It is very important to keep good organized records. In the beginning, I took a portable plastic filing case and some manila folders and labeled each one. Here are some of the most important folders that are in my cabinet, which is right in my main sewing room so that I can grab them quickly if need be.
Student Registration Forms – This folder has students’ forms that were filled out by the parent. (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Registration Forms – This folder contains empty registration forms so that I have them on hand when need be.
Receipts for Students – Some parents need receipts for the student who attended summer camps for their taxes. This folder contains a receipt that I keep on hand for those cases.
Release Form – This folder contains release forms for parents to fill out which gives me permission to photograph their child and the projects they make and use the photograph on a brochure, newspaper article, or website. (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Stamps & Envelopes – You always need these on hand.
Tuition Due Reminder – This folder has little notes in case a parent forgets to pay their monthly tuition. I usually wait until the second or third week to send this. I hardly had to use this, but it is a friendly reminder and a good note to keep on hand. (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Awards – This folder has a list of the awards I buy and the catalogs I get them from. If you are doing this in your school, Hodges Badge Company is a good company to use.
Sew onto Paper – This folder contains copies of the “Sew onto Paper” sheets for a quick grab if I have a new student and need the paper. (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Receipts – This folder contains all my receipts. Since you are self-employed, you will want to keep every receipt from anything you buy that has to do with your school.
Income – This folder contains a spread sheet that I keep a log of all my income. I am always curious where I make the most money, so my income sheet is divided up into different categories like: summer camps, fall/winter classes, private lessons, brownie troops, etc…
Confirmation Letters – Once I have received payment and registrations for summer camps, I send a confirmation letter to let the parent and student know that I received it. (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Camp Brochures – This folder contains many camp brochures. You will want to keep them on hand because you never know when a parent might say, “Can I have 10 brochures for our Girl scout troop, or our youth group?”(A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Fall/winter sewing pamphlets – Same as the camp brochure, keep plenty of these on hand. I also give our fall/winter tri-fold brochure to each student their last day of camp. A very high percent of the students come back in the fall!
Accident Form – Always have an accident form on hand just in case. Accidents do happen. (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Newspaper Contacts – It is a good idea to have a contact person from a newspaper. Keep their address and phone number handy too, so when you write an article, it’s easy to send out. Always send a photo with your write-up, editors love photos! (A sample for you to see will be available soon)
Business Cards – Keep plenty of these on hand, (in your purse too).
Birthday Parties – Just like the camp and fall/winter brochures, I made up a birthday party and girl scout troop paper showing what they can make and how much the cost is.
Gift Certificates – A parent actually gave me this idea. She said, “Do you have gift certificates? I want to put one in Sarah’s stocking this Christmas.” What a great idea I thought! So go ahead and make up a gift certificate and let everyone know you have them. I sell a lot of these around Christmas time! I made mine purple, put them in an envelope with a purple bow, and made a mini purple hanging quilt ornament to give as a gift.
Portfolio Paper – I keep all the papers involved with the sewing portfolios in this folder so they are easy to get to.
Keep good records of your income and supplies and other costs for income tax purposes. Keep every receipt in which you buy supplies for your school. Since you are self-employed these receipts are important and you will want to keep good records.
Always have some type of agreement for the students’ parents to sign. If they refuse to sign your form, then I highly suggest you do not let that child attend your school. I actually had a dad refuse to the sign our form, saying to me, “What if your roof was to cave in right now? You have to be responsible, I’m not signing that form.” Honestly, I just stood there with my mouth open, he caught me so off guard. But I decided after he left, that this was a red flag of a trouble maker. When the mother came to pick up the daughter I told her she could no longer sew here, and I told her what her husband said to me. She was visibly upset, apologized left and right for his behavior, and signed the form. That student stayed with me for two years. I only saw the dad once after that incident.
Keep all signatures on file. Have a form for permission for usage of student pictures for newspaper ads, brochures, and website; I have close to 10 thousand photos on my website, and a signature of a parent’s permission. If students are traveling with me in my car to a sewing field trip, I type up a permission slip for that too. We made a fun music video Sewing Back, and I had a permission slip that the parents had to sign for that too. Many of my students have been in magazines. I had permission slips for the photo shoot too. It just stated who the photographer was, what magazine they would be in, and they were not getting paid for the photo shoot.
If you are offering perfect attendance awards, like we do, keep good records of who attended classes, and if they missed, and/or if they did a make-up class.
What started out as a small plastic portable file case to carry about 15 file folders in is now 4 large metal filing cabinets!