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Looking at staring buisness

I am looking at the possiblity of starting a longarm quilting buisness. I was at a Road Show yesterday and love the machines. I called 4 quiltesr in the area and they each have bwteween 2 and 4 mohth waiting list. I still have mor eto contact. In any ones opinion if theses numbers stay the same do you think I could get buisness and make some money doing this? I need to at least pay for the machine if not more.

Thank you,



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If you read through this forum from way back, you'll see there is a lot of time and investment (pantos and/or boards, stencils, thread, rulers, etc.) in starting a quilting business. I am not trying to discourage you in the least but you should know it does take time to get clientel and there is nothing better than word of mouth and that takes practice, practice, practice to get that good recommendation. You'll find some of the best information and support from this group so if you decide to take the plunge, have fun! If it's not fun, you'll burn out quickly trying to support your habbit. I use my quilting to support my fabric addiction ;)

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Please use the resources available to you at your local Small Business Development Center, or SCORE office. They have free or low cost resources, classes, information, etc. to help you the right way. Read all you can on the Internet. Use the Google search engine to find information. The IRS.org web page has EXCELLENT information on small business, including on line video tutorials. Get a couple of books from the library. Use the resources that are available to you and your best resource is your local SBDC or SCORE office. They know all the laws and requirements for your state and best of all, they want to help you succeed. They can help to answer all of your questions you have posted here.

Business 4 U? Weigh out all the options

The IRS has WONDERFUL EXCELLENT advice on starting a small business. Great video clips, too. Definitely check out


I think each situation is different for all of us, and it all depends on where you live, how many longarmers in the area, would your business be viable. The costs for business start up is expensive.

You also have to ask yourself this question: Would I enjoy quilting other people's quilts? I seriously think it takes a certain type of person to enjoy it and be successful at quilting other people's quilts. Even now (when I have the customer quilt from hell full of C & D cups and wonky borders), I still ask myself this question. LOL!

Take for example, me: I have a full time job outside the home. My employer pays me a good salary with benefits so there is absolutely no way I would ever quit my FT job. Regarding the longarm, I had all intentions of buying my Millennium to quilt just for myself and have fun. I had saved $$ for several years to pay for it out right. My DH is the one who said I should start a business to write off the expenses. We had just finished building an addition to our home (a place specifically for the longarm). So, I spoke with our local Small Business Developement Center and also spoke with a CPA and got advice on starting a business and both encouraged me and said why not start a business. It would also help my and DH's deductions on our 28% income tax bracket.

I am able to write off percentage of the electricity and heat, longarm supplies, expenses for business trips to quilt shows where classes were held, depreciate the machine, etc. Of course, starting up costs money and lots of expenses there. You have to weigh it all out. Start out very small and gradually take little incremental steps; Start with just the basics required and go from there. For me where I live there are no state taxes, no sales tax, or no other local taxes for business. I did purchase a business license and obtained a federal tax ID. I added my machine to my home owner's insurance.

I don't advertise as a longarm business. Most of my customers come through word of mouth from my quilt guild, or referrals. Because I have a FT job I don't count on the quilting business to pay my living expenses. If I have 2 or 3 customer quilts a month that is plenty for me. I seem to have a small trickle of quilts coming in; not too many, and not too few. I am happy if the business income can help pay for thread and supplies and have enough customers just to keep Mr. IRS man from questioning the business expense write offs. In 2010 (my third full year in business) I finally showed a profit! :)

Like I said before, weigh it out. Each situation is different for all of us, and it all depends on where you live, how many longarmers in the area, would your business be viable.

I encourage you to speak with your local Small Business Developement Center. It's free. Some have free resources and free courses for business startup. Also speak with a CPA to weigh out your options.

Regarding prices: I stay right in line with what my fellow longarm friends charge for quilting. I don't want to charge less and steal their customers, and I don't want to overcharge, either. I want to be fair for customers, other businesses and myself. I appreciate my fellow longarmers in my area. I consider them my allies, not my competition.

Starting a business? I think considering something this important means you should do research and make an informed decision.

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I've been doing LA quilting for almost 5 years now and have learned quite a bit during that time.

Like you, I had thought that if other professional quilters had long wait times, I could possibly get more work because there would be those that wanted their quilt faster. What I found is that customers are loyal to their quilter (for the most part). If they know their LA quilter and like her work, they are willing to wait to get their quilt done by her rather than take a chance on someone they don't know. It takes a very long time to build up a clientele, and it takes tons of practice to develop your skills to the point that people will feel comfortable letting you go on their quilt top. Be patient.

If you do decide to start a business, do it right. Contact a small business development center in your area or a local procurement technical assistance center. SCORE (sorry don't know what that one stands for -- and I should, I work with them all the time)...anyway, SCORE also has classes on business basics all the time. The fees are very reasonable and they are always available for consultations.

I recommend you do some charity quilts for local quilt stores. This gives the store needed quilting (for free) and gives you practice pieces to work on until you smooth out your technique and build your LA skills. Usually, after you've done several charity quilts for a quilt store, they will allow you to leave your business cards with them. This has worked very well for me.

Consider joining a quilting group -- it can be a quilt guild or just a club that meets at the local quilt store regularly. Get involved and get to know the people there and what they are looking for. They may give you business or they may not, but in any case you've made new friends and have a good sounding board for ideas and troubleshooting. They may even refer you out to others who are looking for quilting services. Make sure you take business cards with you to the meetings, but don't be pushy about handing them out.

Funny side note --- I've been going to my local sewing/quilting club for years now and have picked up a little work from the group, but not much. Then one day (okay over the course of a year) my son started raising chickens. We now have 22 chickens and more eggs than we can shake a stick at. I took a crate full of eggs to my sewing meeting and asked the store owner if I could make an announcement about them during the club meeting. She was excited to announce that I had eggs "for sale". I was just wanting to get rid of them, but okay, I'll sell them. I sold 21 dozen eggs that day and handed out my business card to everyone that bought eggs so they could order more. I have had several women come to my house to pick up eggs and they always stop by my quilting machine and admire the quilt I currently have on the frame and what I'm doing on it. I got two more customers just from trying to offload an excess of farm fresh organic eggs! The point is, you never know when or where opportunities are going to arise, so be prepared for them when they do.

Lastly I'd recommend that you advertise in craigslist (if there is one in your area), local newspapers, etc.

Of course, if you ever have questions, the people on this forum are great about getting answer to you.

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Great story, Lora!

And great advice from all as usual!

My "you never know where your next customer will come from" story is cute as well. I was in the bank drive-through when my favorite teller asked if I had time to step inside the bank.:o The loan officer was looking for someone to rescue two flannel quilts made by her grandmother in the 60's so she could pass them along to family. My teller knew I had "some sort of quilting business" and I left the bank with two quilt tops in a bag!

Angela, the archives under "starting and running" a business is a great resource--better than any of the books out there! Get a cuppa something and go way back to read the best advice we have to offer. This is a great job and can fill so many needs--not just financial.

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