Business Resolutions

A few months ago, we got a call from a business magazine reporter asking about jewelry designers who went out of business.

It was an interesting question. Why would a jewelry designer go out of business? In some cases, family or medical crises necessitated the move. In others, the designers hadn’t gone out of business but had decided to drop their wholesale lines and sell exclusively retail. But there were others who, for neither of these reasons, were no longer part of the jewelry scene. Nothing was “wrong” with their work—they produced attractive, creative, salable, high-quality pieces, so one could only deduce that they weren’t good businesspeople.

In a creative field where most companies are small entrepreneurial businesses, it’s common to see owners get passionate about the product but leave the business part of the business as an afterthought.

How many times have you heard a couple in the industry say, “He’s the creative one, and she’s the business brains” or vice versa? It’s a common partnership in the design and manufacturing sectors of the industry, as well as the retail sector. Those jewelers are the lucky ones, because being a great merchant—brilliant at buying, selling, displaying—doesn’t bring success if you don’t know how to run a business.

Business pundits have observed that we’re all so busy working in our businesses that we don’t have any time to work on them. So now that it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions, make this one and stick to it: Draw up a business plan and keep track of it on a regular basis. Even if you don’t make it to the middle of January before giving in to your carb cravings, don’t give in to the temptation to postpone your business planning to “someday when I have the time.”

JCK can help you stick to your resolution. In this issue, we present the second installment of David Nygaard’s business matrix series—the five-part business planning model he unveiled at last year’s JCK Show ~ Orlando—and introduce a brand-new column by noted business guru Steve LeFever. His lectures (and those of his partner Steve Hegg) are always filled to capacity and beyond in Las Vegas. LeFever this month begins with a simple lesson in how to assess your financial situation, and in future columns he’ll teach you how to use the information effectively.

Each of these columnists has a special advantage. LeFever’s perspective as an objective observer of the industry means he isn’t tradition-bound, and he can identify good ideas that have been implemented successfully in other small businesses. Nygaard’s perspective is that of a peer: He’s a successful retail jeweler who recently added another store, so his ideas have been tried, tested, and proven to work in a jewelry store.

On a separate note, here’s a bit of curious lore: Did you know that the first intercollegiate football game, between Princeton and Rutgers, was held in November 1869—the same year JCK was founded? And Walter Camp, the Yale coach considered to be the “father of football,” was actually a coach only in his free time. His full-time job was as an executive at the New Haven Clock Company, and it was Camp who introduced the use of a clock to the game of football. But even today, there’s still no clock that can calculate why it takes 20 minutes of real time to play two minutes of football.

hschupak@reedbusiness.com