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Stop Trying to Do Everything

 

 

 

When you’re trying to grow a business, the temptation is to jump in and try to do everything you possibly can to make it a success. All at the same time.

  • You set yourself up on as many online venues as possible.
  • You attend as many markets as possible.
  • You try to get your work into as many shops as possible.
  • You try to blog every day.
  • You try to use a mailing list, twitter, instagram, facebook, pinterest, google +, tumblr etc etc all at once to market your biz.
  • You try to get your work featured by bloggers, in magazines, newspapers… maybe even on TV!
  • You are constantly making, photographing, and uploading new designs.
  • You work yourself ragged trying to maintain that 2-day turnaround on orders.
  • You try to do all this and run some semblance of a regular life outside of your work, too.

 

I’m telling you right now – from a place of hindsight - you need to stop.

Stop trying to do it all at once – because all you’re doing is setting yourself up for burnout. And if you reach that point? You risk giving it all up because you now hate what you once loved.

Yes – especially when you start out – you will be working like mad. This is okay… for a little while.

Life is about ebbs and flows, and there will always be times when you have to put in extra time and effort because a time-sensitive opportunity is looming. That’s okay… but it needs to be balanced by time when things are going smoothly, easily, and you have a bit more room to breathe.

I’ve said it time and time again – business is a marathon, not a sprint. If you sprint too much during the marathon, you’re going to collapse before you reach the end.

You MUST start thinking long-term if you want a sustainable, profitable business. {click to tweet}

You need to learn patience.

It’s okay to not do it all – all at once.

This doesn’t mean you should get lazy – it means you should get strategic.

I’ll bring your attention to the Pareto Principle – or the 80/20 principle. One interpretation of this principle is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort.

The trick is figuring out which 20% is working, and doing more of that!

This comes down to a few things: not only looking at stats and customer info to work out where your customers are actually coming from, but also thinking about what you enjoy about your business, and doing more of that (and less of what you don’t). Sure, there will always be boring stuff that we just have to do, but there are also lots of ways to delegate that stuff to other people. This might not be possible at the beginning, but you WILL reach a bottleneck eventually where it’s either delegate or implode under the strain.

There is NO WAY I could run Epheriell and Create & Thrive as they are now without help. No way.

Sure, when I started out, I did everything myself. And that was fine… when I was only getting a few sales a week. Once you start getting a few sales a DAY, things get a little harder.

I used to blog every day over on my old blog Epheriell Designs. I loved it… and it was wonderful while it lasted. It allowed me to build my reputation, connect with people, and have fun with my work. I was very sad when I had to let that routine go – but it was also freeing. I let it go because I was busy doing other, more strategic things.

I sometimes beat myself up because I’m not doing more PR… but then I realise I’m not doing more PR because I’m already too busy filling orders to do PR… and isn’t the point of PR to get more orders? If I’ve already go the orders, something is already working!

That said… once you attain some modicum of success, you need to ensure you don’t get so lazy with marketing that you give it up altogether because you’re too busy filling orders. If you do this, you risk everything falling apart if the current source of your orders dries up – you need to have multiple irons in the fire. The trick is picking the right irons – and not having too many.

Doing one thing really, exceptionally well is better than doing ten things in a mediocre fashion. {click to tweet}

Pick the one or two things in each area of your business that you both enjoy and do well. Then focus on those for a while – maybe 6 months or so.

Focus on growing instagram and your mailing list.

Focus on designing and launching that new collection – and accept the fact that this means your order turn-around time has to lengthen.

Focus on connecting with bloggers, and forget about magazines for now.

Focus on that one, high-end market, rather than trying to do 12 of them. Ditto for shops.

You get the idea.

 

As you grow, you need to get more and more strategic with your time. You need to work out time management strategies that minimise ‘busy’ work and procrastination. You need to start letting go of some things – whether that be just completely letting go, or delegating to assistants. You need to get smart about which parts of your work are actually building your business, and which parts you’re just doing because you think you should.

Stop trying to do everything – and start yourself on the path to thriving instead of just surviving.

 

Image source: Unsplash


Feeling snowed under and overwhelmed? Join us for my new e-course SHIFT: a 30 day journey to take your biz from where it is to where you want to be – including a whole week of lessons on time management strategies. Class starts September 1st. Register here.

SHIFT Registration is Open Now!

 

 

 

 

 

Registration is now OPEN for the very first class of SHIFT – my new e-course for creative business owners.

 

*Pops party poppers, cheers, lights a sparkler…*

 

I am SO excited to finally be getting this course out into the world! The idea for it came mid-last year when I’d run the first session of Set Up Shop. The feedback from students was so positive – they loved the course content and the delivery structure and especially the Facebook group with daily promps. After that course finished, some got in touch to ask me ‘what’s next’?

Well, I know it’s been a while, but SHIFT is ‘what’s next’.

Honestly, the idea for a ‘follow-up’ style course to Set Up Shop – a course for those who are past the ‘beginner’ stage and are more in the ‘intermediate’ stage of business – has been percolating for a long time. But, I had so many things I wanted to address – not to mention this last year has been the best ever for Epheriell, which has kept Nick and I pretty darn busy – that I just couldn’t grasp exactly what I wanted to offer and how to bring it all together.

For me, a course has to have a name, a concept, before I can move forward with it. So, when the word ‘shift’ popped into my head a few months back, I could have shouted ‘eureka!’.

From there, the concept of shifting gears – and hence, a virtual road trip – came into being, and the course rapidly formed itself in my brain.

SHIFT is a course for those who are already well and truly on the road to business success.

You’ve got the business, you’ve got the basics sorted: you’ve made some sales, connected with customers, worked hard to get to where you are. You’re already convinced that you CAN make it happen – but you feel a little stagnant, a little lost, a little overwhelmed.

You’re not quite sure that that your car is on the right road, heading to the right destination. You’re not sure which route to take – or which highlights to stop at on the way.

You know you can’t do and see everything on your journey – so you need help working through the process of getting clear on which sights are the right ones for you, and how to fit them into your schedule.

Heck, honestly, you might not even be sure you’ve got the right car for the trip!

 

SHIFT will help you with all this and more.

It’s broken up into 4 weeks of lessons that take you through 4 aspects of your business.

 

Week 1: The Road Map – Where you’re going.

We focus on the ‘bigger picture’ – things like your core values, business/brand story, niche clarification, and business planning.

 

Week 2: Packing the Car – Have you got the right stuff for your trip?

We look at the nitty-gritty details of your business – do you have the right products/branding/copy/tools/pricing/etc. in place to move in the right direction and tell your story clearly to reach your ideal customers?

 

Week 3: The Trip Plan – How are you going to spend your time?

This week’s all about time management. Do you have the right systems/processes/support structure in place to maintain and grow your business the way you want to?

 

Week 4: The Slideshow – How are you going to tell your story to those who want to hear it?

Marketing is what this week is all about. By this point, you’ve crystallised your story, revamped your time management, gotten the details right – so it’s time to get the word out in an intelligent, non-time-wasting and targeted fashion. We’re focussing on customer communication, PR, visual marketing, and giveaways with a lesson devoted to using Instagram strategically.

 

For more of a breakdown of the course, head to the course page here.

SHIFT is specifically geared for handmade business owners who sell primarily online. Alternatively, you do at least sell online, even if you focus on wholesale or markets. It will also be valuable for artists, designers, vintage sellers, OR those who have a creative service-based business.

Early bird registrations – those who sign up within the first 24 hours – also get a bonus – a copy of the ‘Break it Down: Get it Done’ business worksheets by Elle Roberts of Studio Exsto (who is one of the guest teachers in the course). These worksheets aim to help you break down big tasks into small, manageable steps to ensure you get them done.

 

To register for the September class, click here.

 

Registration is open now, and closes Sunday the 31st of August at 9am AEST. (That’s Saturday night for those of you in the States + Canada.) The course kicks off September first and runs for the whole 30 days of the month.

 

If you’re joining us – see you in the course!

Jess xx

P.S. Past Set Up Shop students – make sure to check the SuS Facebook group before you buy! 

P.P.S. If you have any questions about the course, I’m going to be holding a live Q&A chat on Google Hangouts on Wednesday 11am AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). I’ll be there for half an hour answering any questions you have about the course.

If you can’t make it at that time, please just leave any questions you have in the comments below, and I’ll endeavour to answer them for you.

Success Stories ~ The Card Gallery

This month I’m so excited to share an interview with Lisa, the founder of The Card Gallery. Her business recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and her team is now up to 8! Lisa’s interview acts as a wonderful piece of inspiration and advice for makers at every stage of their business.

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

My career began in the travel industry, a world away from wedding stationery but offered invaluable learning. I was fortunate and gained lots of experience working for large organisations in all different areas of business including marketing, product buying, commercial, customer services and operations. I completed a Masters of Business Administration along the way and so built up lots of transferable skills and knowledge. I’d always enjoyed crafting but had never realised that I could turn it into a business. When my husband and I were planning our wedding, I found the wedding stationery aspect to be very expensive and it wasn’t exactly what I had wanted in terms of design – the idea of a card based business was born and the rest as they say is history. I formed The Card Gallery in 2004, initially doing everything from meeting with customers, designing the wedding stationery, to making it, answering all queries and delivering it – there’s now a team of 8 of us and 2 websites, www.thecardgallery.co.uk which offers stationery for all occasions and www.treeofhearts.co.uk which specialises purely in wedding stationery.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

In 2012 we were affected by changes Google made to its algorithm, meaning that our online search rankings dropped from high, first page positions on Google to much lower positions and overnight our business dropped drastically. Being an online based business this was a massive challenge, but over the past 2 years we’ve improved our rankings and diversified into new markets and new distribution channels.

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

There have been lots of high moments but I have to say the biggest was this summer when we celebrated The Card Gallery’s 10th birthday – it was such a sense of achievement that we’d survived and were still going strong.

Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

We have lots of contact with our customers via phone and email – some websites appear as though they don’t want you to contact them but we’re quite the opposite. Planning a wedding or big event is a special occasion and we want to make sure customers are offered all the advice they need. This level of contact helps keep us in touch with our target market and we use the feedback and questions to help navigate our creative direction. In terms of things we’re yearning to do…there is always a very long list! And I guess there always will be as there are always so many new designs and products that we would like to add, but at the same time too much choice for customers can sometimes be a bad thing so we have to reign in our creativity!

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

There are times when our creativity wains but normally a pack of chocolate biscuits does the trick…there are always too many goodies floating around the office.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

In the early days of The Card Gallery I would work full days, late nights and weekends – I started the business from scratch and figured that the effort I put in would hopefully result in a growing business. As time has gone on I’ve tried to balance work and the rest of life a little more evenly. I now have 2 small children so life is always busy but I’ve a great team around me and a very supportive husband, without them all I’m not sure that I would be able to keep an even balance. There are days when the juggle isn’t so smooth and ultimately this results in me working late at night or at weekends but I try to keep this to a minimum.

What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Adding our second website, www.treeofhearts.co.uk – initially we were unsure if our websites would compete too much with each other but Tree of Hearts gave us a greater freedom to try different card types, designs and products which didn’t quite fit with The Card Gallery brand.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

To act quickly. Tastes and fashions change and being a small business you have a greater ability to react to these changes than your competitors.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

I hope that we are in a similar place, offering lots of lovely stationery designs to lots of happy customers. Technology will undoubtedly play a massive role in our future and our websites will have to become even slicker, but I hope that our customer service continues to be at the forefront of our business.

You can find Lisa’s work online at:

Her websites: The Card Gallery and Tree of Hearts

On Facebook: The Card Gallery

On Twitter: @thecardgallery1

 

Winners of #WinSHIFT!

 

 

 

 

SHIFT opens up for registration tomorrow… but before we kick off, it’s time to announce the winners of the #WinSHIFT competition!

 

*Drumroll*

 

And the winners are:

Silver Membership – Jelaine of Little Alligator

Gold Membership – Emmaline of CocoPress

Congratulations ladies! I’ll be in touch soon to organise your course places.

 

To everyone who entered – THANK YOU for sharing your stories, your struggles, and for sharing the post far and wide on social media. It takes courage to open up about what we’re struggling with in our businesses, but it also helps to be challenged to think about what you want to change – because recognising you need change is the first step in making it happen.

For those of you who are going to take SHIFT and join me in making BIG changes in September – I’m already proud of you for investing in yourself and your business, and chasing what you want. I hope what I have to teach you – the journey I’m going to guide you on – will be a huge catalyst for you.

 

Registration opens tomorrow morning at 9am AEST right here.

 

If you have any questions about the course, I’m going to be holding a live Q&A chat on Google Hangouts on Wednesday 11am AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). I’ll be there for half an hour answering any questions you have about the course.

If you can’t make it at that time, please just leave any questions you have in the comments below, and I’ll endeavour to answer them for you.

Jess xx

C&T Recommended Reads ~ Week 34, 2014

Megan’s Finds:

Jess’s Finds:

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