Question:

How do I start a business?

Leadership/decision making

How are you doing? Do you ever feel like the centipede that was told to put its best foot forward? When you're having trouble making a decision, try these six preliminary questions. 1. What is my real objective? Why must I decide? 2. What is my deadline? When must I decide? 3. Can I break the decision down into smaller parts? 4. Will this decision be final? Or can I change my mind later? 5. What risks are involved? Are they worth it? 6. What new information do I need before I decide? Deciding to decide is often the hardest part. These six questions will help clarify your thoughts and actions so you can make the decision and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way.

Size

Size
Size is another factor to consider when choosing your place. Small studios are usually about 600 square feet. Large studios are approximately 3000. Most are generally between 1500-2000 square feet. Your size should be based on the level of activity you plan to have at your location. Here are some questions to consider:
• How many kilns you will run?
• Where will your kilns vent?
• How many tables do you plan to put in the space and where will they be located?
• Is there enough space for bisque, finished ware, kiln shelves, stilts, posts, and other storage?
• Will you need an office?
• How much counter space you need?
• Where will your paint display and serving area be located?
• Will you offer food and beverages?
• Is your shop handicapped accessible?
• Will you plan to have activities or a room for small children who are not
painting?

Studio Type

Studio Type
If you are generally new to the ceramics business, you may elect to begin your business as a purely contemporary studio, where customers paint on bisque, you dip and fire their pieces, and they pick them up in three to five days.

Location

Location, Location, Location
Although this is a common phrase, prospective owners sometimes choose to ignore it or don't understand what it really means. In a nutshell – you have to open where the money is. Consider city populations and types. Several years ago, it was thought that a town with a population of at least 60,000 people could sustain a studio. In some cases, it could. Yet strong factors include a city's character, its affluence, and whether it is a college town, year-round or seasonal resort. Ask yourself the following:
• Have upper-income families moved to the town to make it their oasis from asphalt, traffic, and noise?
• Do other activities in which families participate, such as movies and shopping malls, exist in the area?
• Is another big city is within an hour's drive? The answers to all these play a part in determining the likely flow of traffic into your studio.

Dealing with Real Estate

When your opportunity comes to look over a location, look professional and come prepared with questions. Ask about the lease length, cost per square foot, triple net, commons, finish-out allowance, maximum capacity, signage allowances, strip center hours and requirements. You should also inquire as to when the space will become available, and/or what other terms or allowances there might be. You may also want to ask for the demographics on the area. They can get them for you.

Definition of Success

A Definition of Success
Realize there are no guarantees in life, and that might go double for business. You can bet McDonald's does their homework before they open a new location, but even that doesn't guarantee success. However, success means different things to different people. To one person, success might mean being able to pay all the bills every month and have a comfortable, if not rich existence. In ceramics, that could mean happiness at not being in the corporate world, being creative, and helping bring the joy of ceramics to others. However, this might be completely unacceptable to another person who wants to make a lot of money, hire a manager and be on vacations often. This situation is very rare and you better be able to gamble your loan on it. You need to determine what you feel is a decent living. This does not mean gross sales, it means your salary. For instance, you most likely won't have a salary of $50,000 the first year or even the second. You might make it the third year if you do everything right and you're lucky. And even then, who's to say what's “right?”The four most critical issues a new owner must face are:
• Location
• Business know-how
• Advertising, marketing, and public relations
• Old-fashioned common sense

Competition

Competition
Generally speaking, it's best to be where people are. Therefore, if you have the choice between leasing a cute house a few doors off Main Street with 1500 square feet for $1,000 per month, or a 1,200 square foot shop in a new strip center across town with a popular café and new multi-theater for $2,800 per month, take the latter of the two. Advertising most likely won't make up the lost income from the lack of foot traffic. This makes the house off Main Street a losing bet. Many people who have tried it before thought it could be done, and now they are closed. The bottom line is – don't be afraid of rental costs if the location is right.

The Production Area: Wheels

The Production Area
Although this area will contain the same basic elements in every pottery, the arrangements will vary from person to person. Wedging benches should be placed as near as possible to the clay storage. To facilitate efficient wedging, this bench should be very sturdy and set at a height just above knee level. This height allows you to put your weight over the clay and saves energy when wedging. The number of wheels and so on will determine the layout to some extent. The wheel should be placed near a good source of natural light. But if you make the view too attractive, you may spend more time looking than potting. It is a good idea to have benches around your wheel so that you have somewhere to put clay, tools and potboards.

Business in a College town

The summer months can be fairly quiet in college towns. Therefore, you have to determine whether you can sustain three months with limited business in the summer. Moreover, keep in mind that student activities on campus are often free or part of the tuition. College kids often do not have the time or money to spare to do ceramics regularly enough to make it profitable for you.

Leasing

Leasing
When speaking with the leasing agent, remain pleasant and professional, no matter how many times you have to call. When they ask you what kind of business you plan to operate, don't be shocked if they hang up when you explain that it is a new pottery painting or ceramics studio. Bear in mind, many landlords are looking for renters who have tried-and-true businesses that will sign long leases and are practically guaranteed success. If the leasing agent has no knowledge of the ceramics business, they may be less enthusiastic than you are.

Ceramics Frequently Asked Questions

What precautions should I take in the studio?

How do I decorate my ware?

How do I apply Lustres?

How do I market my ceramics?

How do I apply glaze?

How do I market my ceramics?

How do I fire porcelain?

How do I cast slip?

How do I fire an electric kiln?

How do I apply glaze?

What are some stoneware glazes?

What Precautions when using dry ingredients?

How do I apply glaze?

How do I apply opaque stains ?

How do I wedge clay?

How do I apply Stains?

What is Lustre?

What should I keep in mind when designing my studio?

How do I make a coil pot

How do I decorate my ware?

How do I make molds?

What is Clay?

How do I apply glaze?

What is a decal?

How do I clean Greenware?

How do I add texture?

How do I centre my clay?

What tools do I need to start potting?

How do I start a business?

How do I best promote myself and my work?

How do I load my kiln?

What are ceramics

Where do I start?

How do I make a simple mold?

How do I fire Decals?

How can I make a mould?

What are some life quotes?

What is underglaze?

What is Porcelain

How do I care for my brushes?

How do I care for my molds?

What is Celadon?

What is the Tea Ceremony?

How do I care for my kiln?

How do I apply one-strokes?

What safety aspect should I keep in mind when working with glazes?

How do I apply Lustres?

What is Overglaze?

What are oxides?

How do I fire Bisque?

Where do I begin?

What should I remember when firing the kiln?

How do I clean brushes?

How do I slump/sag glass?

How do I apply overglazes?

How do I best publicise my business?

How do I make a simple plaster mold?

How do I care for my brushes?

Are stains safe.

How do I fire overglazes/lustres?

What is a reduction firing?

How do I doccument my work?

How do I create fine feature lines?

How and when sholuld I apply underglazes?

How do I make molds?

What is an engobe?

Are they Water or oil base stains?

How do I hold my brush?

How do I store my Materials?

Are any two kilns are exactly alike?

What is mould in clay?

What is a Pyrometric Cone?

Do I need a cone?

how do I throw clay?

Can I use sand to stop glaze running onto shelves

How do I test my glazes?

How do I apply China Paints?

Does greenware need to be dry before loading?

What are some life quotes?

What is the history of the Potter´s Wheel?

How do I fire lustre?

What is a glaze?

How do I fire lustres?

What is The History of the Way of Tea

What is Celadon (Cheong-Ja) - the Stuff of Kings?

How do I dry overglazes?

What is a glaze?

How do I Burnish?

What is an overglaze marbleizer?

Is there a trick toThrowing Porcelain?

Have you some lovely words?

What is Earthenware?

What is a glaze?

What are some stoneware glazes?

How do I paint Eyes?

How do I Recycle Clay

How do I attach wet pieces?

How do I make a teapot?

How do I make a plaster mold

What are some good tools for decoration?

What is Kiln Wash?

How do I glaze my ware?

How do I slipcast ceramics?

What are some life quotes?

how do I dry my ware?

How do I fire my ware?

How do I apply texture to my piece?

What is a Glost firing?

How do I make my own glazes?

What are some change quotes?

How do I store my tools?

What is the history of Raku?

What is Paperclay

What is a crackle glaze?

Do I need kiln wash for bisque?

How do I refire a glazed piece ?

What is reduction?

What must I remember when Raku firing?

How do I add decoration to my ceramics?

How do I care for my elements?

Does over firing produce poor colour in coloured glaze?s

How do I use my brush?

How do I care for my brushes?

How do I recycle clay?

What are some success quotes?

What is a glaze?

How do I clean Greenware?

How do I make coils?

What are some Black Firing Tips and Tricks?

What is the safest way to pack my ceramics?

What are Formulated clays?

How do I do a reduction firing?

automatic kiln sitter, should I trust it?

How do I care for my molds?

What are some tips for draining a mold?

What is a decal?

What safety measures should I take with Raku Firing?

How do I attach a bat to the wheelhead?

What tools do I need for ceramics

What are suggested plate clay weights?

What do I need to get started?

What are observation holes ?

What tools do I need to make a coil pot

How do I fire ceramic bisque ?

How do I recycle batches of clay quickly

How do I care for my molds?

How do I fire my ware?

How do I roll a slab?

How do I fire my kiln?

What is the correct firing time?

How to I prepare and make slabs?

What is Leatherhard ?

What materials are toxic in Ceramics?

How do I fire glaze?

What are slabs?

What is Korean celadon?

How do I fire Raku?

How do I make paperclay?

Can Crackle glazes be used for food?

How do I avoid S cracks in wheel thrown ware

how do I apply glazes?

How do I get the press onside?

How do I open-up the clay?

How do I fire Reds/Yellows?

What is a glaze?

How do I fire Ceramic glaze ?

Can I repair my kiln?

What are the Approx. firing times?

Ho do I avoid pitting and pinholes?

How do I make throwing ribs?

What is Stoneware?

How do I care for my molds?

How do I apply kiln wash?

What is a Stain?

What is a mold?

How do I decorate my ceramics?

How do I remove mold lines?

How do I cut the spare?

What is a ´good teapot´?

How do I Bisque fire in an electric kiln?

How do I keep a kiln log?

How do I paint Eyes?

How do I decorate my ceramics?

How do I apply crackle glazes ?

What is Primary clay?

What are some easy projects?

What is Thermal Shock?

What effects can I achieve with a brush?

What are cones?

How do I Drain small pour holes?

What is Glaze?

What is Raku?

How do I remove a stuck lid?

How do I glaze my ware?

How do I make Egyptian Paste?

How do I apply texture?

What is overglaze/lustre?

Must my kiln be level?

How do I make my own brushes?

What clay should I use?

How do I apply a decal?

How do I clean my greenware?

What is Agate ware?

How do I care for my new Kiln?

How do I make stamps?

How do I load my kiln?

How long do I fire bisque?

How do I promote my work?

can I draw directly onto a piece?

How do I increase my profile?

How do I fire different bodies?

what is porcelain?

How do I make test tiles?

What is Earthenware?

What is the humming in my new kiln?

What should I remember when firing a new kiln?

How do I mend Greenware?

how do I get the best results in glazing?

How do I prevent dirt on my greenware?

How do I accomodate Clay Storage in my studio?

How do I fire Larger pieces ?

How do I prevent sagging during firing?

How do I brush one-strokes?

How do I load my brush for applying underglaze?

How do I mend molds?

Why should I use pottery plaster?

What is the coat coverage ?

How do I prevent glazes from settling ?

How do I fire lace figurines?

What is Albany slip?

How do I create a woodtone effect?

How do I light my Gas Kiln?

What is a pyrometer?

What is a Binder?

What is a glaze?

What are some Doing well Quotes?

What is Slip casting?

What is a Rib?

What is a Bisque?

How do I care for my elements?

How do I fire porcelain?

How do I store my throwing tools?

What is the History of tea?

What is the history of Ceramics?

Why do I get black spots in my glaze?

How do I fire flat pieces?

What is Terra-Sigillata?

What are Pyrometric Cones?

What is Iron Oxide?

How do I load my kiln for a glaze firing?





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Carma Spence-Pothitt