''Do me a favor ... don't show me any more hats.''

''Do me a favor ... don't show me any more hats.''
by Lainey Hashorva

Courtesy of Handmade Business

That's a line from one of my all-time favorite movies, Heaven Can Wait. When you're self-employed you wear many hats. I forget sometimes that I only have one head, and lately, it's full to capacity! These days in my home-based craft business, I'm the artist, the salesperson, the receptionist, the bill collector, the problem solver, the fire putter outer, the UPS manager and the cyberspace networker--to name just a few of the hats I wear.

Between changing hats, I find it a good idea to relax, revisit and take advantage of basic resources (some of which I'd forgotten, ignored, or just been too busy to do) that can make life just a little easier, and often, less expensive.

Recycling is such a hot topic and a great idea all the way around. One of the best resources I've found that helps cut costs AND makes me feel good about recycling is www.FREECYCLE.org. If you're not familiar with it, it's easy to navigate and most communities have a Freecycle network already established. In short, it's a free trading community. So, for example, if you need bubble wrap and empty boxes, you post a "wanted" request to your trading community. Often you'll get responses from one or more people with what you want or need; then, you simply establish a pick-up time at their location or other agreed meeting spot. If another person needs lemons, say, and you happen to have a tree bursting with lemons ... well, you get the idea.

Social networking on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is another increasingly valuable resource. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your online friends and colleagues. Need suggestions for an accountant, tax specialist, cleaning person or face painter? Odds are that your friends (and friends of friends) will have ideas and/or recommendations you never thought of because you're busy wearing so many hats! I once posted that I needed accounting software and someone sent me the software they no longer used--FREE!

"You get less of the 'good stuff' done, if you try to do it all."
Artist Lainey Hashorva

"Try unconventional ways of arriving at the destination."
Artist Lainey Hashorva
EBay and other online auction sites continue to be a great way to clear clutter and make or save money. When I have excess materials that I no longer use and odds and ends that have been sitting for a long time, I list them in "lots" to make a little extra dough and to clear out the unused stuff taking up space and energy in my creative room. It's a great way to recycle and make more room for your product.

Friends are great sounding boards and can be great business resources as well. In managing my craft business, I brainstorm with friends and get other creative artist friends together for wine and snacks as we solve problems and share inspirations with each other. It's a good way to get inspired and to break the isolation of being a SOLE proprietor. It even inspires me to vacuum because people are coming over!

One of my creative designer friends teaches at the Fashion Institute of Design in Los Angeles. I mentioned to her how heavy the load felt lately and she suggested that she make an announcement to her classes to find me an intern to help in my studio. Students often want that first-hand, hands-on experience on how to run a small business. You'd be surprised that what may be "old hat" to you, can be a thrilling new experience to someone who's never been in that arena. You get the help you need. They get real work experience they need.

With spring coming, I'm feeling a bit encumbered by all these hats. So, I'm establishing some goals, clearing clutter, setting time-frames for tasks, and reminding myself to stretch and to breathe more ... to go outside and put my bare feet on the ground and just soak in some sun, sky and air.

Hats (and shoes) off ... to all the resources available right at our fingertips!

The Freecycle Network is made up of 5,033 groups with 8,886,849 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely non-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers, and membership by local volunteers, and membership is free. Find Freecycle groups in your area by visiting www.freecycle.org