It’s been said that two of the most important things in the world come without instructions - babies and cash. First to babies...
My daughter was going to have a baby recently, and I was pressed into service (ok, I leapt at the opportunity) to take care of her two year old while she was in the hospital. When I got to New York, I was handed a small sheet of instructions that only included a few items such as bed time, nap time and snack time. It took me a minute to realize these were not suggestions for me, but for my granddaughter. This was not the complete set of instructions that would be useful to a grandfather taking care of his baby granddaughter alone in New York City for the first time.
The next morning, at 5 am, my daughter went into active labor, and as she and her husband ran out the door, she said, “Oh, and you can take her to the dog park, she loves that!”
“Now that is something I can work with! Good luck and keep me posted!” I said as she hustled out.
Later that morning, after breakfast, two hours of Sesame Street, and a brief explanation of where Mommy and Daddy were, we headed off to the dog park. Now, it might have been useful to mention that the usual routine is to simply watch from outside the fence. I assumed we actually went in and played with the dogs. I’ll know better next time, and any damage to my granddaughter and some of the small dogs will quickly be forgotten.
Now to cash. Kevin is one of the most talented jewelers I’ve ever met. His unique styles are innovative, cutting edge, and not seen anywhere else. In twenty years he’s opened three shops and went out of business in all three locations. The reason, as Kevin will tell you in his own words is, “I am the world’s worst businessman!”
“Why would I want to fill out sales tax receipts filing forms, schedule employees, phone in the payroll, pay vendors, when all I really enjoy is working at the bench?” he asked me over dinner the other night. “Why can’t I just do what I enjoy and am good at?”
“You can if you want to work for someone else,” I said. “But I know you, and you wouldn’t last half a day in somebody else’s shop!”
As Kevin has shown, just because you can create wonderful masterpieces at the bench doesn’t mean you know things like small business accounting and store management, two critical elements of running a successful jewelry store. And, clearly, if he had the patience to take some courses in these areas of cash management, (and Kevin himself knows this), he could, no doubt, run a successful operation.
Typically we think of taking courses to enhance our current trade skills like adding colored stone grading or CAD/CAM to our resume. But many of our friends in the industry could benefit by acquiring skills not needed at the bench or behind the counter, but in the back office. Combining your bench or counter skills with business management skills is a great way to get yourself promoted or put you on the right path to one day even owning your own shop.
To help you get started, The 24 Karat Club has a number of scholarship opportunities that you can use to gain the background and expertise needed to run your own shop, or make you a more valuable employee. To get more information, or to apply for the right scholarship for you, contact your favorite 24 Karat Club member. A listing of the members is available on the Club’s website, www.the24karatclub.org.
If Kevin could only manage his business like he works his way around the bench, he’d be a huge success. And, grandfathers can make everything better with ice cream. But just think how much better off everyone would be with the proper instruction.
And, because all of my columns have a happy ending, you should know that my granddaughter has a new baby sister named Kira, named in memory of my beloved wife Kiki.