The one thing that I've found is the most important thing to purchase in order to put your business ahead and stay ahead is so stupidly simply it might make you frustrated.
Yes, time. That's it. No hokey spiel about buying webinars and patterns and a recipe for success. Literally, if you are just starting out trying to make it full time as a fursuit maker, Time is the key asset you are going to need to succeed.
Now, what do I mean by this exactly? We all have time. And if you're one of the unfortunates this year thanks to COVID, you may have an unhealthy amount of it laying around.
Time is what's needed for marketing strategies to work. Time is what you need to build a social media following, complete orders, and build a client base. Time is your safety net when you're just starting out and aren't sure whether this will be a good fit for you, or if you should just go groveling back to your 9-5 retail job because this is just WAY too scary!
Time is to be cultivated and invested in. When you have a choice between a new shiny thing for the shop and time, PICK TIME, every single day.
In my years using Etsy, it's become an adage as old as time itself. Wondering if paying for ads is something you absolutely have to do, and then when you finally take the plunge and pay for them, wondering if they're even making any difference.
And Etsy ads is a mystery I have yet to solve, but I do know this much. To be able to weather the storm, you have to have supplies stocked up and a safe place to hole up. Time allows us as business owners to ride out slow months, or in our case, a global pandemic.
A prime example is how I operate my own business. I strictly adhere to rules that prioritize time over possessions. I incentivize my customers to pay in full for their fursuits, which still hasn't quite caught on in the industry since there is so much distrust running rampant. Who's to say I won't run off and spend that money before I've earned it? Easy. Because I prioritize time over possessions.
I pay my bills months in advance. I have several savings accounts. I portion out bulk payments to my credit cards (of which I have few and use very sparingly) to keep debt low. If I ever need to issue a refund, I can pull from that bill advance money and not be in financial jeapoardy.
So technically, it's a win-win for me and the customer. I feel like I've already been paid, because I 'bought' myself time in terms of paying ahead on bills and having a financial cushion. And my customers can rest easy knowing I will not technically be 'paid' until their order has been shipped in the form of time, i.e. paid bills and 'time' to get more orders in without worrying about putting food on the table and paying my mortgage/rent/car payments.
When you're considering doing fursuit making full time, you need to try and prioritize time. If you have a sizable financial buffer in place before you quit that retail job, you have that money in 'time' to start building your empire.
One doesn't become TikTok famous overnight. It takes months and months, sometimes years of producing content tirelessly to make any traction. I know, I'm in the thick of trying to do the very same balancing act. Although I may be rich in terms of time to develop new products and grow, I barely have 5 seconds during the day to slap something onto all my social media.
I'm working on it.
If it hadn't been for my time forward approach to my finances and business, COVID would have thrown me for an absolute loop, and I may have had to do just that and run begging to my old retail job. Thankfully, I'm a paranoid old biddy who decided to squirrel away enough 'time' to see me through the rest of 2020. And in this instance, my paranoia paid off.
So next time you get a commission payment in, or sell off a partial and you have studio aspirations, and wanting to be the next "More For Your Money" think about this. Think about how much more important it is to buy yourself time to grow and accomplish your goals than an object you can't make much use out of in a world without conventions.
Now is the perfect time to buy time, and use it to catapult yourself to the front of the line when things settle down and cons return.
You might be thinking "Why are you telling me this? Why do you want me to know this stuff?"
Because, I got to where I am today through nothing but stubborn-headed hard work and determination. No one told me any of this. No one taught me how to do my job. And so I think it's about time I give back and be that for those of you out there who don't have any help. I don't want to hold anyone back from achieving what I have achieved. I want all of you up here with me!
I hope that helped some of you. Take of it what you will, but just remember...
Time really is money.