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.

 

 

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

Why Don’t Artists Make Money?

Vice News produced Why Artists Don’t Make Money in May 2015 as part of their “The Business of Life” series. The panelists in this show share a ton of statistics about the value of creativity to society.  They also explore why we’re in this position today, how we need to rethink monetization of art  and suggest the average artist (not the top 1%) needs to take control of marketing and selling their own art.  Originally published for a US-based audience, it transcends our borders and applies equally as well here in Canada.  It’s also still relevant today.

You can check it out in our For Artists playlist on our BRAND NEW  You Tube channel.  (Yes, we’re pretty excited about having a You Tube channel.  We’ll be publishing more content there over the next few weeks and months.)

At S2 Seminars, we believe choosing a career in art does not require a vow of poverty. Yet we notice our artist friends chronically struggling financially.

The solution seems simple to us because we both have business experience.

But right-brained artists may have had little interest in or opportunity to learn business skills. Sadly, they pay (literally and figuratively) for that inexperience.

If you’d like to make money from your art ask us about  Three Must-Have Tools To Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget.

In this five-hour workshop we lead artists who are neophytes at business through three basic steps so they can begin valuing themselves and their art, and making money immediately. We feed them too!

Starving vs Thriving Artist

I recently read a book titled Real Artists Don’t Starve where best selling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins compares starving and thriving artists.

He defines the principles every Thriving Artist lives by and calls them  the Rules of the New Renaissance.  Here’s a quick recap of his comparison:

  1. The Starving Artist believes you must be born an artist. The Thriving Artist knows you become one.
  2. The Starving Artist strives to be original. The Thriving Artist steals from his influences.
  3. The Starving Artist believes he has enough talent. The Thriving Artist apprentices under a master.
  4. The Starving Artist is stubborn about everything. The Thriving Artist is stubborn on vision but flexible on details.
  5. The Starving Artist waits to be noticed. The Thriving Artist cultivates patrons.
  6. The Starving Artist needs no one. The Thriving Artist finds a scene.
  7. The Starving Artist always works alone. The Thriving Artist collaborates with others.
  8. The Starving Artist does his work in private. The Thriving Artist practices in public.
  9. The Starving Artist works for free. The Thriving Artist always works for something.
  10. The Starving Artist sells out too soon. The Thriving Artist owns as much of his work as possible.
  11. The Starving Artist does one thing. The Thriving Artist does many things.
  12. The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make more art.

Are you starving or thriving?

S Squared Wordmark Green Blue MN

S2 Seminars helps Visual and Performing Artists create thriving businesses.

Our next seminar in Calgary is February 13, 2018.  Join us at 3 Must-Have Tools to Market Yourself on a Shoestring Budget and learn your own thriving techniques for success.

Real Artists Don’t StarveJeff Goins is the bestselling author of five books including Real Artists Don’t Starve and The Art of Work.