Beading Business Practices:

Keep Track of Your Time and Materials

Good beading business practices are not really different from any other business, and keeping track of time and costs is important. Having an easy way to keep track of the time I spent on a project, and on the various aspects of a complex project, has been really useful to me. My first try at this was a little business card size form I created and printed on some yellow business card stock I had left over from another project. The form had space for a short materials list of 5 items, with space for a vendor's code or a brief description, the source, amount used, and cost. Below that materials list was room to show the date, the total hours, and a description of the finished work.

This was pretty useful when I was making earrings or simple spiral ropes and helped me remember how long it took to make the item as well as the specific materials used, so I could at least come close to creating a reasonable facsimile of the project if I wanted to. I also knew that if it took me x hours to make a 20" spiral rope with these sorts of beads, I could predict with some accuracy how long it would take to make a 32" rope.

Handy as the card size was, it was just too small, even when I put more information on the back of the card.

So I graduated to a larger format. I printed these on card stock, 4 cards to a page. They gave me more apace for documenting my work process, plus space on the other side for a list of materials, plus information on the disposition of the item.
Here is the first of several pages on the making of the beaded goblet that you can see on the How to Learn Beading page. You can see how I have used the card to keep track of my time in the early stages of working on my first piece of sculptural beadwork. This information came in very handy when I wanted to do a similar goblet later. I knew that I had spent a bunch of time of things that didn't work, and this gave me the chance to better estimate how much time I would need to make a second goblet, now that I was smarter about processes that work.

So don't be afraid to document your wrong turns, crazy experiments, etc. All that fooling around and messing up is part of your beading business. I encourage you to write it all down!

If you want to get a look at both sides of the form I use to track my beading business time and materials, click here to open or download it as a PDF document. Feel free to use it for your own work if it is useful to you.

I find that when I do not bother to keep this kind of record, I wish that I had. When I keep only a partial record, I wish I had more. For example, when I embroidered two still life pictures and mounted them on small metal boxes, I kept track of the materials I used, but did not record the hours on the other side of the card. Now I wish I had that information.

Keep records. It is a good business practice, even if you are only beading as a hobby. So keep records. You will be glad you did!

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