Productive Priorities

March 27, 2009
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We are now three months into 2009. The major wholesale events have occurred, and new work cycles and ideas for how we might structure our year have started. We now have some indication about how the economics of our pottery making endeavors might play out for the rest of the year.

As I have written in previous posts, this year will be pivotal for many in our field. Our survival as ceramic artists and potters is linked directly to the disposable income of others. It is not only important to those who purchase our work, whether they are stores, galleries or individuals, but also to us as creators of the items that they will purchase. Let’s look at some things to think about as we organize our priorities for the months to come.

1. Maximize your time and efforts in the studio to be as productive as possible.

2. Determine which objects produce the most net profit for you and decide how to continue to sell them to your existing accounts as well as to new ones.

3. Give yourself the time and space to create new work that you can show your buyers. Prepare the necessary visual materials to promote your new work as well as your existing items.

4. Look at your use of clay and glaze materials in the studio and see how you can control any excessive waste. Develop even better efforts to reuse/recycle.

5. Examine your cash flow and identify any areas that are wasteful and non-productive. If possible, take this money and move it into your savings vehicles. Use your cash wisely. Do not abuse your credit. Avoid credit card cash advances. Do without rather than over-leveraging yourself.

6. Look at your travel and show schedule and eliminate those venues that are the least productive and incur large blocks of time away from the studio.

7. Maintain your equipment with a logical and scheduled program to avoid downtime.

8. Monitor your supply inventory so that you do not run out of important items and are forced to incur priority shipping or freight charges.

9. Concentrate on working mean and lean.

10. Work smart.

(And yes, there are certainly many more that you could add to this list.)

Our lives are only as complicated as we make them. We all have family or other obligations outside of our lives within the studio. Keeping a balanced life devoid of stress is now even more important as financial pressures mount.

Remember that you are a professional in every facet of your business life, but always maintain compassion, caring and sensitivity for those whose relationships you treasure. Ultimately, it is precisely those people in your life that are your support system. Keep working and making beautiful ceramic objects, but never lose sight of that most important priority.

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