I have written so many articles about starting a business, striking off in new directions, etc., etc. that I can’t believe I failed to mention one of the most basic rules of them all when it comes to starting your own craft business.
Lower your cost of living to the point where you can pay for rent and food doing odd jobs or nothing at all for the
next yearforseeable future.
If you live in a comfortable suburban house and you have bailed out or were thrown from the corporate mothership, don’t expect that you are going to develop a craft business in less than six months and a decent customer base in less than a year.
During that time you will be laying out money for equipment and training and you will still have to pay the mortgage and all the other expenses for your lovely home. You will burn through your 401K and any savings faster than you can believe.
This also applies if you are setting up any kind of business that requires significant startup expense. You need to completely restructure your living arrangements so that your cost of living can be covered during the startup period and for some time beyond.
This calls for a great deal of resolve and understanding by all members of the family. Life is not going to continue in the same old way.
Sell the Land Rover and the McMansion outside Metropolis and look for an old farm with outbuildings that don’t leak too badly that you can buy for cash or on terms that give you a mortgage payment of a few hundred dollars a month. Buy a used van or pickup truck and a used car for cash.
Put enough money away to live on for six months and rethink your identity. You are starting over and you are no longer a senior manager or VP of anything. You need to get busy and learn your new trade in a big hurry. Take classes at a good craft school. Learn the ropes by working as an apprentice if you can. If your significant other is not engaged in learning a craft, she or he should find work that provides enough income that your bank balance does not dwindle.
Make everyone part of the new solution. Ideally, your new venture should provide work for all members of the family, but if the teenagers aren’t interested in your craft venture, they need to find employment and an educational path that fits your new circumstances.
You don’t have to follow this advice of course, because you can always choose to find another corporate berth instead of risking everything on your own business acumen. However, you will probably have to sell the house and the Land Rover anyway if you are over fifty because it may take you a year to find a new job and it will pay less than your last job.
This may sound unduly grim, but it has been done by thousands of people and they have emerged from the experience stronger and more self reliant than ever before. The freedom that comes from managing your own destiny more than makes up for the temporary hardships of starting your own craft business.
Find any successful craftsperson or artist and ask how they lived until they became successful and you will hear a story much like I have described here.
Talk to artists and craftspeople who quit after a short, unsuccessful attempt at starting a career in the arts and you will find that they ran out of money before they could become self-supporting. You will also find that their lifestyle had a lot of creature comforts that did nothing to advance their careers.
Whether this change in life is a forced decision or a free choice, changing your lifestyle and cutting your costs to the bone will give you the best chance of a successful transition.
If you have gotten this far, it has probably occurred to you that this same advice applies if you are embarking on a career as a writer or a musician. Your lifestyle has to be leaner and meaner than you ever imagined if you are to succeed.
Wishing you the very best…