Quilting for others … what should you know?

August 6, 2013

Even if you bought your new longarm machine with the sole intention of tackling the mountain of unquilted tops in your own closet only, chances are that you’ve already been approached by someone who has discovered your secret—you own a longarm! It pays to consider what you would do if asked to quilt for others, if for no other reason than to establish a “value” for your time that you can choose to donate or give away.

But if starting a business is one of your long-term goals, here are a few tips to get you started down the right path:

  • Visit the Small Business Administration’s website for valuable information about everything from creating a business plan to evaluating your personality traits to see if you would make a good business owner.
  • Evaluate your time management skills. Plan for an efficient by flexible work schedule, and be realistic with yourself. Can you see yourself quilting 8 hours a day, or are you only willing to work part time?
  • Prepare a proper work space for your business needs. You will need a space to prepare quilts, cut batting, press backing, and even do billing.
  • Consider a second phone line for your business so that you can separate your personal life from your professional life. Make sure your voicemail message is friendly, clear, and informative about how and when you can be reached.
  • If quilting is your hobby and you are moving it to business status, be sure to build in time for your own projects as well as those you do for others.
  • Be sure to visit with an accountant about what records you must maintain. Visit with your local officials to see if any special permits are required or if restrictions exist for home-based businesses. Contact your state’s Department of Revenue and Finance to discover what sales or use taxes you must collect and remit.
  • Create a workable financial management system to help you stay on track with billing, inventory, and customers. The Machine Quilter’s Business Manager is one product that is very helpful for longarm business owners. Other software such as Quickbooks or Quicken can also help you track your finances, though you will have to create your own system within the programs.
  • Treat your quilting activities like a business as you transition from hobby to professional. This will help you handle the requests from friends and family members who ask for “favors” of free quilting. Set an annual budget for the services that your quilting business can “donate” toward free or reduced-fee quilting requests, and stick to it.