In my first business know-how blog post this question was not directly asked, but now I am going to ask it:

Who are you? And how do your personal skills, knowledge, business acumen, and personality suit being a jewelry designer, stone setter, bench jeweler, subcontractor, etc.?

Take a good, long, honest look at yourself and decide if you are cut out for starting a business and what skills could use improvement. Here are a few things to consider:

We All Need Somebody to Lean On


Moonstone ring by Conni Mainne, photo by Ralph Gabriner.

Inevitably you will be working by yourself for much of the time. So, do you require a good amount of socializing or do you prefer the solitude? If you need to be around other people, how can you design your business so that you can work by/for yourself but also have the luxury of interactions? Suggestions: Have plenty of outside activities that include socializing with other people. Look for a work space/bench that is shared with a group of other jewelers or artists. Bring your pet into work (of course, if you own a pet, it’s probably already sitting at your feet).

What’s Your Motivation?

Are you self-motivated? If you aren’t willing to put in long hours, or work without someone looking over your shoulder, then you might find it difficult to run your own business. When you are working for yourself, there’s no one to tell you to work, quit playing computer games, stop procrastinating, or finish the piece you started. Running your own business is hard work, and the key to success is not luck but putting in the hours and tackling the difficult work. All of it. Not just the fun parts. And in case you haven’t already noticed, when you have your own business you put in longer hours. . .but the rewards are worth it!

Full-Time or Part-Time?

Is your business going to be part-time or full-time? This question will be decided by the amount of time you have to work, the money you have to invest, the money you need to generate, and your product or skill. Of course, many people start out creating a part-time business and it grows naturally into a full-time venture. This is often a safe route to go. Getting a feel for what the market is like and how you will fit is often wise before taking the full-time leap.

Is Everybody On Board?

If you start your own business, who are the people in your life who will be directly impacted? How will this impact your children, parents, significant other, friends, colleagues, and extended family? If you are the primary breadwinner in your family, the decision to start your own business impacts every aspect of the lives of those around you. They should be an integral part of the decision on whether to start a business since the consequences will directly affect them.

Take Stock


Handcrafted necklace by jeweler Bree Richey.

What skills do you have to run a business? And which do you lack? If you’re reading this, it’s a given that you love making or working with jewelry, metals, gemstones, pearls, and more. But as a small business owner, you inevitably wear all the entrepreneurial hats. Ask yourself:

  • Do you know the basics of bookkeeping? (And no, you can’t just hire a bookkeeper—it is vitally important for you to have some knowledge of bookkeeping.)
  • Are you computer savvy?
  • What are your skills for working with customers and clients?
  • Do you have the knowledge and skills to talk with potential clients about your product?
  • Are you willing to learn the skills you don’t currently have, or are you willing to make the time to improve those you do?

Play to Your Strengths

Are you detail-oriented or not? From personal experience, I discovered that I am not a detail-oriented person. I studied jewelry in college, but sitting in my jewelry box, I have the most dreadful collection of really sad jewelry you’ve ever seen. Thank goodness for the fact that at an early point in my career, I realized I was more of a “big picture” type gal. I would rather eat dirt than manipulate little tiny bits of metal. So I was fortunate that I partnered up with someone who was passionate about working with little pieces of metal and I could brand our business, plan events, open a gallery, or write a press release.

Once you answer these questions, you should have a pretty good idea of who you are and what you are capable of. One of my favorite quotes is by Stephen King: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Work hard, improve your skills, be willing to learn, and have fun. That is what it is all about.