Dream a little dream

Week 1.

I'm Mali. I live by the sea in the UK, a little over an hour outside London - my hometown. I have a long list of plans to create my mighty life - one of which is starting a small, creative business (the rest can be found here: http://gomighty.com/user/malicat/goal/#goals)

I have dreamt about starting a business for the longest time, and even gave up a proper corporate job to pursue the dream. Eight years ago. Still dreaming...

I spent five years working part time and training to make jewellery, then I had a baby. Now I still work part time but jewellery is on hiatus until I can make a safe space to play with metals and chemicals again. A lot of my jewellery incorporates drawings (etched), which have the great benefit that they don't involve naked flames, metal filings or corrosive chemicals (none of which are particularly child friendly!) so drawings/illustrations seem a good place to begin right now.

I'm not intending to start my business immediately - there are too many things going on this year for that to be a realistic goal (and maintain sanity!) - but I want to start putting in some serious thinking and planning now so that I'm ready to hit the ground running when the time is right (next year is the plan).

The notes below are a starting point, by no means exhaustive, I expect and intend to add to them...

So. What are my goals for staring a business?

  • self fulfillment
  • a creative outlet
  • an income stream
  • independence 
  • altruism - I want to create a business which helps others through its work (supporting social enterprise) and through company donations to worthy causes: cancer research/maggies/target ovarian/breakthrough breast cancer, alzheimers research and support, every mother counts, SANDS, trees for cities.
  • interesting work
  • create or become involved in a supportive community (work colleagues, customers, collaborators...)
  • What is unique about my idea?

    Good question. The short answer is: me. The things I want to do in the first instance (stationery, prints, jewellery...) are not unique but my drawings, but virtue of being my own, are. I don't have the interest or, frankly, skills to copy anyone else; though I am no doubt influenced by many - my work always comes out looking like mine whether I want it to or not! That said, I have to give some thought to how to differentiate myself and my work more clearly.

    My longer term goal - to open a loveliness shop/tea room/community craft space - is something that does not currently exist locally, and is not widely available even in the hip heart of London that was home until 2 years ago. But that dream will take more time and much more money than I can commit at the moment. Baby steps.

    I think there is probably an in-between goal too, to take on commissions, freelance work and collaborations. Hopefully these would be a mixture of fun and exciting, an opportunity to learn and grow, build profile and/or simply pay some bills! Freelance work could involve other, more established, skills (writing, the web - closer to my day job).

    What are my strengths and weaknesses?

    STRENGTHS

  • creativity and ideas
  • enthusiasm
  • determination and drive (when focussed)
  • necessity. I need something to get my teeth into. Desperately.
  • WEAKNESSES

  • confidence
  • financial controls
  • focus
  • time
  • haste (I need to spend a lot more time planning and polishing my work)
  • implementation (not knowing where/how to start - Rabbit In The Headlights syndrome)
  • various practical skills
  • industry know how.
  • OPPORTUNITIES

  • My town has a growing creative community but presently there are relatively few outlets for them, though this is starting to change. Markets and one off events are becoming more prevalent. Shops are slowly cropping up.
  • online selling
  • blogging to raise profile and build contacts/a community
  • established businesses in London and elsewhere in the south east as potential initial outlets.
  • THREATS

  • being lost in the crowd. Small stationery/illustration lines are numerous. Few are successful. Jewellery is expensive and time consuming to produce.
  • Not having enough time
  • Simply never getting started
  • money management.
  • Industry knowledge - finding reliable production partners (longer term).
  • What are my long term goals?

  • Be financially independent and able to support my family
  • be debt free (including mortgage)
  • do good work. In all senses.
  • Love my work.
  • create and pursue opportunuties to develop, freelance, collaborate...
  • Open a bricks and mortar shop featuring my work and that of others. A mix of designer makers, small businesses and design classics. Affordable, beautiful, useful things. Incorporate a space for people to sit a while, enjoy a drink and some cake or a sandwich. Host craft events/evenings where people can get around a table, share a glass, make, chat and have fun. Hose kids craft afternoons where children can do the same.
  • have a small but lovely chain of such stores.
  • Is this financially/practically viable?

    The shop is not a realistic short term goal but a small scale online/third party/craft event stationery etc business could be. I have a small amount of jewellery inventory from an earlier plan to launch a business (derailed by a bereavement closely followed by a major work project and then pregnancy).

    I could also start to build up a network of potential tutors and approach local venues (there are a few craft-friendly bars/cafes/pubs) to investigate the possiblity of hosting an event.

    Potential pitfalls.

  • I want/need time for my family - I can't/don't want to be out of the house seven days a week.
  • I want/need to be there for my son when he gets home from nursery/school, at least until he reaches 14.
  • I need time to exercise, maintain a home, maintain my relationship, maintain personal project, see friends, be...
  • I am not great with money.
  • I am more of a planner than a do-er.
  • I need to develop skills in implementation and focus (too many ideas can lead to a scattergun approach - a lot of mess, not much progress!).
  • The weighting of + to - is a bit wonky. This is why I need plenty of prep time!

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