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‘I Shoulda Lived on Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches’: Jewelers Reveal What They ‘Shoulda Done’ In Their Early Years




You can learn a lot from an experienced jeweler about how to do things — and how not to do them.

For Big Survey 2016, we asked some questions designed to get jewelers thinking, and talking, about the past. If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll surely relate to some of the answers below. And if you’re still early in your career, you’ll find some valuable advice.

In one question, we asked readers to tell us about “one thing you now do that you should have done in your early years.”

The answers would be music to the ears of many of our regular consultants. You’ve become better businesspeople and learned the lessons of experience.

Here are the top nine answers, along with the percentage of respondents who named them.

  • Manage inventory better (10%)
  • Take more time off (9%)
  • Charge more for your goods, services and effort (6%)
  • These were followed by lighten up (6%)
  • delegate more (4%)
  • invest in technology, (4%)
  • Dsave more (3%)
  • specialize in a type of inventory or service (3%)
  • become financially literate (3%)

And as you’ve gotten older it seems you’ve gotten a little less interesting but more generous in providing specific advice such as:

  • Follow-up with every customer at least three times
  • Set up bank sale tax and employment/withholding tax accounts. (“It changed my cash flow issues”)
  • Eat more plants
  • Opened an Etsy store
  • Accept credit cards
  • Put a doorbell on the door so I can get more done in the workshop during business hours.
  • Buy in India
  • Not drink on the job.
  • Am less combative with my parents


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We also asked you to tell us “one thing you used to do in your early years as a store owner that you no longer do.”

Many of you have learned how to step away from work in order to achieve more balance in your lives. The top three answers were:

  • Micro-manage everything (13%)
  • Manage inventory better (10%)
  • Work too much / put in long hours (10%)
  • Worry/stress about things outside my control (5%)
  • Also earning multiple votes were lack of self-confidence (4%)
  • Taking MORE time off for vacation (4%).

Other, um, “interesting” responses included:

  • “Dress up.”
  • “Dress down.”
  • “Fart on command.”
  • “Have sex in the back room with my goldsmith, but then he had to hire help.”
  • “Live entirely on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
  • “Jump over the counter.”
  • “Only hire pretty girls.”
  • “Have hair.”
  • “A lot of drugs.”





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