C&T Recommended Reads ~ Week 35, 2014

recommended reading week 35

From Megan:

From Jess:


SHIFT Registration Closes in Less than 24 Hours…





Are you driving your business aimlessly-

Hey Thriver!

It started as a hobby, and grew organically. But now, business is picking up, time is getting scarce, and you’re starting to realise that you don’t have a roadmap or a clear destination.

Where are you heading? How are you going to get there? Have you got the right stuff for your trip? And how are you going to tell people about your journey now that you have less and less time to devote to storytelling?

Join me and a fellow group of committed, passionate, enthusiastic, and supportive creative biz owners just like you for a 30 day virtual roadtrip of learning, planning, clarification, and motivation to help you focus on what matters, what works… and what you need to let go of.

Yes, time is almost up to register for the inaugural class of SHIFT!

Registration closes in less than 24 hours (there’s even a handy-dandy countdown timer on the site so you don’t miss the cut-off).

I know you might not be ready for SHIFT yet – if you’re just starting out or still running your business as a hobby – so if that’s you, never fear! The next class of Set Up Shop – which is written just for you – will be running in October, so keep an eye out for that.

But if you are ready – click here and join us on the journey.

See you in the car… (I call shotgun!)

Jess xx

Ask the Makers – How Did You Take Your Business Up a Gear?

Ask the Makers - gearing business

Lisa’s Answer:

This year, I created an If I Could Not Fail, I Would … list in which I listed all of the things I would do right now if I knew I could not fail. To be completely honest with you, I was only putting it out there to demonstrate how fun the blog topic was. But in response to the article, one of my previous clients said:

“You should do those things on your list even if you might fail at one or two.”

And she was absolutely right. In only a short few months, I’ve gone on to honor the deeper connection I was truly craving in that list by organizing a women’s creative retreat and focusing all of my efforts on group coaching dreamy clients.

After only a few adjustments in the focus of my career (inspired by the list), I’m not only doing the most meaningful work of my life, I’m also earning more than ever before.

Stacie’s Answer:

This has been a leveling year for my business. We have not seen the growth that we were hoping for, but are still profitable. It has been harder this year to grow our sales, but that means that we just have to get creative and begin approaching our business a bit differently.

Danielle’s Answer:

Because this year was sort of a whirlwind – and is just now settling down – I have been trying to foci my efforts on smaller things – like being more intentional about social media and things like that. So far it’s going pretty well – in the sense that I seem to be reaching more people – and I feel like things are improving. It was a simple idea but it’s not really my specialty so it’s a slow process for me. Still learning!

Megan’s Answer:

This year I decided to focus on wholesale to take my business up a gear. I wrote all about how I added 15 shops to my wholesale list last month. It’s been a real game-changer for my business and has enabled me to feel a lot more professional about my business.

Eleanor’s Answer:

This year I’m doing two and a half things, really. I’m finally upgrading my aging, breaking e-commerce platform, which I wrote about here: Proof of Concept Planning. It’s a painful, painstaking process which kind of requires almost everything else go on hold but really necessary. This process has forced me to do the second thing I’ve needed to do for awhile: hire help. Luckily I’ve dug deep into Odesk (If you want to know how I did it, you can find my post HERE.) and found some good people and I am just beginning to see what’s possible and wishing I’d done it sooner. The final ‘half’ thing I’ve done is switch to a project management/collaboration tool called Asana’, I was a Basecamp fan and advocate (and still do love a lot of the work and products from 37 signals) but Asana is pretty amazing and the free version is just about fully functional for a business of 15 or less people. You can read all about why I love Asana HERE.

What about you? How have you taken your business up a gear?

Why Pay for an E-Course When You Can Google the Information for Free?





Why Pay for an E-Course When You Can

Today I want to address a misconception about e-courses – and what you’re actually paying for when you buy one.

You and I have both heard people say it – heck, you might have said it yourself:

“Why would I pay for an e-course when I can just use Google to find the information I need for free?”

Why indeed?

I am the QUEEN of ‘Google it’. When I started making jewellery, and selling it, I had very little knowledge of how to do either.

Most of what I’ve learnt since then, I have learnt by doing that very thing – Googling it and figuring it out through trial and error. It’s a good way to learn.

It’s also a VERY SLOW way learn.

I have also done courses (e-courses and in-person courses). My core silversmithing knowledge came from doing a short course in-person that taught me the basics. I’ve attended conferences, bought books/e-books, asked questions of those further along the path than me.

My point is – Googling it is a perfectly valid way to learn – particularly when you’re just trying to solve one very small, focussed problem.

That said – it’s not the smartest way to learn. Why? Primarily, because you don’t know what you don’t know.

When you buy an e-course (or a book, or attend a workshop, etc) you are NOT just buying the content. You are not just paying for the information you will receive.

You are paying for four things: the content, the experience, saved time, and the expertise of your teacher.

Let’s talk a bit more about each.


The Content

This is what most people think they’re paying for – the content and nothing but the content. Wrong.

You are, of course, paying for the content. But you would be 100% correct in thinking that that very same content is absolutely available for free somewhere on the Internet. It is. Somewhere. In lots of different parts, phrased lots of different ways, from lots of different perspectives, in lots of different places.

It’s there, but YOU have to do the work of finding it, analysing it, trialling it to see if it actually works or is just rubbish, AND you might not even know what you’re looking for.

How can you learn something if you don’t even know you need to learn it?

Enter the other three things you are paying for if you buy an e-course.


The Experience

When I undertook my third degree – a Bachelor of Education (yes, I’m either indecisive or I REALLY like learning) I had to study externally because I was living in a remote country town.

I did all the work by myself. Reading books, reading lecture notes, doing assignments, sitting exams in a room all by myself in the local community centre.

By the time I finished that degree, yes, I was a qualified teacher. I had done the pracs (thank goodness – actual real learning on-the-job!) and passed all my assignments and exams. The content was no different to what I would have learnt being an on-campus student.

But I feel like that degree was a HUGE waste of money. Why? Because of the experience.

Comparing that to my previous degrees, where I was on-campus, working with my classmates, making friends, learning from my peers, having actual interaction with my teachers… there was an enormous chasm between the two experiences. I honestly wonder what I was paying the university for – someone to mark my exams and assignments? Because apart from that, and them posting me the readings I needed at the beginning of semester, that was pretty much all the interaction I had with the university.

The experience matters.

When you consider doing an e-course, look at the experience you’ll be getting. Does it allow you to interact with your classmates? How will the content be delivered? Do you get actual feedback from your teacher – can you ask questions?

Choose a course that gives you the experience you want, as well as the content you need.


Saved Time

Imagine – instead of spending years stumbling around in dark caves, trying to find your way to the treasure hidden deep within the mountain, someone came along and gave you a light and a map. Not only that – they’d reached the treasure in the past, so they offered to actually take the journey with you and show you exactly where the treasure lay. All they asked in return was one piece of gold from your haul.

Would you turn them away… or would you throw your arms around them in immense gratitude? Yeah, me too – take me to the treasure, thanks!!

The time they have saved you is without value. It’s immeasurable. Every minute of our lives is precious – and not just because ‘time is money’. That’s a misnomer. Time is LIFE, and when you spend money on something, you’re exchanging a little slice of your life for it.

The question to ask yourself when you’re considering exchanging a little bit of your life for an e-course is – “Will the time I SAVE down the road outweigh the time I SPEND right now?”

The answer to that question is heavily dependent on the last part of our value equation.


The Expertise of Your Teacher

This is possibly THE most important part of the equation.

Does your teacher have the knowledge and EXPERIENCE to teach you what you need to know in a way that you will find enjoyable, challenging, and truly useful?

This is where you really need to use your discretion. Because, as much as I, as a qualified and experienced teacher, HATE the phrase ‘those who can’t do, teach’ (ugh)… I have to also grudgingly admit that it’s sometimes true.

Especially online, where anyone can throw up an e-course and make any claims they like, with no qualifications or gatekeepers to ensure they’re telling the truth… you need to make sure that you really trust your teacher.

Do your due diligence. What qualifications do they have? What experience do they have? Have they actually successfully DONE what they are promising to teach you?

In short – do they really know their stuff? Does what they teach come from a place of hard-won experience? Do they have an insider’s perspective, or are they just regurgitating what they’ve learnt from others?

Think of it as a short apprenticeship. When you do an apprenticeship, you learn at the right hand of a master of their craft.

Is this person a master of their craft?

If they aren’t – go find someone who is. Someone who is generous, kind, positive, realistic, strong, and honest.

One small test for you to apply: if they tell you that achieving success will suddenly be guaranteed, fast, and/or easy if you just do their course – they’re lying.

Yes, it might help you learn vital information. It might give you invaluable insights. It might inspire you to reach new heights. It might save you a TON of time compared to working stuff out by yourself.

But you still have to apply what you learn. Success is in the application. YOU are the key.

You are the one who has to do the work. The hard, endless – but hopefully also awesome – work. No-one can give you a magic formula for success – because success looks different to everyone, and can be reached in so many different ways.

So – the next time you consider exchanging a bit of your life for an e-course, ask yourself: is the content something I need to learn, delivered in a time-saving format that will work for me, by someone who walks their talk?

If it is – buy that course and reap the benefits.

If it’s not – walk away and hold out for a course that ticks all your boxes.


If you want to get all these benefits, why not check out our courses? Set Up Shop if for those just getting started selling their craft online, and SHIFT is for those who’ve been in biz for a while, but need to take things up a gear.


Why You Should Start NOW (and Grow Your Business Organically)





Right Time


I was asked a question recently by reader Jenni-Ann, relating to the ‘right time’ to start building a website for her business. I said ‘yes, the right time is RIGHT NOW’.

I realised that the same can be said for your business in general.

So many people hang back from starting their new venture because they’re waiting for the ‘right time’.

Waiting for when they feel like they’re ready.

Waiting until they know everything they need to.

Waiting for their next holiday, when they’ll have more free time.

Waiting for their kids to be born/grow up/leave home.

Waiting until their spouse gets that promotion.

Waiting, waiting. Always waiting.

And they wait for their entire lives, and their dream never moves from their minds into the outside world.

I know every single person reading this has a dream that they want to make tangible reality.

There is truth in the adage that ‘you can do anything, but not everything’.

However, don’t get tripped up by the idea that to start something – to start a creative business – you need to be at a certain ‘level’.

You don’t.

All you need is an idea. Then, you need to put it out into the world, in whatever form it’s in right now, and let it grow.

It’s just like planting a seed. You don’t plant an acorn and expect it to be an oak when you wake up tomorrow, do you?

Of course not.

Your business is just like that.

You have an idea – a seed – but until you plant it, it will never grow.

You can keep it safe – your seed idea – in a jar in the back of your cupboard. Sure, it will stay there, and it will stay viable. But so long as you keep it in the jar, it will never have the chance to bloom into what it could be.


Plant it and let it grow.


Let it stretch and branch and form organically into what it can be. There is no ‘right’ way for branches to form on a tree. They form according to the conditions that they grow in.

Your business will grow according to the conditions it encounters.

A tree is never finished growing.  Neither is a business.

It will never be done or finished.

Therefore, it is impossible for your business to be ‘perfect’ – ever.

If you’re waiting until your business is perfect in conception before you test it against reality, you will never launch it. {click to tweet}

No tree is ever perfect. Neither is any business.

A business is not a static thing. It is alive. It is always growing, changing, evolving, bending, breaking, healing.

You will never know everything you need to know to make your business successful. But you can always learn. You can always experiment. You can always apologise. You can always try again. You can always move in a new direction.

You can – and will – always grow.


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