May 31, 2011

There's a goal in the bucket dear Liza.

Now that I'm not feeding a baby every 45 minutes, and I'm not up half the night (only a quarter of it) it's time to get serious about my business, and there's nothing more serious than a list.  Unless it's a funny list, although even then it can be seriously funny. To make my serious lists businessy, I'm going to make them about business goals.  The first list is about the goals I've achieved so far this year, and the second list (which I will post tomorrow or the next day) will be about the goals I'm going to try to reach in the second half of the year.  Ready, set, GO(al).

Achievement number one this year, I got business cards printed.  FINALLY.  It was getting pretty unprofessional to potential clients who would be all "oh cool you have a business.  Do you have a card?" and I would be all "no."  Thanks to my rad spouse who designed them for me, I now have a sweet piece of card I can hand out to the many people who ask for them.

The second goal I've accomplished this year was that I hassled my spouse to get an electrician over to install a new outlet so I could have my conveyor dryer on site.  Not having to drive across town to cure my shirts has really increased my productivity!  It also forced me to clean up and rearrange my studio *again*, but it's so functional now and easy to move around in.  I can actually sew and draw and do a jig in there if I want.

The third goal I've accomplished (maybe it's actually the first, since Sebastien really did the first 2) is that I got equipment to do large prints.  It was a bit of a learning curve at first, and I discovered that I either have to stand on a platform or wear platform high heeled shoes to be able to reach the bottom of the screen.  Unfortunately I don't have a platform, so I've been sporting some pretty fancy shoes with my jogging pants at 10:00 a.m. while printing.

These are some pretty sweet things that have happened this year, but I have a LOT left to do.  Some of it is gonna be fun, some of it is NOT gonna be fun.  Stay tuned for part 2 of serious business lists: future goals.

May 27, 2011

Always leave room for error. ALWAYS.

I'm a reasonably time efficient person.  Over the years I've learned that there are some things you really shouldn't leave to the last minute.  Start working on school projects a few weeks in advance.  Don't wait until the night before an exam to study for it.  Don't wax your back the day before a big date (in case you get a rash).  You get the idea.  The same goes for my work.  I ask for at least 2 weeks between the time that an order is placed with me (and shirts get ordered THAT day, or first thing in the morning if the order was placed after business hours) and the deadline for the shirts to be finished.  That gives me 2 days to prep my screens and get ready to print before the shirts arrive, and then I have at least 10 days usually to get the shirts printed.  Because I work this way, people almost always get their shirts earlier than expected.  I get it done in case another order comes in.  I like to keep a clear plate, you know?

Now, I understand that not everyone is going to be able to give me 2 weeks notice.  Sometimes there are rush jobs, and that's fine.  This week I had a job like that.  A large order (over 200 shirts) was placed on a Friday and the deadline was the following Thursday, effectively giving me a 3 business day turnover time.  That means the shirts were shipped on Friday, but then didn't move over the weekend, then Monday was a frickin' holiday, so the shirts didn't even arrive until Tuesday.  That is NOT a lot of room for error. Also, Murphy's Law must be obeyed so of course the shipment was wrong.  The wrong amount of the wrong size kid's shirts were sent (luckily the bulk of the order was correct) so I had to return the shirts, and they sent out a new shipment. 

I did get these beauties printed though.  

It's now Friday and my shirts still aren't here.  The deadline has come and gone.  My screen is still up and inked and waiting to go.  Around lunchtime I started to worry, as the last shipment only took 24 hours and was here at 10 in the morning.  When I finally got hold of the supplier for the tracking number, I discovered that some asshole named "C. Cassie" had received and signed for my shirts.  Um, WHAT? 

The event that the shirts are for is OVER on Sunday, so there is no more time to ship me new shirts, since it's already Friday.  Plus, some jackass is enjoying 24 kid's shirts on my tab.  C.Cassie better watch their self.  They'll get more than a back-waxing if I ever get hold of them.  The worst part is that this all looks really bad on me, though I did warn the client that I couldn't guarantee his shirts on such short notice.  This is why I have my 2 week turnover time.  It allows me to make a promise to my client, and to keep that promise.  I've never not come through in time, and whether it is or isn't my fault (for the record it's isn't) the fact remains that my client didn't get what they wanted.  I cannot convey my disappointment and aggravation at this fact.  Why did C.Cassie sign for a package that was not intended for C.Cassie?  Can I sue C.Cassie for taking my mail?  That's a crime, right?  Arrgh.

I haven't really got a closing solution or gem of wisdom to end this post.  I will say this though, always give yourself enough time to do a job twice, in case you screw it the first time.  I will also say that C.Cassie is in for a world of pain, providing I ever find out who it is....

May 19, 2011

It's a Mom-lemma.

The slow moving change of my life is about to get another jolt, and I am nervous.  I've been a work at home mom since my baby was 6 weeks old, but up until now I've had my spouse home to share the domestic and child care duties.  This allowed me to get lots of work done during the day and not have to worry if my 6 month old was upstairs lighting fires or eating paint.  However, as of June 6th, the man is going back to work and the woman (me, I'm a woman) is staying home to hold down the fort, mind the youngster, AND run a business.

I thought I was going to have it made when my neighbour, a stay at home dad who has a child the same age as mine, suggested we team up.  I was all "shit yea, son, let's do it up", until I  heard what he had in mind for the division of labour.  He would be "taking care" of all the hanging out, sleeping in, and playing video games, while I took over all the mom duties. Needless to say, I think I can manage without the "help".

I think what's going to happen is that I'll be doing a lot of evening and weekend work, while taking care of Mimi during the day.  Sure I can do the odd thing like invoicing, ordering stock and supplies, printing transparencies etc. while Myriam is chilling next to me.  But the more time sensitive tasks (like exposing and coating screens) or the tasks that require a substantial chunk of time (printing 300 shirts, for example) can not be done while tending to a small child.  

Even a baby this cute throws fits and needs her mom sometimes.

A friend of mine is a graphic designer with 2 kids, and she has someone come to her home to babysit the youngest while the oldest is in daycare.  That way she can be productive for 2 or 3 hours during the day and not have to scamper away to work the second her husband gets home. I'd love to do the same, but other than my sister in law  (who may or may not have the time to come) I don't really know anybody who can help out! 

I've got a mom-lemma...or I'm a dilem-mom...or I make really terrible jokes.  At least I've got a hierarchy of stuff in my life which removes the burden of choice. I can't choose between making a deadline or taking care of my baby. Even when she has boogs in her nose and inflicts grievous bodily harm (her nails are sharp!) she's still going to be more important than my work.  Alternatively, my work is going to take precedence over my sleep, but sleep is usually more important than eating, or at least eating healthy.  Seriously, when you're up early every morning, what would you rather do at night when you finish work:  take an hour to prepare a healthy meal, then have to spend another 20 or 30 minutes eating said meal, or cram some chips in your face and then crawl into bed and pass out?

I guess I'll have to start getting even more creative with my time management.  I just thought of my first time saver!  I'll eat the chips IN bed!  If anyone has any other helpful short cuts like that, do me a solid and send them my way.  I'll be sure to share all mine with you!