One of my most frequently asked questions is: “How do you decide on what to charge for custom painted furniture for clients?” I no longer paint pieces for clients because I simply don’t have time. But, I have been down that road before and I remember scratching my head wondering what the heck to charge for a service like that? I wasn’t a “furniture painting contractor” more of an artist who I felt clients were paying for my design aesthetic. Today I am going to share my super secret formula I use to quote custom painted furniture prices to clients. I never got a gasp. You know the one. It costs how much? Let me break it down for you.
Photo Source: Apartment Therapy
First there are many things to consider when deciding on what you will charge for custom painting a piece of furniture for a client.
Will you purchase the paint or will they?
Who will deliver the piece of furniture? You or them?
Will you be storing the furniture for any amount of time?
Does the piece have lots of shelving and nooks and crannies or is it mostly flat surfaces?
Are they wanting any special designs?
How are your painting skills? Do you have a long waiting list of clients or are you just starting out?
Once you have considered all of those things you need to give the customer the quote in writing.
Here is where my handy dandy Work Order comes in.
You have to break the cost down for your customer. The above work order was for a small end table/cabinet. At the time of this work order I charged $35.00/hr for custom furniture painting, so $165.00 does seem high at first glance. But when you cut the fee down into bite-sized pieces then you (and your client) can understand how you got to that figure.
It makes a lot more sense than just blurting out $165.00 and then reading their reaction to see if they write you a check or pass out from the cost.
A written work order also helps with communication on turn around time, expectations, color selection, or anything else you want to throw in there. That way, if a concern arises you can refer back to this form.
I have made a printable version for you to print out, customize with your logo and add whatever line items you wish. Just click on the link and tweak until your hearts content!
I chose to keep this free printable a Word Document and not a PDF so you can customize it and make it your own. But please do not duplicate, sell, or post this on your own blog without my permission.
I hope this gives you confidence in quoting customs! There is a real need for artists like you and I admire you for it! Happy Painting!
Well, it’s 12/12/12! We are continuing our Q&A of all things furniture, painting, and business with the topic how to get your business off and running. From a seedling idea in your head to a full-on Oak Tree that has taken over your yard.
And take over it will, because if you are not careful a business can be 24/7. (Can you tell I need some Q&A advice on balance right now? My son is watching Toy Story 2 for the mazillionth time so I can write this post.)
Here are some of the questions that led me to this tackle this topic:
Lori S. said: “Any tips for how to craft a mission statement?”
Jan S. asked “What’s your best advice/practices for record keeping for tax time?”
Shirley C. asked “ How do I go about writing a business plan?”
Darla asked “I am not a business person. Where do I even start?!”
Well ladies! Dun-dun-dun-dun!
Here are my Top 10 Tips on Starting a New Business to the rescue!
1. Hire an Accountant
In my opinion this should be FIRST on your list! All states have different tax laws and business filing systems. Your accountant can point you in the right direction and tell you what paperwork you need to file. Most of it you can file yourself, so ask them for the instructions and websites on how to tackle this. My accountant knows I am a DIYer and so instead of charging me to file all of the paperwork she just tells me what websites to go to, what to file, and points me in the right direction. So how do you find the right Accountant? Ask friends, family members, or other business people you know and respect. Nothing is better than a personal referral. That is how I found mine. I love her and have referred her tons of clients. She rocks.
#2 & #3. Pick Your Business Name & Make Sure the Domain Name is Available
Do some brainstorming before you commit to a business name. Make sure it feels “right”. It’s sort of like trying on a wedding dress. You just know it’s THE ONE when you say it out loud. But before you fall in love with a business name make sure the domain name is available. I have a friend who owned her furniture painting business for years and is just now getting a website. Guess what? The domain name is not available and she may have to change her business name to accommodate her new website. That change will probably be confusing to her customers. So even if you decide not to launch a website, at least make sure the domain name is available and purchase it. It’s only a $10.00/yr investment but it’s insurance that it will be available when you need it.
I purchased my domain name thru Go Daddy and the search for availability of a domain names is right on the front page. Bonus! If you use the Referral Code: WOWrefunk you get 20% off your order! So it’s actually only $8.00/yr to reserve your domain! Suhweet!
Tip: You can also buy other products such as an email account (like mine is email@example.com) and that was purchased from Go Daddy too. But only if you want to get really fancy schmancy. A simple Gmail account will suffice if you don’t want to splurge on that.
4. Obtain a Federal Tax Identification Number (EIN)
Ask your accountant about this, of course, but most likely you will need one. It’s like a social security number for your business. You can go to irs.gov and click I Need To Apply for an EIN and it takes you straight to the form. You can print off your new EIN instantly! Wah-lah! You are now in business! Congrats!
5. Register Your Business Name with the State
You will need to register your name within the state or county you reside. This is again another convo you should have with your Tax Man. There are many options when it comes to filing a business name. You can be a Sole Proprietor, S-Corporation, C-Corporation, or a Limited Liability Company (also known as an LLC.). Your tax professional can tell you which is the best fit for your tax situation. I personally have an S-Corp and my name is Refunk My Junk, Inc. I filed it myself on the Secretary of State of Oklahoma’s website. I have helped businesses from Louisiana , Texas, and other states, so I can say that this process can vary greatly from state-to-state. There is a small cost ($25-$50) to file it as well. Bottom line, refer to step #1: Get a good Accountant! They will point you in the right direction here.
6. Open a Business Checking Account & A PayPal Account
(oh, and A Square Account, too.)
Make sure you call your Bank beforehand and ask what documentation you need to bring in to open said Business Checking Account. You will probably need all of the above paperwork, but each bank’s policies vary. I also do a lot of business through PayPal and it’s pretty universal when it comes to payments. I use a Square Card Reader for in-person credit card transactions, like at craft shows or events. It plugs right into your iPhone, iPad, or Android and you swipe and sign! I love Square because there is no contract, monthly fee, and it’s a flat 2.75% per transaction fee. Coming from banking I can tell you, this a great deal, and sometimes deciphering a credit card processing contract can be like learning a new language. Square is simple and works for me. And, people tend to spend more when they use a credit card. I never carry cash, so if someone doesn’t accept my debit card, then they usually don’t get my business. You lose out on sales when you don’t take credit cards. In my retail locations and online I would say 85% of my customers use a credit card or debit card.
7. Accounting Software
The main and only reason I chose to Incorporate Refunk My Junk was because I could “write-off” the expenses I was incurring. This was also a way to justify to my husband the time I was spending on my hobby. Boy, did I not know what was ahead for me…
Anyway, if you want to stay organized with all of that money you will be bringing in (and spending) then you need some sort of software to sort through all of those transactions, place them into categories, and figure out where your money is going. There are many options when it comes to Accounting Software. I personally use Quickbooks Online. I like it because QuickBooks Software can be expensive and I just pay a monthly flat fee of $25.00/month to Quickbooks Online. It also grabs the information from my bank accounts and any credit cards I use and uploads it each day for me. Easy!
I’m sure you can see this coming: Please refer to step #1 and ask your Accountant for their opinion!
8. It’s LOGO Time!
Create a logo that says what your brand is about. You can create one yourself using simple (and free) photo editing software like PicMonkey or you can pay someone to do it for you. I found someone on Etsy to design mine. It cost me $50.00 and I am lucky I found someone who understood what I needed and was able to translate what I wanted into my logo. (She no longer works on logos, otherwise I would give you her name, but she would probably drive from Texas to kill me if I did.)
Put some thought into this process. It is something you will have to look at everyday and you want your customers to recognize you by. Make it something you love! And you can always tweak or change it as times goes by.
9. Get Some Marketing Materials
Business Cards, Full Color Take-Ones (which I did at first, but I now just send a document to the printer and have them print them off in black and white because I give out about 500/month and those take-ones can get expensive), some thank you cards – I get mine from the $1 bin at Michael’s but you can get something custom if you want. Make sure you have business cards in your purse at all times. I have given mine at my pediatrician’s office, the bank, a restaurant, and NO I am not an obnoxious salesy type person, I swear! The subject just somehow always comes up and I am always ready to hand over a card!
I order my business cards from Zazzle. They have tons of cute premade layouts or you can design one yourself. When my Mom first saw my business cards she cried. I am not sure is she was proud or if she was scared I was going to quit my fancy day-job. Whatever the reason, it was so cute, plus she never cries.
10. A Little Bit About Missions Statements & Formal Business Plans.
I don’t really believe in either one. I think they are too restrictive. What if you stray off plan? What if you do something that doesn’t fit into the box of your mission statement? I was an SBA (Small Business Administration) lender and sometimes we required our customers to write business plans. Guess what? There was about 2 pages out of the 65 pages that had crucial information that I needed for my loan write-up. That is a lot of time wasted writing something that you really don’t need.
I would recommend that you set goals for yourself and your business. Write them down. Tuck them in your nightstand. Think about them. (You can see my goals for 2012 here.) When you commit to your goals in writing you are far more likely to achieve them rather than just allowing them to swim around in your brain. Here is a good blog post about goal writing. Geez, my goals seem so loserish compared to this guys! Oh, well. Baby steps, right?
If you own a business, what were some of your important first steps?
Or, if you are thinking about starting a bizzie (that’s rap-style slang for business… Just trying to seem young and hip while talking about business!) what scares you the most about moving forward with your idea?
Tomorrow I am headed to a local camera shop to purchase a new camera for Christmas! I have been using a regular ol’ point & shoot so this is a big step for me! Can’t wait to share what I buy and how I plan on learning to take it off of manual and use it! Plus, I have already been browsing Etsy for cute camera straps!
About a month ago I wrote a post letting you guys know that I am opening up the floodgates and cracking open my brain for a Q & A Edition of Refunk My Junk.
Let me just say you all have some doozies for me!
I received countless emails and comments asking about starting a business. How to actually move forward with turning your passion into something you can make money at. Today we are going to touch on some of my personal business philosophies. I would like to think I am pretty darn business savvy after having a career in Commercial Banking for 10 years. I am by no means the utmost expert in the area, but I am going to just tell you my basic mentality on starting your business. We will get to the more technical questions (paperwork, IRS, business plans, etc.) in a later post.
First of all, let me just say that if you are wanting to “get rich quick” this is NOT the business you want to start. My mantra that I have repeated to myself in my head a million times is “slow and steady wins the race”. There are lots of people out there that want to start repainting furniture and make a business out of it. Just look at your local Craigslist or do a quick search on Etsy for the keywords “painted furniture” and see what competition is out there. I can only speak for my market, but I feel like every one and their mother wants to start a business like this.
Here is what I think has made ME different than all of those people. And how I think you can be different too. This mindset can apply to any business you are wanting to start, not just furniture painting. So feel free to read along even if you want to start another type of business.
#1. It’s my passion.
I did not care if I made money in the beginning. I loved it and I did this for free for 2 years before I ever paid myself a dime. That is how I knew it was my passion.
As as side note: I am not saying you should work for free. All I am saying is that if you can work all day, not eat, pee, take a break, wake up at 5:30am not cussing about having to work, because you love what you do, well, then you know you are pursuing your passion. It doesn’t feel like work.
#2. I Want To Help Others
There are two types of people in this field. There are the ones who cross their arms and frown when you ask them a question about how they painted a piece of furniture. And then there are the ones who open their arms, give you a hug, and say “here are some tips about how to get this look”.
#2.5 No One Can Take Your Talent
(an extension of #2)
No matter how much information you divulge, if you give someone step-by-step instructions on how to paint something, no two pieces of furniture will turn out exactly the same if they are painted by two different people. No one is going to paint something exactly like you. And if they are wanting to do it themselves, well, are they ever really going to be your customer anyway? Be as helpful as you can, but you don’t have to give away every detail either. Best practices are a great way to network with others in your field. I would much rather be an ally to someone than a competitor. But you also don’t go to your local bakery and ask them for the recipe, and then go behind the counter to watch them bake a cake, do you? If you have questions about someone else’s work, be mindful of how you ask. If someone is pushy or rude then I don’t answer their questions. Period.
#3 Be Original
Use your talent to the best of your ability but don’t copy someone else’s exact look or try to get information out of someone just so you can turn around and use it to your benefit or pass it off as your own. Imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, but when you run a creative business it can really hurt your reputation by blatantly copying someone else’s work. I look at Pinterest as much as the next person, but make your business YOU. Be authentic and people will want to see you succeed. Look at Refunk My Junk for example. I think that there are plenty of painters who are much more talented than I am. But, I differentiate myself by being true to my personality on my blog, in social media, in my painted furniture pieces, and I really strive to be authentic to what feels right to me. It’s so much easier than trying to be someone I am not. If it doesn’t feel right in my gut, then I don’t do it.
#4 Remember, Not Everyone Will Last the Test of Time
I know I will be here next year, but your competitor, who might just be trying to make a quick buck, may quit after turning a few pieces or get discouraged easily. Are you going to have a mentality of tenacity or an attitude of short-term results? When I start doubting myself I just remember that I will show up even when I feel defeated. Will you?
#5 Don’t Compare Your Beginning with Someone Else’s Middle
Quit comparing yourself to others. If you are, then it’s easy to fall into the illness of self-loathing I refer to as the compare-myself-out-of-business-itis.
I catch myself doing this which results in the side effects of: not feeling worthy, good enough, not as talented, and the like. I have been known to Unfollow Pages on Facebook, not because I didn’t like them, but because I felt like I was constantly comparing myself to their business or talent level. I just try to keep my head down, help my customers, do my own thang, and keep a positive attitude.
I would HIGHLY recommend reading Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job by Jon Acuff.
I recommend this book to people all the time. It really helped me focus on pushing forward to making my business work. READ IT!
So, that’s my basic business mentality in a nutshell. Was it helpful? What words of wisdom do you have for pursuing your passion?
In our next Q&A we will be tackling questions about writing a business plan, record keeping for tax purposes, and marketing your new business. Some of the not-so-fun and some of the social media aspect of getting your baby bird business off the the ground and flying. We also have pricing pieces, how to sell items on Cragislist, how to price customs works, and many other topics up our sleeve.
Don’t forget we are running a Workshop Gift Certificate Giveaway until Friday! Click Here to Enter!
Do you like my fancy new header for this series? It makes me feel like this is a worthwhile post if I slap a legitimate header on there. So it’s more for me than for you, m’kay? I don’t know if ya’ll even care about what I am reading, and isn’t this supposed to be a DIY/Furniture Painting/Small Business/and what-the-heck-is-Allison-getting-herself-to-now type of blog? Well, chances are if you are reading this little piece of the Internet then you enjoy crafting, painting, trashy reality TV, drinking wine, or running a small business. So maybe my little book recommendations will give you some nugget of information you will find handy. Now, let me get off of my soap box and let’s get to the book review already!
This week I am reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau.
This book is a must read if you are thinking about starting a business. I have people ask me business questions all the time, and the truth is that very little of running a business can be taught. It is chalk full of interviews from real-life business owner who had to meet one of the following requirements:
1.Make at least $50,000 per year from their business.
2.Started the business on a very low budget. (The average cost of initial investment for entrepreneurs included in the book is $610, with a median cost of $125.)
3.Willing to cough up financial data and demographics.
It really focuses on following your passion and making money doing so. And it has also reminded me I am not selling just paints or painted furniture. I am really selling inspiration. Inspirations to renovate your home or transform how you tackle your projects. What an awesome job is that?!
I am only half-way through The $100 Startup, so I can’t give you a full review, but reading the book feels more like having coffee with a friend talking all business-like instead of reading a dorky self-help business book.
Oh, and can ya’ll believe July is over? Have you tackled the books on your summer reading list? What do you recommend I read next?
It’s time to spill the beans on what has been going on in my life… I keep trying to write this post but I just haven’t been able to. Why? I don’t know? Maybe because I want to seem strong. Sure. Confident. But the truth is, just like everyone else, my mind is filled with second-guessing, doubt, and sleepless nights worrying.
Let me give you a little background on how I started Refunk My Junk, just in case you are new here…
I started this little business as a hobby. I had sold some painted pieces for a few years on Craigslist and in February 2010 I decided to incorporate Refunk My Junk, Inc. and take a baby step in seeing what this little hobby of mine could really do. I had so many reasons not to do it. I had a 7 month old baby, a full-time job as a Vice President at a corporate bank, and a husband, who although is the most supportive and patient man I have ever met, he deserved my time and attention too. But God has placed this desire in my heart and there was no denying it anymore.
I loved painting furniture but my passion was helping people with their own furniture painting projects so I started a blog to compliment what I was already doing . I wanted to share my struggles as a working mom, business owner, and show how and where I find my pieces of furniture and give tips on how to transform your own. So I started posting. And then the crickets started. No one. No comments. Nothing. But I kept at it.
In May of 2010 (only 1 year ago!) I opened my first booth in a multi-vendor market. It was a new market and the owner offered me free rent for 6-months. I felt that God was giving me NO excuses not to move forward.
Here is a picture of my first booth. A little sparse, but I felt proud nonetheless! My first check that month was $74.00. I felt discouraged but I just kept on thinking… Baby steps, baby steps…
I also decided to start offering latex painting workshops at the same time, and I just about peed my pants when the first person signed up! I was thinking “what if no 0ne comes?” “what if people don’t like my techniques?” “what have I gotten myself into?” . But that first class filled up. There we were, in a warehouse, teaching others how to create gorgeous furniture and helping them learn from all of the mistakes and money I had wasted trying to refinish my own furniture.
Here is a pic from our first workshop!
So the months went on and my furniture painting checks got bigger, my workshops always sold out, and my blog traffic grew a little bit each month.
Then 2012 came and I knew I had to make some big changes if I wanted my baby business to become bigger. I moved my retail space, opened a second location, and was offered the opportunity to become a retailer for CeCe Caldwell’s Paints. I also relocated my workshops to The Edmond Fine Arts Institute, a more art-centric location. I was also asked to do a few segments on our local FOX news station, which was totally out of my comfort zone, but it ended up being really fun and easy!
But with this crazy growth also comes sacrifice. My travel schedule for the bank picked up and I was out of town a lot. I started working 24/7, either on Bank related projects or Refunk My Junk related projects. I still enjoyed my career and I had worked on building it for 14 years… But I have started to have no life, my friends wonder what the heck was happening to me, and I also felt like I was leading a double life.
I would wake up early, do my FOX 25 segment, and then shower, put my suit on, and show up at the office with a smile on my face. It just didn’t seem like that suit was “me” anymore.
I knew something had to give in my life, but what? I can’t shut my business down… I can’t give up my career, my salary, my expense account, and this identity that I had made for myself. So I did what I always do when I am overwhelmed. I cried. A lot. And then I cried some more. Some people release stress in different ways. I cry.
So what is the next chapter is this story? I am going to continue Part 2 of this post on Wednesday. I hate super long blog posts! I get bored halfway through… So I will spare you the boredom, give you a little break, and finish up the post on Wednesday. Do you see a nervous breakdown in my near future?
(You can catch the second part of this post here!)
But now, down to business… I forgot to announce the Junk Hippy Roadshow tickets giveaway winner! (See… That’s how crazytown my life is right now! I can’t even draw a darn name in a timely manner!)
Sarah Sweeney is the winner! Congrats! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your tickets! Can’t wait to see you all at Junk Hippy!
When I started my business one of the skills I had the most difficulty tackling was negotiating prices on junk I wanted to buy. From garage sales, antique stores, thrift stores, flea markets, craigslist, and auctions – the techniques on negotiating a lower price than what is marked can vary.