Products. Bookkeeping. Income. Growth. There’s so much to learn about starting and running your business. We’ve noticed that finding resources for running a handmade shop are hard to come by. General ideas and concepts apply to most businesses, but we both know there is a uniqueness to running a handmade shop.
(Check out our recent blog post "The $100-Startup" for inspirational handmade business startup tips!)
We definitely don't know everything there is to know, but wanted to share some of the concepts and principles that we’ve found helpful over the years. Starting up a handmade shop is one thing. Developing and growing a handmade shop is an entirely different challenge. Read all about the difficulties we faced when first starting up here!
The one thing we have found consistently helpful is having clear and manageable goals and aspirations for our business. Knowing what you want to do, where you want it to go and why all of that is important to you is KEY to propelling your business forward. If there’s no vision, there’s nothing to aim for.
1. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
Do you know what your ‘why’ is? Why are you doing this business? Why are you pouring your efforts into it? What do you want? What do you want to work on? Are your personal goals wrapped into your business (eg. More time for vacation? More financial freedom?) Are your goals financial (eg. I want to make X amount of money for a yearly income?) Do you have a mix of short term goals and long term goals?
Take a moment and define your ‘why’.
What do you imagine your business being like?
Once you’ve been able to dream your dreams for your business, write them out.
Your list will be a mix of large and small goals. Get them all out on paper.
Some goals will be specific for your day to day. Some goals will be large and ‘lofty’. Having a mix of attainable goals and dreams will give your vision for your business substance. For example: goals can be daily items (making sure you tidy up your workspace everyday, for example), or they can be yearly focuses (securing 3 more regular clients, for example).
Take your list of goals and label them as yearly, monthly, weekly, or daily goals. Try to make your goals as specific as possible - vague goals never work.
2. BREAK IT DOWN AND MAKE A ROAD MAP
A neat quote we find sums this point up is: “The difference between a goal and a dream is a plan.”
Once you’ve got all your goals written, you’ll want to look at them one by one to define how you’ll get there - your plan or road map. Take your goal and start to figure out the steps you’ll need to take to achieve it. Will you need time? Money? Additional help? Can you tell if your goal is something you’ll work at yearly, monthly, weekly or daily?
For example, say your goal is to grow your Instagram following. In order to do that, you need to focus on what you post and the frequency of it. You may need to start with planning your content a bit more. You may need to make more time to come up with better content. You may want to take a small course on social media basics to understand your surroundings a bit more. You may need to spend more time looking at similar successful social media feeds and learn from their example.
Breaking down your goal into bite size pieces makes the goal much more attainable, and gives you the ability to see how you’ll go from A to B. Bite size pieces have helped us from getting bogged down and overwhelmed.
3. ACTION ITEMS & SCHEDULING
You have your ‘why’. You’ve defined how you think you’ll get there. Now you need action items! If you’ve ever been in a meeting with someone recording Action Items you may roll your eyes, but it's such a helpful system!
This can be as simple as taking your ‘bite size pieces’ and one by one, crossing them off. Action items give you something to follow. If we continued our example of growing an Instagram feed, we would have a plan that looked like this:
Goal: Growing Instagram following by 500 likes by September.
Map to get there: I need to be posting more regular & interesting content, probably 2-3x a week.
Action Item 1: Create 3 posts for this week today.
Action Item 2: Brainstorm 5 ideas for next week's content, and 8 future ideas for the upcoming weeks/months.
Action Item 3: Schedule a date/time in early August to review my stats & analytics to see if my efforts are starting to produce the original goal of 500 likes by September (measurability: 200 likes so far by early August)
Action Items give you the tangible thing that you need to do. They keep you accountable and give you direction. Make sure that you stick to your plans, but be prepared to be flexible. If you have too many Action Items, you’ll get overwhelmed with your list and get nothing done. If you have too little, you won’t accomplish anything. Find a balance that works for you and your business.
“Be productive, not busy.” This one was huge for us!
4. REVIEW, REVIEW, REVIEW.
If you noticed in our last point, Action Item #3 was about reviewing progress. In order to keep your goals fresh in your mind, be consistent in reviewing/measuring your goals! This keeps them fresh and hopefully will help keep you from forgetting them.
Make a point of reviewing your goals weekly at a set time. If you can keep your goals top of mind, it transforms how you do the simple day to day tasks you have.
Make an appointment with yourself if finding time is hard. Use tools like planners, notifications, time trackers, journals, an accountability partner - whatever works best for you. We have weekly and monthly team meetings that review our day to day and larger yearly goals. It’s made such a difference to our productivity as a team!
If you can be intentional with your goals, your day to day efforts will add up to those big changes.
We get that running a business can be overwhelming at times, but setting goals & making plans can help alleviate that feeling! Taking the time to figure out your why, defining how you’ll get there, and actioning those goals will give you practical direction. Your business will start to reflect you and what you want out of it more and more.
We love our maker community and know each handmade shop has developed their own amazing systems to help with managing business and family, growth and new ideas. Be inspired by this incredible maker at "The Baby Niche" as she talks a little bit about her experience growing her handmade shop!
And don't forget to share any helpful advice that has been important to you in the comments below!