Starting Smart

Judy Proudfoot, Proudfoot Wearable Art

Judy Proudfoot, 45, designs and sells handpainted clothing items, including sweatshirts, T-shirts and coordinates. Working out of her Alexandria, Minnesota, home, she uses a unique watercolor method with acrylic paints to create wearable works of art.

Because Proudfoot became involved with the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) before launching her business, she says planning her first budget was a snap. Based in Washington, DC (202-682-1510), with regional offices nationwide, the foundation provides start-up capital, instructional training and ongoing support to individuals-many of them women-interested in launching small businesses.

"The folks at FINCA showed me what it takes to start a business," Proudfoot says. "When I started with the group, they actually gave us a budgeting sheet that was all charted out, category by category, guiding us through the process of determining how much money we would need monthly in order to run a business. As a result, I have a solid system that I go by, and I take it very seriously. Although I'm now into the second full year of my business, I still look back at my budget every month and compare where I thought I was going to be financially versus what really happened. It helps me to remain realistic about my goals and expectations."

Because she works from home and her products are relatively inexpensive to create, Proudfoot says that her business's budget is quite different from many others. "My business is a lot simpler than most," she explains. "As a result, what I mainly have to budget are my craft-show fees-I have to pay out a certain amount of money to reserve selling space at upcoming shows, and payment is usually required about four months in advance. That's my biggest expense right there, followed by expenses to pay for the clothing items themselves, the paints, gasoline, telephone calls, postage and shipping. Those are the real basics for me. That's where the money goes. And it doesn't hurt, either, that my husband works in advertising, because I get a lot of freebies from him, including no-charge consultation about how to get the most for my advertising dollar."

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This article was originally published in the September 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Starting Smart.

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