Successful jewelry entrepreneurs

The Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) Ed Balian, Ph.D., who’s on the faculty of GIA’s new business school, educated jewelers on Wednesday afternoon on how to be successful entrepreneurs.

Among Balian’s tips: While there are many pros and cons to being your own boss, be wary of blind love for the product. He also advised jewelers to be on their toes when considering how to deal with competition from the Wal-Marts of the world concerned as well as from the dot-com sector, which has grown stronger in recent years.

On the topic of cash flow, Balian had several suggestions for attendees. Understand that when borrowing from relatives for startups, family members often have unrealistic expectations. Plus, they typically “want to control your business,” he said.

Balian had another unusual thought: send flowers to your bankers. The gesture will be unexpected, and “it’ll get a banker to listen to you,” he noted. Balian also advised jewelers to have a strong marketing plan. “It’s the cornerstone of your business plan,” he said.

Some warning signs of when not to launch or expand stores include putting emotion ahead of logic and having a weak—or worse, no—business plan, said Balian. For more information on GIA’s new business school, stop by booth 12027.