Think about your business to last for the long run

Glazed Stoneware Pie Plate with Fish Motif - Artist Janet Bauer

You have probably heard about businesses that are hundred years old or more and still active, and growing in both size and recognition. Do you think the founder thought it would last such a long time? Well, in many cases we don’t know, but you can be sure that more of them started based on the same urge you have and grew from there.
Ceramic history is filled with stories about the founder of a company who had a good glaze recipe, introduced a new painting or forming technique, found a great source of clay or invented a new, more efficient implement, instrument or machine.

History is also filled with failed businesses, many of them because the founder did not plan for the long run.

Plan for your business to have eternal life

Why is this so important? It is of overriding importance because it will dictate how you look at your ceramic business, how you plan for it, give it structure, employ people, establish its support structure and keep educating yourself in the field of business. In short, it impacts your entire thinking about your enterprise, be it small, large or growing.

Think about Rembrandt and his school of painting, Josiah Wedgwood in England, whose factory is still producing fabulous Jasperware. The Meissen factory in Germany who took Boettiger’s invention of porcelain in 1709 (in Europe – in China it had been known for 2,000 years already) and made his boss, the King of Saxony, one of the richest men in Germany – history is full of success stories.

Ceramics is arguably one of mankind’s oldest art forms, the oldest vessels dating back almost 20,000 years. How many innovations were made from then till now?

If you don’t want to go back very far, think of Edward Orton who refined the pyrometric cone, making a worldwide success of the German Hermann Seger’s invention in 1886, which is still dominant in the industry.

And, very recently, consider the business system of the Contemporary Ceramic Studios, which separated the forming of ceramic objects from the teaching and decorating, thus freeing up the owner’s time to run the business.
What is mentioned above have created global businesses, but if you look at smaller enterprises you will find thousands of patented innovations in the areas of kilns, wheels, refractories, and hundred other items we today take for granted. They, or their heirs, may still collect royalties from their patents.

Well, you may say, I’m not an inventor; I’m a ceramicist who will teach students my techniques through seminars and – perhaps books that I will write. Think of Daniel Rhodes, my favorite author about stoneware and porcelain – high-fired clay bodies – who not only influenced a generation of budding ceramic artists but also created shapes and glazes that still inspire.
Do not forget – teaching is also a business by our definition and so it authoring. Think back in history and you will easily see why that is so.

If you are reading these lines, you probably have the blood of an entrepreneur running through your veins, just like those cited above. My big point here is that once you embrace the idea of being in the business of ceramics, you really don’t know where it will lead. So, do not give up after some set-back but insist on success for the long run.

It will give meaning to your life and perspective on what you are doing.

Everything in this series of articles will be backed by the concept that each action you take, each decision you make and idea you dream up will yield results for the indefinite future.

If you don’t plan for success at some time in the future, why bother to hang in there to make it reality?

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© 2011 by Rolf E. Ericson, Oneonta, New York, publisher. All rights reserved. Photocopying, reproduction , copying, or redistribution of any kind in printed or electronic form is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.