Reading, listening to audio tapes or watching videotapes are such easy things to do, and they can bring you great rewards for a minimal amount of time. The top achievers in the business world know this and nurture themselves with daily education. Many of them start their days an hour early just to devote time to reading. If you will commit to exposing yourself to instructional books, tapes or videos pertaining to your business for a half hour every day for the next year, you could double your income!
As a workroom, you need far more education than just how to fabricate window coverings. You must have a diverse education covering such topics as business management, marketing, selling and handling employees. Remember you are the CEO of a very important company. It's your responsibility to know how your business needs to be run.
There are many resources from which to choose in your search for a good education. If you get one good tip that helps you from each source you try, the rewards will be worth your investment. The following are a few of the resources I have found to be outstanding. The books are coded with a "B"; audio tapes with a "T"; and videotapes with a "V." All of these would provide a wonderful foundation to your business and your library.
(B) Marketing & Promotion From A to Z, by Kay Pegram (available through D&WC's Bookstore,  833-9056; www.DWCdesigNET.com). Pegram's background in window coverings is a real asset. This book is particularly good if you also are a decorator.
(B) Guerrilla Marketing for the Home-based Business, by Jay Conrad Levinson and Seth Godin. This book has wonderful, innovative ways for marketing. The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook by Jay Conrad Levinson, Seth Godin and Charles Rubin is another good one.
As a workroom, you might not think you need an education in selling, but no matter what your business you have to do some selling.
(B) How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling, by Frank Bettger. This is a very old book, but it has always been my favorite.
(T) "The Psychology of Selling: The Art of Closing the Sale," by Brian Tracy (Nightingale-Conant,  323-5552). This is my second favorite resource for selling information. He has tips and ideas I've never heard before.
(B) Selling to the Limit, by Jo Ann Brezette ( 844-4636; JoBreeze@aol.com). Brezette is a highly successful salesperson in the window coverings industry. If you are selling retail, this book is a must-have!
The better you understand human behavior, the better you will be able to sell and communicate with your clients, or with your family!
(B), ( T) How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. This is one of the greatest books ever written! Everybody, business owner or not, should read this book!
(T) "Unlimited Power," by Tony Robbins (Nightingale-Conant,  323-5552). This is another one of my all-time favorites. This tape really does help you understand human behavior. When I need a jump start, I listen to Robbins.
Any book or tape on any aspect of business is a great investment.
(B) How to Start Making Money with Your Sewing, by Karen Maslowski. This book has interviews with entrepreneurs and has good basic business information.
(B) The Bootstrap Entrepreneur, by Steve Bursten. This is a good fast-reading book about starting a business with a limited investment.
There are very few books available on pricing. I know this because I was doing research for the book I'm writing for the window coverings industry.
(B) Priced To Sell: The Complete Guide to More Profitable Pricing, by Herman Holtz. This book contains very good information.
(B) Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed to Do and What to Do About It, by Ferdinand F. Fournies. This book is easy to understand, a fast read and packed full of solid information.
BASIC WINDOW TREATMENT KNOWLEDGE
(B) A Practical Guide to Soft Window Coverings, by Cheryl Strickland. www.DWCdesigNET.com; Bookstore). This book is very well organized with measuring and calculating information.
(B) Workroom Specifications, by Kitty Stein (www.DWCdesigNET.com; Bookstore). This set of master forms is designed for workrooms to furnish their trade clients in order to better educate them. It offers brief, concise quality standards and calculating formulas.
Understanding why fabrics behave as they do enables the workroom to know what they are and are not responsible for after fabrication. If a designer insists on choosing a poor fabric for a treatment, it is not the workroom's fault if the result is less than satisfactory. It will dramatically increase a workroom's credibility if the owner can warn the designer up front of the consequences.
(B) Understanding Fabrics, by Karla Nielson (D&WC; www.DWCdesigNET.com). This is a good handbook with all the essentials on fabrics.
(B) Guide to Textiles for Interior Designers, by Dianne R. Jackman and Mary K. Dixon (Peguis Publishers Ltd., 482 Hargrave St., Winnipeg, Canada MB R3A 0X5). This book may no longer be available, but it is an outstanding resource with lots of detail about fabrics.
There are many how-to books available in bookstores, on the Internet and from industry resources. You probably will learn something from each of them. What they won't give you is good production techniques.
Also, beware of the many books by British authors as their terminology and methodology is different from ours. Recognizing the differences up front will help you to convert their instructions to be more usable for you. It is not too difficult to mechanize much of the handwork these authors promote to make it more affordable for your market.
(B) The Encyclopedia of Curtains, by Catherine Merrick and Rebecca Day (WCAA,  298-9222; www.wcaa.org). Merrick and Day are British, but despite the handwork and terminology differences this is an excellent how-to resource. It also has marvelous close-up photos of fabrication details. This is my favorite how-to book, and I would recommend it be your first fabrication book. Then build your library from there.
(B) The Art of Manipulating Fabric, by Colette Wolff. This is my second favorite fabrication book. It has everything you ever would want to know about making trims. There are lots of photographs that will make your creative juices flow.
(B) Practical Drapery Cutting, by E. Noetzli (Potterton Books in England, +44-1845-501218). This book is one of my favorites but it's written in very old English and makes a few too many assumptions. It's difficult to understand, but it has outstanding information on how to make elaborate Victorian treatments. It's definitely for the detail- and math-minded person.
(V) "Professional Workroom Techniques" and "Fabricating Rod Pocket Treatments," by Cheryl Strickland. ( 473-9942; www.professionaldrapery.com) Finally, we have good resources that get into good production techniques! Any of Strickland's videotapes is worth the investment.
(V) "Professional Slipcovers 101," by Joanie Johnson ( 798-9002; email@example.com). This video offers a good solid foundation on slip covering.
(B) How the Professional Installs Custom Draperies & Window Coverings, by the Professional Drapery Institute (available through Rowley Co.,  343-4542). This has all the basics needed for installation.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
This list of books, tapes and videos is what I would recommend for you to get started with building a good resource library, but it is only a start. There are many, many more good resources available that I have not had the opportunity to use.
The more you learn about running a business the more control you will have of your time and the direction in which you want your business to go. The more you learn and file away in your mind, the more mental references you will have when you need them for solving problems. Isn't that a major part of your job?
Decide now to strengthen your business and reinforce your problem-solving abilities. With that will come more respectability, credibility and profit!
Kitty Stein, WCAA, is a 20-year veteran of the drapery workroom field, having owned and operated her own business for 18 years and having taught classes on window treatment construction. Until 1990, Stein and a partner owned a workroom with nine employees. She since has opened her own smaller workroom, Workroom Concepts, that has just one employee. She also does workroom consulting, seminar speaking and is the author of Order in the Workroom available through Draperies & Window Coverings.