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Introducing Make it Work: The Small Business Series

self-made woman

One of my resolutions for this year was to share some of my learnings about starting and running a small business. I am just wrapping up my first year of business at Colette Patterns, or at least of publicly doing business. I’d been scheming and planning for much longer than that.

I get a lot of email and questions on this topic. I realize that there is a wealth of information about starting a business, much of which is written by extremely knowledgeable and experienced entrepreneurs. With just a year under my belt, I do not count myself in that category (yet). But that first year of doing business is quite a ride, so I hope you’ll appreciate the perspective of someone still in that initial, tumultuous stage! It’s rough sometimes, but quite an amazing experience.

In this weekly series, we’ll start by exploring the planning stages. I spent a great deal of time in this stage and while much of this planning is done before you’ve even launched your business, it really sets the foundation and tone for the whole endeavor. It’s something you can return to again and again as you progress.

After that, we’ll take a look at day to day operations and the myriad aspects of maintaining a new business, from marketing to customer service to product development.

Finally, I’ll tell you a little bit about growth: what it means and how to do it in a responsible and sustainable way.

As you can probably tell from that description, this will be an ongoing series for quite some time. If there are particular topics or aspects that you’re interested in, do let me know and I’ll add them to the list of future posts!

Oh, and the name of the series is obviously a goofy Project Runway reference for those of you who watch it, but I thought it fitting since running a business can sometimes feel like a race to make a ballgown out of trashbags… in one hour.

{image above: vintage dust jacket from finsbry}

(I couldn’t resist posting that image, it’s hilarious.)

Sarai Mitnick


Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.



January 26, 2010 #

Hmmm…any guess at what the book’s answer to the question posed on the dust jacket was?

Congrats on your first year!


January 26, 2010 #

Ha! I’m guessing by the phrasing of the question, the answer is that it is the road to ruin. I just love the phrase “a man of your own.”


January 27, 2010 #

Looking forward to this little series! Thanks for sharing your experience.


January 27, 2010 #

Oooh, excellent and exciting thread! Thanks so much for going out your way to share what you’ve learnt. I tried to start my own business once, but all the advice I could find was so technical and dry, I ended up loosing the will to continue. But I totally agree with what you said in the next post of this series, that it’s ok to give yourself time and not to rush into it because you’re kind of trapped intoa corner. Starting something on those terms is bound to be a failure. Thanks again! Can’t wait for the following installments.


January 27, 2010 #

I’m very excited to read more on this!! Yaaah!!

P.S. Have you seen new blog that is fantastic… it deals with issues on business development for artists.


January 27, 2010 #

Thank you thank you thank you! You are so right in that many people think of starting a business at some point in their life. I am the sole bread winner (hubby is stay-at-home) w/ 2 teens and the topic that keeps me a corporate-slave, is income and health-care. Can you address one of your articles on how you handled going from a “secure” paycheck to on your own?

Love your patterns!



January 27, 2010 #

I’m so glad you all are excited, and I hope you’ll get something useful out of the series!

Kathy, thanks for the recommendation, I just subscribed!

Molly, that’s a great suggestion. I’m planning to write a post on start up capital, so I’ll definitely keep that in mind.