Building a Handmade Business with Limited Time

by small business expert Donna Maria Coles Johnson

This week’s advice is for all of you amazing creative entrepreneurs seeking to launch a business with very limited time on your hands.


Running a Business with Little Time. Read about this topic at


The Arts Business Institute sent me an inquiry from a jewelry maker who cares for a disabled adult. We’ll call her Diana. Diana wants to launch a jewelry business, but because of her obligations, she knows she will have a very small window of time to devote to it.

While I have never been in this situation before, I started my business when my children were infants and toddlers. I know what it’s like to lead a business while also caring for people who cannot care for themselves. Based on my experience, I have six bits of advice for Diana.

1. Hire someone to help you care for your loved one.

After the birth of my first child, I labored for about six months before I hired someone to help me take care of her so I could focus significant amounts of time on my business. My helpers came to my home, so I was available to my daughter if needed, but I could enjoy long blocks of times to focus on making my business a success. You will need this as well.

This is my first piece of advice before I even get to business issues.

If your loved one is not taken care of, you will not be able to focus on your business enough to make it a success. If you are the only person caring for someone needing 24/7 care, you will not be able to focus on your business enough to make it a success.

Even if help is available only a few days a week, it will free your mind to focus solely on your business for hours at a time. You will absolutely need to do this in order to make your business work.

2. Only make the products with the highest profit margin.

Because you have so little time to work on your business, including making the jewelry you want to sell, it will be critical to focus on making the products that make you the most money. Narrow your product line down to those with the most profit built in, make only those products, and charge the highest amount that the market will bear. Make your line high end and exclusive so you can make a profit even though you are not investing as much time as you otherwise would in your business.

3. Aim your products at people with significant disposable income.

This is always a good idea, but it’s even more critical when you have no time to waste. Price your products as high as you can. Make only products that make you the most money. Target people who are ready, willing, and able to buy.

4. Become “the” go-to jeweler in your particular niche.

Don’t just launch another jewelry company. Again, this is good advice for any business, but if you have limited time, you’ll want to be THE person people want to buy from in your target niche.

Consider Kendra Bryant of Kendra Renee Jewelry in California. Kendra makes lovely jewelry of all kinds, but her focus is on custom wedding bands. Not only does she design and make the rings, but she also offers an opportunity for the engaged couple to come to the studio and help cast their own wedding bands.

Kendra sells more than wedding bands. She is offering an experience that people cannot get elsewhere. Her pricing reflects this experience, and allows her to make the most money in the least amount of time, crafting custom work for specific people.

5. Work in pre-scheduled time blocks.

Make sure that every day is planned in advance, and that each hour devoted to your business has a specific purpose. Make your schedule as predictable as possible, reserving the things that need your most undivided attention for the times when someone else is tending to your loved one.

Use a planner (I use a Franklin Covey planner) or Google Calendar (if you’re more of a tech geek) to block out chunks of time for specific tasks: social media, making jewelry, placing sales calls, updating your website, bookkeeping, taking product photos, etc.

6. Take time for yourself.

Studies show that people who care for others for significant amounts of time often neglect caring for themselves. When you simultaneously care for a loved one full-time and manage a business, you may be even more likely to forget to care for yourself.

Diana, I don’t know all of the details of your situation, so I’m sure my suggestions do not embrace everything you must consider.

I do not want to sugar coat anything here. Managing a profitable artisan business is extremely challenging, and will require every single second of your time you can get your hands on, and even more than that.

Any time and energy invested in advance to find someone to help take care of your loved one will be time well spent. If you cannot get any help at the moment, I strongly suggest you consider deferring a business launch until you can do so. In the meantime, you can stick your toe in by making jewelry as a hobby while testing and learning the market before you go whole hog.

I hope these tips are helpful, and that you will find a way to create your business. I look forward to hearing all about it, and to having an opportunity to purchase some of your jewelry!


Donna Maria Coles Johnson is an author, small business personality, and award-winning home-based business advocate. She is also the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, a trade organization providing mentoring and coaching services, and affordable product liability insurance, to makers and creative entrepreneurs across North America. Donna Maria has hosted the Indie Business Podcast since 2005. She blogs at the Indie Business Blog, and she is @IndieBusiness on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

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