Tag Archive: time management


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As summer winds down, I am proud to say that I realized one of my major business goals for this year – to participate in two summer craft shows. It was a large endeavor in which I invested money (purchasing tent, tables, displays, etc.) and time (building my show inventory from practically nothing), but the experience and positive feedback were more than worth it. Now my plans for the fall include getting my Etsy shop inventory back up, revamping two of my bracelet lines, launching a new bracelet line, following up with my wholesale account, and lining up two craft shows for the holidays…Wow! That is a huge agenda for a part-time business!

I admit, Ms. Easygoing is actually feeling a little overwhelmed here! So I decided to take this weekend off…spent yesterday shopping with my sister and today hanging out with Mia and Chase, the Weimaraners. I also spent some time reflecting on my business. This year, I have experienced a nice amount of growth – in addition to the craft shows, my Etsy sales revenue has increased by more than 50% over this time last year! So how do I juggle the extra time my growing business requires? Inspiration does often come in the oddest places…

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Try not to be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life…

I recently read an article about Pearl Jam in Forbes Magazine (yes…that’s right…Forbes). The basis of the articles was how PJ chose to scale down their success at the height of their popularity in the early 90’s and forge a lifestyle business that has lasted for over 23 years:

“Pearl Jam’s answer to their hot streak of hit albums was to scale back their success and become a lifestyle business. Rather than focusing on growth, expansion, and increasing return on investment, the goal of lifestyle businesses is to enable their owners to earn a living and sustain their lifestyle. Lifestyle businesses allow their owners to fulfill their ambitions without sacrificing things that are important to them.”

I think that a lifestyle business appeals to most creative types…time always needs to be available to find inspiration and nothing is as detrimental to the creative process as burnout. The main reason I started Serendipity Blu was to feed my creative spirit. I have a great job, but it is in the left-brained dominated financial industry. When I come home from a stressful day at my office, nothing is as soothing as creating things of beauty. (Except maybe Weimaraners!) The added bonus of my creative venture is beefing up my travel budget, my greatest passion.

With that in mind, I have made some important decisions for the fall. I have chosen to not do craft shows until the holidays, even though fall is the busiest show season. I was worried that, after my busy summer, I would feel burnout if I prepped for any shows in the next month or two. Instead, I am taking some vacation time to travel to Salem, Massachusetts in October to experience Haunted Happenings. I also have a couple of big concerts lined up (PJ in Philly in October and Chris Cornell in Atlantic City in November). I also have to remember that I have three months to accomplish everything on my list and it is best to just focus on one task at a time. So for the next two weeks, I am going to work only on getting my shop inventory back up and enjoying these last few precious weeks of summer…

If you are interested in reading the entire PJ article from Forbes, I have included this link:

Pearl Jam Return To The Spotlight As A Mature Lifestyle Business

Thanks for stopping by!

Shanti,
Erin

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Now that the two doggies are getting acclimated, I feel like my life is finally getting back to normal and I am able to spend time on all of the other things I enjoy. (Although what could be more enjoyable than a new puppy!) Last night, I attended an awesome Black Crowes show in Philly and today I am working on my hand-crafted jewelry business. I am starting off by wrapping up this business planning series of my blog and then I will be weaving away to get my inventory up for summer craft shows. I wanted to share a picture of the two best buds – Mia, who will be five next month, and our new edition, Chase, who just turned seven months:

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MARKETING WITHIN ETSY

The previous posts in this series have chronicled my my business planning journey through the following areas: narrowing the scope of my craft, branding my image, adding finishing touches, setting goals, and setting up an online shop. Now, I am going to focus on what I have done to spread the word about my business and resources I use to expand my business.

Why Choose Etsy?

I originally chose to set up shop with Etsy almost two years ago because the fees were very reasonable, online support is very good, and the Etsy community is very active. At that time, very few of my friends had heard of the online marketplace, but now Etsy has become more mainstream – most shoppers use it as the go to source for anything handmade. While I do like that Etsy is becoming more well known, I am concerned that it is becoming too big to maintain an indie edge. Even so, I still think it is one of the best starting points for an online presence for your crafting business.

It’s All Karma

One of the first things I learned about being a member of the Etsy community is to share the love. One of the best ways to improve your standings in search results is to have items that have many views and fav’s. I make it a practice to add items to my favorites for any shop owner who has favorited my work. It is a simple, yet powerful practice.

Treasuries are curated collections created by Etsy members. I usually have time to create 1-2 treasuries per month. When I do, I typically follow a PIF (pay it forward) rule: if I am featured in someone’s treasury, I will promote it, add the other items to my favorites, and feature the curator in my next collection.

Both of these practices are very common in the Etsy community, and I have found that by staying active, I have gotten my shop much more exposure.

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This is a gorgeous treasury in which I was recently featured.

Build a Local Network

The Etsy community is made up of teams for members to join to network with other like-minded members. Some of the teams I belong to are the Hippie Peaceniks, Bohemian Lovers, and Beachy Things. For anyone following my blog, these surely seem like obvious choices for me. But the one team that I consider to be the most important is the South Jersey Etsians. I am a leader on this team (which just recently reached 100 members!) and maintain a very active status. As its name suggests, this team is very localized: most members live in the south western counties of the state (the ones closest to the city of Philadelphia). The main advantage of such a localized team is that we are able to host regular marketing mixers to meet in person to network. While I acknowledge the importance of staying connected in the cyber world, I must admit that I am old school and sometimes you just can’t beat face to face contact. If you are unable to find a localized team on Etsy, don’t be afraid to start one and invite members in – it will really help you cultivate a wonderful community of fellow local artisans and friends. And if you live in South Jersey and have a shop on Etsy, come join our team!

South Jersey Etsians

MARKETING OUTSIDE OF ETSY

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Social Media is such an important part of today’s world, that it would almost be foolhardy to not take advantage of the marketing possibilities it holds. There are so many choices – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, blogging – that it can feel so overwhelming! I fear that if I dedicated time to each social media outlet, I would not have any time left over to make my jewelry! I decided the social media outlets I would use to market my business would be the same ones that I use for everyday communication. I actually do not spend much time on Facebook or Twitter, so I do not market regularly through them. I do enjoy reading blogs and I am quite addicted to Pinterest, so I have chosen to market through those outlets. I am proud to say that I have gotten many views and a few sales from both as well! My best advice to my readers is to be consistent with whichever social media you choose. If you choose to market through Facebook because you update your timeline everyday, then you should also be updating your shop page just as frequently.

I love to take photos, so I am intrigued by the Instagram concept, and I am considering adding it as a marketing tool. What social media do you use to market your Etsy shop? Where have you found the most success? I would love to hear about it in my comments section.

If you would like to check out my Pinterest boards, you can do so here:

http://pinterest.com/serendipityblu/

BLOG RESOURCES

I have found the following blogs to be extremely beneficial in my business planning and I encourage all of my readers to follow them:

Oh My! Handmade

Handmadeology

Thanks for stopping by, and once again joining me on my business planning journey!

Shanti,
Erin

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I am up to Part 4 of my Getting Down to Business Series. I think the best way to begin is with a brief recap of the previous 3 posts:

Narrowing Your Focus

1. Why do you craft?
2. What inspires you?
3. Who is your customer?
4. What is your niche?

Building a Brand

1. Who am I? (What 10 words describe you?)
2. How can you use these words to create an image for your craft?
3. BE RECOGNIZABLE (Establish a common theme for every aspect of your craft.)

Wrapping It All Up

1. Do your printed marketing materials convey your overall image?
2. Does your packaging presentation complement your overall image?

If you have not done so already, use these questions to create a brand building worksheet for yourself. Please feel free to review these previous posts for how I answered those questions and how this exercise helped me establish my retro beach image.

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CREATING A MISSION STATEMENT

A mission statement is simply a statement of the purpose of your business. A good mission statement will provide a path for the development of your business. So, if I were to create my mission statement, it may be something like this:

“I sell leather bracelets, sometimes necklaces, too.”

Ugh! Blah! Yawn! I think I need to look more carefully at this…a good mission statement should contain these components:

1. Key Market – who is your target customer?
2. Contribution – what do you provide?
2. Distinction – what makes it unique?

Ok, so how about this:

“I create boho beach chic jewelry to accessorize a free spirited lifestyle.”

Ahhh…much better, but does it stack up:

1. Key Market: beach lovers
2. Contribution: casual jewelry
3. Distinction: hand-crafted free-spirited designs

Remember, we are in the business of creating, so your mission statement should be creative as well. It is ok to imply, rather than spell out, your mission.

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GOAL SETTING

What should this business accomplish? Is your crafting business simply a hobby? Is it also a part-time source of income? Would you like to make it a more viable source of income? Three major factors to consider are 1. how much time you have to invest; 2. how much money you have to invest; 3. how will you position your business.

Serendipity Blu started out as a hobby, but I am currently developing it into a part-time source of income.

How much time do you realistically have?

Do you work 40 hours a week?
How demanding is your job?
Do you need to travel for your job?
What are your family responsibilities outside of work?

Are you a stay-at-home mom?
How many children do you have?
How old are your children?

All of these questions pose important scenarios when determining how much time you have to devote to your crafting. I work a full-time relatively demanding job. I am not married and I do not have any children, but I do regularly socialize with friends, travel, and attend concerts. I am fortunate that I do have quite a bit of free time, but I do not want to spend ALL of it on my business. There is this wonderful quote by Monty Python actor John Cleese, “If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” Many of my inspirations for designs or marketing concepts do arise from my unwind time. Since I consider my crafting business a part-time endeavor, I currently spend approximately 15-18 hours per week on it. I am willing to increase this time to 20-24 hours per week to prepare for a specific event.

How should you divide your time? There are several components to a crafting business: developing and researching your designs/materials; executing your designs into finished items, and marketing/networking of your business. I typically spend 3-5 hours per week on marketing and networking. This time includes internal marketing on Etsy, external marketing through this blog and on Pinterest, and developing new printed materials. Approximately one week a month, the balance of my time is spent on development. I take this time to read through my macrame books to find different design ideas, to create prototypes of the designs, to find just the right materials to accent the designs, and to research names for the designs. The other three weeks of the month are spent executing the designs into jewelry that I will be selling.

What is your financial budget for building your business?

I am fortunate that I have enough sales on my Etsy shop that it basically sustains itself. But since I am in the process of growing, rather than maintaining, my business, I am now in the precarious position of financing this growth. One thing I will NOT do, nor do I ever encourage readers to do, is to put more supplies on a credit card than you can pay off each month. That is just simply a recipe for financial disaster. Instead, I use a percentage of my DISPOSABLE monthly income. I define disposable income as income that is left over after all bills are paid, savings is set aside (for both retirement and long term goals), the car is filed with gas, and groceries are purchased. I also pay for concert tickets and save for vacations with this disposable income, so I am currently using about $100 per month on additional business supplies. I encourage everyone to also develop a budget worksheet to see how much you can realistically set aside each month for your business.

How will you position your business?

Is your craft business strictly online? Do you have both strong online sales and a craft show presence? Do you mainly sell at craft shows, but want an online venue for repeat sales? There is no right or wrong way to position your business, but It is important to determine this when you are setting your business goals.

I currently have just an online presence, but I plan to expand and sell at some craft shows this year. A good part of my financial budget is earmarked for buying enough materials to make a good surplus of jewelry to sell at these shows and and for purchasing display items.

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SMART GOALS

A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. To dissect further:

Specific: what precisely do you want to accomplish?
Measurable: what is the concrete criteria for measuring progress?
Attainable: is this goal realistic?
Relevant: why is this goal important?
Time-Bound: when does this goal need to be accomplished?

One of my business goals for this year is to increase my item listings on my Etsy shop to 100 by the end of the year. I plan to do this in steps: 50 items by spring; 75 by summer; 100 by the holidays.

Is this a SMART goal? Let’s check it against our criteria:

Specific: this goal precisely outlines the numbers I want to increase.
Measurable: this is a goal I can easily measure on Etsy
Attainable: I am increasing my inventory by 25 items every three months, or about 8 items per month. With the amount of time I have outlined for my business, this is a very realistic task to complete.
Relevant: this goal is pertinent to increasing my revenue – the more items my shop has, the more exposure it receives, and the potential for sales increases.
Time-Bound: this goal has distinct time limits for completion.

My other goal for this year is to participate in craft shows. This goal is rather vague; let’s see if we can turn it into a SMART goal:

Specific: I need to include specific number of shows to participate in this year.
Measurable: while vague, this is an easily measurable goal.
Attainable: I have to make certain I have the time and resources to prepare for the shows.
Relevant: while vague, this goal does focus on an important aspect of the crafting business; there is potential for increased revenue.
Time-Bound: I need to specify which times during the year I want to participate in each craft show.

This year, I plan to participate in 2 craft shows during the summer and 2 craft shows for the holiday season.

Thanks for stopping by and joining me on my continuing business planning journey. I hope that I have given you some concrete ideas for building YOUR business. Stay tuned for the last two posts in this series: Setting Up Shop and Marketing with Social Media.

Shanti,
~Erin

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