — this is considered Pre-Payment. You can pay COD (cash on delivery), but there is usually an extra COD charge tacked on. Or you can pay on terms or “on account”, usually signified as Net 30 or Net 10, where you would have 30 or 10 days to pay your bill. If you don’t pay within that time, the business may take away your privilege to buy on terms, or charge you a late fee.
The information which goes into the credit sheet includes:
- Your Name
[If you have a partnership, you will have to list all the names and their home address]
- Your Business Address, Phone, Email, Web-site address.
- A paragraph which summarizes what your business is about. Use keywords the companies you are applying to use in their own marketing materials.
- The date your business was founded
- Whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation
- Your Personal Address, Phone
- Your State Resale Number
- Your Federal EIN number, if you have one; otherwise put your Social Security Number
- Your Business-Related Bank Account Numbers (checking account, savings account)
- At least 3 Business References — their Names, addresses, phones, fax numbers, and your customer account number with each of these businesses. It’s important to have the Fax number and your Customer Number. Many businesses will not communicate credit information by phone. [The more business references you have, the better.] Ideally, you would list 3+ other businesses that you already have terms with. When you are just getting started, sometimes you have to use some fuzzy-logic here.
h) ROI: Getting Paid
Getting paid for your work can range from the straight-forward to the nightmare. If you are doing a lot of custom work, your clients will probably pay you in increments, say 50% up front, and 50% upon completion. If you are doing a lot of consignment, the shops may pay for anything of yours that sells perhaps quarterly. If you are selling wholesale to other retailers, you might have extended them terms, say Net 30, where you expect to get paid at the end of the term period.
For each piece sold, or for several pieces sold at the same time, you will be generating some kind of invoice. Each month, you might also be following up with your customers with a statement form, showing what has been paid, and what still needs to be paid.
INVOICE or STATEMENT FORMS (2-part forms — one for you and one for your customer). You can get a blank pad at a local stationery store, or have these pre-printed with your business name, address and phone.
i) ROI: Crowd-Funding
Crowd-funding is when you seek funding from angel investors, government grants, loans or crowdfunding campaigns online, like with Kickstarter, to fund your creative pursuits. Crowd-funding creates financing opportunities. You might be looking to start a line of jewelry (or other designed product or project) and mass produce and distribute it. You might be looking to franchise your business. You might have a product idea that you believe has great market potential.
Other crowd-funding platforms include Indiegogo and Ivylish. These provide a great opportunity for upcoming and small design businesses who have an especially marketable idea. Each site has rules, requirements and fees. It is important to research what types of design projects are most successful and least successful on each site.
The most popular crowd-funding campaigns offer a reward to the backers. This could be in the form of product, money, or an opportunity to participate in an event.
Crowd-funding gives the designer an opportunity to pre-test his or her ideas and how the market will respond to these ideas.
- Pitches with video presentations work best
- Have clear and concise goals; any potential backer should be very clear about the parameters of your project and what their money should be going towards
- You want your audience to be able to visualize your project; show them in images what you have done before, and what you hope to do with this project; make them want it
- Reach out to your inner circle first, and evidence of their backing will legitimize and validate you and your project as you reach out to the larger market; enlist them as deputized marketers, asking them to spread the word, increasing your visibility and exposure, through their own social media connections
- Name your donation levels in a clever and tied-in way; you might point out that they could donate the price of a coffee or price of a cab fare to make it easier to understand how to donate to your campaign
- It helps to offer samples of your work or promotional items like stickers, posters, autographs, even T-shirts with your products branding on these
- The campaign will be a commitment of time and energy; you will always be hustling; no time to sit back and watch
- Keep your backers up-to-date with posts, newsletters, whatever
- If your donations slow down to a trickle, try a new approach to your marketing
- Remember, many campaigns reach their final goal in the eleventh hour
Accounting, bookkeeping, inventory management, record keeping, business relationships with financial institutions and suppliers are in place. You still won’t be able to achieve that sweet spot between risk and reward without the appropriate business growth mind-set. In the creative marketplace, where your success relies on both your artistic/design, as well as your business, acumen, this can be difficult for you. But it can be done. With that right mind-set.
Continue with this series,
Financial management includes all the things you need to do in order to maximize your Return On Investment (ROI). It mostly involves a system of data collection, monitoring and analysis methods employed by any successful business. This system relates risks to rewards. Activities in this kind of system include things such as general accounting and bookkeeping, inventory management, and record keeping. These include things you do to establish and maintain formal relationships with employees, independent contractors and suppliers. These include things you do to secure your money, such as with banks, financial institutions, and even such things as crowd-funding online. This is a lot of numbers and activities, and often, when we look at why people fail in business, it is often because of a generalized fear of getting control over all this. Successful business people and successful businesses need to foster a culture which promotes a growth mindset. Simply this is a culture where you have permission and encouragement and confidence to take risks.
GETTING THE BEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)
Campbell, Casandra. What Is Inventory Management? How To Track Stock For Your Ecommerce Business, Inventory Management, 6/19/20.
As referenced in:
Caramela, Sammi, 10 Essential Tips For Effective Inventory Management, Business News Daily, 4/15/2020.
As referenced in:
Dweck, Carol. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, 2006
Fundbox.com. Trade Credit: Everything you need to know about net terms for your business. n.d.
As referenced in:
Shah, Vyom. Crowdfunding the Jewelry business, 11/27/14.
As reference in:
Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:
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