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How does your business need to change?

With any life-altering time, our businesses need to change also. We now live in a world of pre-Covid and post-Covid (similar to pre- and post-war). Check out some of the ways your business should consider adjusting (if you haven’t already).

Change in Hours

Have you ever sat in the parking lot of a big box craft or fabric store and watched customers go in during hours you’re closed? If you’re like most business owners, you likely saw a business opportunity.

We get it, it’s impossible to offer as much as those large stores, considering all of their resources. But just because your store hours are convenient to you, doesn’t mean those hours are convenient for your customer base. Consider altering the time your store stays open at half hour increments, and compare your numbers to see if it was the right decision.

Change in Payments

Along with your store hours, you should offer a range of payment forms as well. Yes, you can still accept checks, but you should also upgrade to accepting Apple Pay, too.

Discounts

Whatever model you were using in 2019 really doesn’t apply anymore when it comes to offering clearances. Wholesalers have reduced their schedule to a quarterly schedule due to the product shortage they faced the majority of last year. Consider decreasing the amount of weekly and monthly sales you offer also.

Communication

Since you can’t be open 24/7, look into alternatives to help get you there. Consider adding a chat bot to your website so you can respond to questions at all hours of the day. Or even upgrade your phone service so customers can shoot the store a text with a question they might have.

Inspiration for this post came from “What’s Different?” by Tom Shay published in the June 2021 issue of American Quilt Retailer.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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How to Write a Business Plan

Business plan

Some of you might be old hands at writing a business plan. But to those of you who aren’t, this post is for you!

There are a lot of resources available to help you in this process. Remember the goal of a business plan is to be a roadmap for where you want to go. A great business plan can help you increase capital, hire top talent, and guide your next decision.

Writing your business plan

Your business plan should be a projection of the next 3-5 years, and should be the roadmap to how you plan on growing revenues. Check out the pieces your business plan should contain below.

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Market Analysis
  • Organization & Management
  • Service or Product Line
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Funding Request
  • Financial Projections
  • Appendix

For a description on these and what they include, check out this guide from the Small Business Administration.

Statistics

Still hesitant to get started? According to Quickbooks, businesses with a plan grow 30 percent faster than those without, and owners with plans are twice as likely to grow and get investments and loans.

And before you even begin, be sure you know who your target audience is. That way, you know who you’re speaking to the whole time you’re writing.

Of course, writing a plan is work, and to make your plan stand out, consider ideas for partnerships as you begin your research. Your business plan can be short and to the point, but should show why you care. Be objective, avoid jargon, and don’t be afraid to make changes to your original plan.

Finally, don’t forget to USE IT! Put all that hard work to good use.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Market Research and Competitive Analysis

Market Research

We’re starting a series for anyone interested in starting their own quilt business. In today’s post, we’ll cover the first steps: conducting market research and competitive analysis.

Market Research

The first thing you should do to turn your dream into a reality is conduct market research. If you want your business to succeed, the below are pretty good indicators to start asking:

  • Demand: Does your community want a quilt store?
  • Market: How many people would shop there? (This can help determine the size of your operation.)
  • Economy: What is the income range of the community you will open in?
  • Saturation: How many competitors do you have? And how would your pricing compare to these competitors?

Compare all of these statistics against the information that’s available about quilters. Also check out the Small Business Administration for free services to help with your research.

Competitive Analysis

If in your market research you discover competitors (don’t worry, you will), the next step is to conduct a competitive analysis. This will be key to defining your business’s edge.

A competitive analysis includes determining your strengths and weaknesses, your window of opportunity to enter the market, the importance of your services, and barriers.

The Department of Justice provides a diagram of Porter’s Five Forces that will help you to determine the answers to the above. These include:

  1. Supplier Power
  2. Threat of Substitutes
  3. Degree of Rivalry
  4. Buyer Power
  5. Barriers to Entry

If after you complete this research and determine your business will be likely to succeed, you’re ready for the next step. Stay tuned next week for tips on how to write a business plan.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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Easy Projects for Beginners

Easy Quilt Ideas

With summer in full swing, we thought we’d share some ideas for easy beginner projects for the new quilter in your life! You may find yourself spending more time with grandkids, and if you’re looking for something to do, why not teach them your favorite hobby. (Who knows, it might become theirs as well!) Check out the below ideas for simple ways to begin.

Easy project ideas

  • Pillow: What else is a pillow beside a single quilt block? Show your new quilter some quilt block styles and let them chose their favorite.
  • Baby quilt: The natural next step after making a pillow is to sew a baby blanket. Starting with precuts and patterns with simple piecing is going to be the best bet for a beginner piece.
  • Tote bags: Bags are pretty fun too. The best part is your new sewer will get exposure with different things (handles, curved edges, etc).
  • Large block quilts: Once you’re ready to to enter the big leagues, consider sewing a large block quilt to make their first full-sized piece seem a little more manageable.

How to reach new quilters

Do you have a favorite YouTube channel? Do your customers have a favorite YouTube channel? Help your new quilter learn from a different perspective by checking out what material is available on social media.

Of course, you can’t go wrong with books either. Dig through some of your old copies, or visit your nearest quilt retailer to see what they recommend.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you. And don’t forget, you can always purchase single issues if you prefer that instead.

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AQR Summer Camp: Learn more!

Summer Camp

The 4th of July is just around the corner! Before you take vacation, check out AQR Summer Camp on July 1st from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. CST.

Camp Details

The theme of AQR Summer Camp is “Show Off Your Shop” plus “Let’s Talk Batiks.” Scott Fortunoff of Jaftex Corp will kick off the event with his challenge for quilt shop owners. The challenge will be a great opportunity to develop your video skills while also showing off your store. Who knows, maybe you’ll get some new customers along the way? Winners of the challenge will get a visit from Scott to your store!

Following Scott, Karen Gibbs for the Love of Batiks will teach you how to make your batiks shine. During Karen’s session she’ll cover the whole nine yards, including batik education, purchasing, selling through your current stock, and developing an action plan. Make sure your batiks are selling at the best of their ability and hear how Karen has tackled the post-pandemic batik landscape.

Pricing

Pricing for this camp is $65 for non-subscribers and $35 for subscribers.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Summer 2021 Quilting Trends

Summer trends

Summer is officially here. To celebrate, we’ll be covering some of the hottest trends to keep your new quilters inspired. Did your business see a boom of new quilters this past year? You’re not alone, and you won’t be surprised to discover they aren’t going anywhere!

Picnic blankets – perfect for summer

People are making their own quilt staple these days—the picnic blanket. Try to keep fabrics around that encourage a summer theme (think fruits, the beach, and even astrology are hot topics right now). New quilters love to brag about their DIY projects. Now they can show off their skills over an outdoor lunch.

Framed quilts

Another way new quilters like to show their skills off are with framed quilts or wall hangings. These are more design oriented, with a focus on colors and shapes that bring rooms together. Color contrasts are hot right now (yes, even blacks) and hexagons are a popular modern shape.

Table placement

Functionality is important to new quilters too (hasn’t it always?). Think any sort of table decor including placemats, potato cookers, hot pads, push pins, table runners, etc. They’re great beginner and easy projects that keep quilters coming back for more.

Patchwork

Nothing screams quilter like patchwork patterns. You’ve likely noticed the trend already. Patchwork is appearing on all articles of clothing including jackets, purses, hats, and even socks.

Be sure to make yourself available as a resource to new quilters. Think about your preferred machines, tools, fabrics, and more. As they expand their horizons, they’ll be looking to someone with experience to guide them in the right direction.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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How to get to long-term thinking

Long-term thinking

I have a working theory that people who think about the future more than the past are better at long-term thinking. Time and again businesses that make decisions based on the long-term come out ahead. If you’re like me, you have to retrain your brain in order to see beyond the short-term. Hopefully some of these tips will help.

Think about the long-term

Take time to think about the future. If you don’t know where to begin, work backwards. Where do you want to be? What idea is the easiest (and by easy I mean most effortless) that you can start on to get there?

Any time a new idea comes to mind, write it down. I find a running note on my phone helps to organize ideas I have on-the-go.

Surround yourself with other perspectives

Looking for a get-rich-quick scheme that nobody has ever thought of before? Sure, you and everyone else. A great way to help with long-term thinking is through keeping diverse perspectives. As you know the reality is nobody gets rich fast. By surrounding yourself with diverse ideas the work of groupthink can help create bigger and better plans.

Hire for the long-term

Incentivize your hires for the long-term. Give them options for ownership, and when you hire, hire someone you want to someday call your business partner.

Check in on your goals

Last but not least, check in on your goals. The likelihood that what you want will change is very real. When that happens, be sure to re-organize your short-term goals so they re-align with your final end game.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Cloud Storage: What is it, does my business need it, and more

Cloud storage

Want to know more about cloud storage? Check out this post to find the options available to you.

What is cloud storage?

Firstly, what is it?

According to Wikipedia, cloud storage is “a model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools, said to be on ‘the cloud’. The physical storage spans multiple servers, and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company.”

Secondly, does your company need it? Consider some of the below advantages.

  • Remote work: The past year highlighted the importance of this availability. Cloud storage allows all your employees secure access to company files no matter where they’re working from.
  • Protection: Cloud storage isn’t considered a true back up, but it does a great job protecting your files.
  • Security: Over half of cyber attacks target small businesses. Most storages offer robust security as one way to protect yourself against hackers.
  • Cost effective: Get the ease of paying $5-$15 a month per employee without the hassle of owning and maintaining a server.
  • Productivity: Cloud storage doesn’t shut down. Moreover, that means your employees can work in different time zones without worrying about accessibility.

Cloud Storage Options

Finally, there’s a lot of storage options available to you. Check out some of these suggestions, and after that, read more about them here.

In conclusion, the best option for your business will depend on what you’re looking for.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Branding Ideas

Branding

Keeping up with branding is time consuming, but it can help you to get the work you want. Check out these ideas for a place on where to begin.

Research your favorite brands

Do you subscribe to newsletters that you love? This is a great place to start. Figure out what it is about them that you love and incorporate that into your material. Do they include a list of what they’re reading/watching/listening to right now? Include a section in your newsletter for your customers as well.

Also ask yourself what they do well. Is their information informative? Have good design? Help you find new products? Think about areas you can improve on, and areas you’re skilled at. Then align this list to both sides and see how your online engagement changes.

Look at other businesses’s branding

By other business’s we mean businesses you want to be or businesses want to work with. Check out their social media and replicate what they do with an original idea. By the time you do outreach to them, they’ll look at your work and think the same thing when you visited their page (“Wow! I want to do that!”)

This is also a good time to evaluate if you need to improve on what you know. If you discover you have to brush up on certain areas (video for instance), watch a tutorial or buy a book so you’ll have the knowledge in place when you try to expand your offerings.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.

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Phone Etiquette

Phone Etiquette

Phone etiquette may seem like a no brainer, but it never hurts to have a refresher. Check out these tips to know the do’s and don’ts of a good phone call.

Etiquette 101

I don’t know about you, but I view phone calls as the best way to get answers. Once you know how to do it right, phone calls are quicker than emails (of course it doesn’t hurt to follow up with an email) and not everything requires a Zoom sync.

When you receive a phone call, try your best to pick up by the first three rings and start by introducing yourself. While you’re speaking, remember to talk slowly and clearly. If you think you’re talking too slow, you’re probably speaking at just the right pace.

If you have to transfer the call, ask permission before you do so. Also, if you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest about and tell them how you plan on helping.

Be present

While you’re on the phone, make sure you’re not doing anything else and have no distractions. By distractions I mean close out of Facebook, and even pull up a Word document to make notes while you’re on the call. Only put yourself on speaker if it’s absolutely necessary. Otherwise try to connect a headset or headphones so you can remain hands free throughout the call.

Be sure to sound cheerful throughout the phone call. Try smiling if you’re not in the mood to be on the phone, people can notice the difference. A headset comes in handy here as well if standing up and pacing helps with the tone of your voice.

After the phone call, do your follow up tasks immediately. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be to get them done.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.