March '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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1 8 P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 2 0 1 8 P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 2 0 EMBROIDERY Stitch Solutions J e n n i f e r C o x W e spend a lot of time on strategic planning for embroidery and apparel decoration business owners all year long. Being the kind of person that I am, I'm going to dive into the most avoided place first: the numbers! Earlier in the year, the first quarter, is an excellent time to dig into your numbers so that you can see where you've been and develop a plan to take your business where you want it to go. MAKE LOOKING AT YOUR NUMBERS SO MUCH EASIER One of the most confusing things for business owners creating a strategic business plan is understanding how to evaluate numbers from the previous year. If you are like most embroidery and apparel decoration professionals, you've been avoiding or ignoring your numbers for a long time. Each year you start fresh, somehow hoping and believing that your revenue will increase, that by trying to work harder, to be more disciplined, that you can make the numbers at the bottom line grow. But it doesn't seem to work so well. And you don't know why or what to do about it to get different results. So, let's stop doing that and in- stead start looking at your numbers (deep breath here). First, it is time to let go of your inner critic and stop placing blame. Just let go of beating yourself up about what you could have done, should have done, or should have known. Ultimately, entrepreneur- ship is one big learning experience. And one of the key learned skills is getting better at forgiving yourself. There will always be things you don't know or should have done better. That is true in all aspects of life! The secret to your success is not about how much you did right or wrong, but how willing you are to see the lessons and incorporate them into your business. OK? OK! Let's get into the numbers. REVENUE Look at your revenue over the past one to three years. Is it up? Is it down? Then, determine the reason why it is up or down. Don't make up a story about this or try to guess. One measurable way to do this is to look at each month individually, comparing that month to the same month of the previous year or years. If the revenue number is different, see if you can recall or determine the reason why exactly. Did someone pay more? Was there an event? A new client? Don't guess; be a sleuth here and look into it. What was on your calendar that month? What was going on in the business? EXPENSES Look at your expenses from the past one to three years and do the same analysis here. Is it up or down? Look at the monthly layout of your expenses and see if you can determine what caused any increases or decreases. See if you can find the increases or decreases in expenses exactly. Enlist help from your bookkeeper or from whomever helps you with your business financials if necessary. Next, look at your expenses by category. Are there any expenses that you can cut for the next year? Are there any areas in which it would support your profitability to stick to a budget? Do you have enough inventory, threads, and backings to hold you for a while? Do you need to bud- get to replace a computer soon? What expenses will increase for the coming year? If you plan to increase revenue, expect to in- crease expenses, as well. Project what you think these increases might be. It's OK if you don't have exact numbers as this is just a way of getting you to think, plan, and budget for these changes. REVENUE GOAL Set your revenue goal for the current year. Write it down and post it where you can see it daily. • Strategy 1: You can create a projection by simply taking the previous year's revenue and increasing it by a certain percentage. It could be conservative, like 10%, more aggressive such as 20%, or even higher. • Strategy 2: You can look specifically Get Comfortable with Your Numbers

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