That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles??

Shelley and I believe so strongly in our mantra of “no starving artists” that we take it literally when we speak publicly. We feed our audience cookies!

When we started down this path, we spoke with our good friend, Flo – an exceptional baker and home-chef.  She offered to create a prototype cookie for us that would not only taste great but could also operate as an edible business card.

After lots of experimentation, Flo shared her product with us.  We were thrilled with the taste and the look. These cookies screamed the professionalism we were after.

The next step was to figure out the cost to S2 Seminars for all this yummy goodness.  Flo agreed to let us walk her through our maker pricing process to arrive at what she should charge per cookie.

Here are the steps we used for Flo and the cookies.

Step One:  Figure out the material costs to produce a batch of cookies. 

How much were the ingredients and the packaging to produce a dozen final-product cookies?  Taking into account the cookie and icing ingredients, the plastic sleeves and the ribbon, and any spoilage, Flo used her receipts to calculate that 12 finished-product-worthy cookies could be produced for around $9.

Note 1: Flo defined spoilage as cookies where the royal icing surface was not level or flat, the edges were too brown, the bottoms too dark, the icing letters smudged, etc.  She felt roughly 9 in every 12 cookies she produced were acceptable to represent S2. This meant each batch had to contain a minimum of 16 cookies to make sure she got a full dozen of her final product.

Note 2: For those with an accounting bend reading this blog, please know we purposefully kept this story simple. If Flo were going to make and bake full time, then we would definitely need to expand our pricing process to include sunk and operating costs and possibly some amortization too.

Step Two: Figure out the cost of labour required to bake, ice and package a batch of cookies. 

Including shopping and cooking time, Flo estimated the labour was around two hours per dozen worthy cookies.  She did feel her labour estimate would become lower over time once she developed a production system  but for now, this was the number.

In Alberta where we live, minimum wage was $13.60 when she was producing the cookies.  Multiplying two hours times $13.60 gave us $27.20 for the cost of labour.

Step Three:  Figure out the price to charge per cookie.

Now we knew the ingredient and packaging costs and the labour costs.  It was time to do some more math and figure out the price per individual cookie.

Herein lay the crux of the problem.  S2 Seminars had a budget of $1.50 a cookie.  $3.02 per cookie was more than double!  To get the price per cookie to meet our budget, it meant the material costs, labour costs or both needed to shrink.

Flo looked at her material costs and decided that, with our mutual eye to a quality product, there was not much that could be done to get the cost lower.  Next, she determined that meeting the goal of $1.50 per cookie would mean she’d only be able to charge $4.50 per hour until her systems were in place.  This put a lot of pressure on those systems to become ultra efficient so her labour rate could reach the minimum wage per hour target. Her chances of success were extremely low.

We then came to the mutual conclusion.  Although we all loved the finished product, it was cost prohibitive for either of us to pursue further.  We sure had fun finishing up the prototype cookies though!

If you’re a maker and struggling with setting your price, write us and we’ll write back.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

 

Hug a Woman Today Because…

… it’s International Women’s Day. On second thought, maybe only hug the ones in your family. The rest might get you into trouble! But do consider doing something special to mark this day and show your support for the women in your life and around the world.

Not sure what the International Women’s Day or IWD is all about?  Here are some fast facts:

  •  IWD celebrates women’s achievements worldwide and has since March 8, 1911.
  • International Women’s Day is also known as United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
  • Some countries like Armenia, Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine declare IWD a public holiday where businesses, educational institutions and government offices close.
  • Many countries mark the day by marching to support women’s rights, inviting people to speak publicly on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and holding more events throughout the year to contribute to the theme of the year.  You can find events near you for 2018 on the IWD site.

There are 5 actions you can take to support this year’s IWD theme – #PressforProgress. You can even register your intent on the IWD website to keep yourself accountable.

  1. Maintain a gender parity mindset
  2. Challenge stereotypes and bias
  3. Forge positive visibility of women
  4. Influence others’ beliefs / actions
  5. Celebrate women’s achievements

Want to learn more?  Visit the International Women’s Day official site to see how you can think, act and be gender inclusive.

Gentlemen – thinking you should have your own day?  Good news – there is one!  It’s called International Men’s Day and is held November 19 each year.  Check it out to see how you can contribute to your gender community.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Grow Exponentially – use both sides of your brain!, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

What to do when Oprah calls…

Breathe! Remember we all put our pants on one leg at a time – even the rich, successful and famous! Then say, “Hello.” Maybe follow it up with, “How are you today?” Whatever you do, don’t drop the phone or go running up to the first person you see screaming, “Oprah’s on the phone!!”

Seriously though, how often do you meet someone you feel is better than you – whether it’s true or not. Maybe it’s because of their financial status, brain power, natural raw talent, or some other “trait” you’ve convinced yourself makes them superior to you. We are all comprised of flesh, bone and water – roughly 60% water actually! Some of us just use our grey matter a little differently and others are simply born into money.

Our overall sense of self-worth or personal value is called our self-esteem. It’s healthy to have confidence in our own worth and abilities. But what do we do when those feelings of worthiness and contribution are low?

What You Can Do to Bolster Your Self-Esteem NOW

1. Surround yourself with people who love you.

Stop spending time with people who treat you badly. Reconnect with those who believe in you and like you (love you is even better). These people are pre-wired to help you feel better about yourself and want to see you succeed.

2. Remove negative self-talk from your vocabulary.

Why do we set the bar higher for ourselves then we would for other people, then kill ourselves trying to jump over that bar? It’s time to start believing “good enough” really is good enough and quit beating ourselves up when things aren’t perfect. Done well and with the right heart beats done to perfection every time.

3. Stop comparing yourself to others.

People don’t always tell the truth, especially on social media. On the surface, it may look like they’re doing better than you are when in reality, you are doing just as well or better! Author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz in his 2017 book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are says:

“In the Facebook world, the average adult seems to be happily married, vacationing in the Caribbean, and perusing The Atlantic. In the real world, a lot of people are angry, on supermarket checkout lines, peeking at the National Inquirer, ignoring the phone calls from their spouse, whom they haven’t slept with in years.”

4. Find something you like doing and do more of it.

Maybe it’s playing or creating music, painting, sculpting, writing, spending time with your children, … whatever! Just do more of it so you can remind yourself you don’t have to be an expert at something to have fun. And fun is good for your mental health!

5. Get support if things become too much.

Many major centres have free or next-to-free programs for people to help re-establish healthy self esteem. In Toronto for example, the Health and Wellness Centre at the University of Toronto offers counselling services for low self-esteem. The Calgary Counselling Centre in Calgary has an action-oriented program to help you “create a positive, stronger sense of self and make healthier choices.” If you’re nervous about that big a step, make an appointment with your family doctor and start there. The secret is to just start doing something to make your life better.

 

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, contact us today.

 

Happy Inspire Your Heart with Art Day!

January 31st is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day, a day to ruminate on how art touches your heart.

Art is many things – it can be a great piece of music performed at the right volume for maximum enjoyment, a painting worth more than a thousand words, prose that moves you to tears or laughter, or maybe even something as simple as a perfectly poured cup of brew with good company to enjoy it.

Do something today that reminds you why you love having art in your life then share it at #InspireYourHeartWithArtDay or leave us a comment below.

Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer
www.S2Seminars.ca

S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills, is a partnership between Shelley Goldbeck and Susan Cramer. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget.

3 Things You Can Do NOW to Make Your 2018 Resolutions Come True

Resolutions aren’t wishes. They’re commitments you choose to act on… or not.

2018 is almost here. If you’re like 41% of Americans, you’re probably already thinking about how you’ll commit to the changes you’d like to see in your life next year. Unfortunately, only 9.2% of you will feel you’re successful in accomplishing those resolutions by the end of the year. These stats were collected and published in January 2017 by Statistics Brain Research Institute, a group of people passionate about numbers. More importantly, they say:

People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.

That’s all well and good, but how do you move from wanting a change to stating a resolution then making it come true?

There are three things you can do today to get going.

  1. Shout it from the rooftops! The more people you tell, the more people there are to help keep you accountable for what you’re trying to accomplish.  Just make sure you don’t accidentally commit to more resolutions than you can possibly fulfill in one year.
  2. Write it down. As simple as this sounds, it works — commitment is reinforced when you involve more of your senses. Writing is both physical (touch) and visual (sight). Read what you’ve written aloud when you’re done, and you add two more senses (sound and hearing), strengthening that commitment even further.
  3. Get help. When you don’t know how to proceed, getting help is one way to fast-track the endless hours you’ll spend searching and attempting to teach yourself the answers on the internet. It’s a wondrous place but it can also burn through your days with ease.

Make 2018 the year your resolutions come true!

Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion, especially if this has worked for you in past too.


Susan Cramer is a partner in S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills. To learn more about running your small business, attend our workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget. 

Does Sending Christmas Cards to Customers Really Work?

Yes, it does… but the rewards (aka bookings and sales!) only come when you do it right.

Why bother?

Repeat business comes faster when you have relationships with your customers. One of the easiest ways to reinforce or renew relationships is by doing something personal that shows you care about them. Sending a personalized seasonal greeting can do just that. My husband has sent an annual holiday card to his 360+ customers for more than 10 years now. We track how much business results from that effort. Because he’s a renovator and his projects differ in size, the numbers vary but it’s usually 10-20 customers in the $10,000-$60,000 range. Not a bad return for a day of effort and a few hundred dollars.

Who do you send them to?

Ideally, send them to everyone who has ever been a customer. When your customer list is too large and this is unrealistic, then subset your list to just those you feel have the potential to do business with you again or can refer you to a new customer.

Electronic, hand deliver, or traditional mail?

Hand delivery can be very effective. It allows you to guarantee your message is received (you’re face to face with your customer after all!) The size of your customer list, the type of business you are in, and how much time you have will dictate if this option is feasible for you or not. My personal favourite is traditional mail. It’s so rare these days to receive a piece of mail that isn’t a bill to pay or advertising to recycle. Sending a card this way is sure to make you stand out when it’s done right.  Electronic is definitely quick and fast but chances are it’s also the easiest to overlook, delete or ignore.  It can also lack that personal touch that shows you spent time thinking  about this person – especially when it’s a mass email, post, tweet, or other message that the receiver knows went to a pile of people at the same time.

What do you say?

Start by hand signing the card. Having your printer do it takes away from the personal touch we’re after here. (It’s okay to use your computer to help print the envelope labels though.) Add a one-page letter describing something of interest to your customer. For example:

  • Major accomplishments over the last year (wrote  book, cut a new CD, created 3 new works of art – make sure you include a description of where they can buy this new item)
  • New things you tried last year that worked well (changed mediums from canvas to clay, adapted my novel to a screenplay)
  • Trend’s your seeing in your field – especially ones that will result in revenue for you (decreased size of for-business books to 3-4 hour reads, more artists moving to self-sale of their products and services via the Internet)
  • Introduce new people to your team or give a quick update on those already supporting you (“I hired a bookkeeper this past year so I can focus more on my craft.  His name is John Smith and I’m so glad he’s now part of my team.”)
  • What you have planned for the coming year – try to tie it back into the trends you said were coming in the New Year (“I am embracing the trend to sell more of my own art.  Watch for the next release of my website in March-April where you’ll be able to buy my art online at your convenience 24×7, 365 days a year.”)
  • End your letter with an ask to help you find more customers – the worst they can do is ignore your ask!  Let them know you’ve included a business card for them to share with people they know who might be interested in you.  Also include a link for where you want people to contact you online.

Before you seal the envelope, don’t forget to include the business card to go along with your ask!

When do you send them?

Right now!  We’re just a week and a bit away from Christmas.  If you want the card in the hand of your customer before the big day, you’re almost out of time.  For next year, we recommend sending the cards in the first week of December close to the 1st of the month.  This will give your customer time to not only recommend you but also buy something as a gift for someone else they know.

Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion, especially if this has worked for you in past too.


Susan Cramer is a partner in S2 Seminars, Eradicating Poverty in Artists by Teaching Business Skills. To learn more about running your small business, attend our next workshop, 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoe-String Budget

Registration is Open!

Registration for 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget on February 13, 2018 is officially live.  If you’ve been waiting to register, now is the time to act while early bird pricing is still in effect.

We had lots of fun (seriously!) using a tool called Ticketor to provide the online registration.  It was relatively easy to set up although it did take a little longer to do than advertised.  The biggest challenge was rewriting some of the “fine print” content they provided with the default site.  Ticketor wrote it as though their site is the only one S2 Seminars has, which is not our case.  On the upside, their videos, FAQs, emails and chat support service were really helpful.

Long story short, it’s now possible to register 24×7 using a credit card.

If you’ve been wondering what to get the artist in your life for Christmas, maybe this is it.  As any thriving artist will tell you, there’s nothing like the gift of independence that comes from controlling how, when,  where and for how much your art is sold.

 

Professional Photo Shoots Don’t Have to be Scary… Really!

I’ve hired photographers in the past for traditional family portraits. You know — the ones where you can turn sideways and hide behind other family members so not all of you is seen.

My business partner and good friend, Shelley and I decided we needed pro shots for ourselves and the launch of our new venture, S2 Seminars.  As an ex-model, she knew what it was all about.  Until yesterday though, I had never experienced a professional photo shoot where me, and only me, is the centre of attention.  To tell the truth, I was terrified to do it because I have self-image issues.

Well, after working with Trevor Carter at D’Angelo Photography, I can now say with authority that it’s not scary when you have the right photographer!  Here’s a recap of our experience and the process we went through.

  1. We asked people we trusted and whose professional photos we admired to recommend a photographer they had worked with who was talented and fit our budget.  Thank you Russ Dantu for recommending Trevor Carter!
  2. Next came the meet and greet with Trevor to make sure we were comfortable with him  and his work and to select the location for our shoot.  Big checkmark on Trevor’s abilities and our comfort level.  We decided to shoot i260n his studio to help save ourselves some money.
  3. Shelley and I met to make some wardrobe selections, determine any clothing shortfalls, and decide what poses and props we wanted in our photos.  The latter topic included thinking about where we wanted to use our photos going forward (e.g., blog posts, banner images on our website, posters, business cards, etc.).  There was only one tiny fail here, but that was quickly resolved with a trip to Las Vegas and the outlet mall to buy some new clothes for Susan.  (She was headed there anyway so no blowing the budget with this shopping location choice!)
  4. We arrived at Trevor’s studio — D’Angelo Photography — at 1:30 in the afternoon, a little nervous but excited at the same time.  Trevor put some music on to help get us pumped up, we changed into our first outfits and the photography magic began.  It wasn’t long until he had us laughing and feeling like naturals.  Before we knew it, we’d had all our wardrobe changes, used all our props, and run through our list of poses and a few more Trevor added for us.
  5. Less than 6 hours later, Trever had the proofs in our inboxes and the real fun began.  Trying to choose just a handful of the great shots he took!

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And that’s all there was to it!

We’ve included a few of our favourite shots in this post.  If you’re ever in need of a professional photographer for whatever reason, Shelley and I highly recommend Trevor Carter at D’Angelo Photography.

And, if you’re stuck trying to figure out which poses, what to wear, where to shoot, or anything else pro shot related, give us a call.  We can help.