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Another post today asked about time management for a quilting business. Here are a few things that work for me.


*Schedule the quilts. Don't have 15 quilts sitting in your studio with a vague notion of how long it'll take to stitch through them. Do a rough estimate of how long it may take to finish each one. Figure how many hours a week or month you have to seriously dedicate to standing at the machine. Be realistic. Did I mention you should be realistic? Then when you take in the next one you can let your customer know it'll be "the middle of June" when you might have the quilt back to her. Be realistic. Is there an echo in here? :P


*Control intake and pick-up times. Quilters love to talk quilts. And quilting. And how much a longarm costs. And may be interested in the other tops you have in-house. If you can keep intake and pick-up at under 20 minutes, you're a genius! A half hour is standard for me if I'm careful. Sometimes I lose control completely and will have a customer use up an hour with chit-chat---all very pleasant and sometimes you crave talking with a kindred spirit. But that's time you haven't charged for. The cost of that time will be built into your business. Try to keep it short, fact-filled, and pleasant. But you ultimately control it. (I've instructed my DH on the occasions of customers who I know want to spend a long time with me, to visit after an hour and "remind" me that I have a meeting to go to in a few minutes. Sneaky but not unethical--and it's effective. ;))


*Charge for your work. And your education. And your machine. And thread. And your brain. And your tools and toys. All that you have and use are assets of your business. Charge accordingly. 


*Feel good about yourself. Take classes. Hang those ribbons in the studio. Say thank you graciously when you're complimented. Bask in the glory when a customer is overjoyed with her quilt. Hug them if they'll let you. These are the intangibles of the business and can make all the difference when you're down or have had a difficult time with a quilt.


*Take time for the other things you love. Your family and friends, travel, your own quilts, charity work, gardening, holidays, whatever makes you smile. Balance it. 


* When you're over-booked and over-burdened, learn from that and make some changes. If you need to push back some quilting jobs, call your customers and let them know. No excuses, just the facts. Most will be very understanding. If some are not, give them a gracious "out" by offering their quilt top back so they can make other arrangements. I've had to do this once and not one customer took back her quilt! I love my customers!


An understanding and proud family plus happy customers are what make this job the one I love. Good luck with your business!


I'm sure others will contribute some great tips here as well!





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Linda I wrote a reply to the original post and have now just read yours.


I didn't mention balance in my post, but it was how I balance my house, family, quilting, teaching and guild responsibilities.


All life needs a balance.. My saying for this year is  "if it's to be...it is up to me"  so I am also balancing my health and fitness more this year.

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I have found that in addition to Linda's wonderful tips

NOT working on Sundays makes my full time sewing Mon to Fri much more productive. I know some of you work at other jobs during the week and you probably love to sew all weekend. Balance is the key.

The other tip I have is knowing when to take a break. If I say to myself Oh well that mistake is not too bad, more than 3 times in 15 minutes, I need a break! Even better to take a break before the mistakes!

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Well said, everyone!  I have known a quilter or two, who have rented a spare room in a quilt shop for their machine and business.  It's great because you pick up a lot of customers from the shop classes, but you can have all day interruptions.  I told them when they complained, 1) curtain on the window, 2) white board with a "be back at" clock with hands on the door.  It's always, "I just have a quick question."  I told her to write, "Quick questions will be answered between (pick a time, set it on the clock)."  They'll eventually learn to respect your time.  It did work, eventually!

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