[132] How to Have an Effective Monthly Planning Day (Premium Episode)

 

Do you ever feel like you get ‘stuck’ in the day-to-day of your business?

Do you find time has gone by, and you wonder ‘what have I achieved’ today… this week… this month… or even, this year?

This often comes about because we get caught up in the urgent tasks in our business – filling orders, answering emails – and neglect the important long-term planning and business development that actually moves our business forward.

By having a set time, at least once a month (or, if you can’t manage that, then every quarter) to purely focus on long-term goals, priorities, and planning, you should see a marked increase in your business momentum, and in how accomplished you feel!

In this members-only episode, I outline my advice on how to have an effective planning day. One that will not only be super-effective, but also, super-enjoyable!

Listen to the Intro:

 

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[54] 5 Ways to Increase Your Profits

Ep 54 - Create & Thrive Podcast

You could be eating away at your profits without even realising it. However, there are lots of ways you can make little tweaks to your handmade business in order to increase your profit margin.

I ran a week-long free course a few years back on this topic, and I thought it was time to bring these ideas to you in the podcast.

By following these five steps you will be able to cut out wasted time, reduce your expenses, and therefore increase your profit margin.

For more detail on each point, the links to the course lessons are in the show notes below.

If you have any other ideas for ways that we as makers can cut expenses and increase our profit margins – while still maintaining the integrity of our business – please share them below!

 

Ep 54 quote - Jess

 

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • 1. Streamline and organise
  • Disorganisation will eat into your profits.
  • Decrease the time spent to make the same amount of money by being streamlined in your work practices.
  • This includes organisation of your digital life.
  • Work out what you can do today to become more streamlined and organised.
  • Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas to create a more organised space.
  • 2. Plan your packaging.
  • ‘Packaging can put a huge dent into your profits.’ {Jess}
  • You need to make sure you account for your packaging costs in the cost of your postage or the item itself.
  • Make sure you always have what you need on hand and try and buy in bulk.
  • Don’t forget to add in the time it takes to package the item.
  • 3. Do your calculations and price your work properly.
  • ‘You don’t want to be leaving money on the table.’ {Jess}
  • It is important to get realistic about how much it is costing you to make your products.
  • You need to cover the time you spend marketing and planning not just making.
  • 4. Can you make it reproducible?
  • This is especially important when selling work online.
  • Can you recreate your item?
  • If you can it will increase your production capacity saving time on each item.
  • These items can then become your bread and butter range.
  • Make sure you keep detailed notes so you can easily reproduce work.
  • Think about minimising materials used across your product range.
  • 5. Buy in wholesale or buy in bulk.
  • This will usually involve planning ahead.
  • Do your research, are there things you can cut out?
  • ‘We always have to place our creative and business integrity above our profit margins.’ {Jess}
  • Only you can decide where you can reduce expenses and save money.

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

[53] Why You Need to Find Your Micro-Niche

Ep 53 - Create & Thrive Podcast

Your micro-niche is your super-speciality. It is the one product (or product line) that defines your business – and the one that makes you recognisable amongst your competitors.

We all begin creating because we love it – but taking that step from making for fun to making to sell changes the playing field completely.

We can’t make everything we want to all the time – we need to try and find a micro-niche. Something people want that you make really well. Something specific, that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Once you discover this micro-niche you, will find it much easier to run a profitable business.

If you are yet to find your micro-niche or are yet to consider this idea – take a listen to this podcast for ideas on how to find your own micro-niche.

 

Ep 53 quote - Jess

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • The key point here is the moment when you change from doing craft for fun to trying to sell it.
  • This ‘When parents find out their daughter makes jewelry‘ video made me laugh – I appreciate the satire, because as much as I value what I do (and what all artisans do) there is an element of truth in it.
  • ‘Growing a business is hard work, it will take a long time and you have to be patient.’ {Jess}
  • You need to get more specific with what you are making, you need to find your micro-niche.
  • ‘You want to be the master of one specific type of thing.’ {Jess}
  • Look to successful people and think about what they make. Do they have a micro-niche?
  • When you find your micro-niche you will be able to define your target market.
  • ‘Constraints are a beautiful thing when it comes to creativity.’ {Jess}
  • You are more likely to become successful with a small group of people than with everyone.
  • Remember that less is more.
  • You may have to give some stuff up – and that is ok.
  • Your micro-niche may be a theme rather than a product.
  • So, how do you figure out what your micro-niche is?
  • 1. Follow the market – what are your best sellers and why? Don’t be afraid to ask your community.
  • 2. Consider your niche market. Who are they?
  • 3. Do some research and see what your competitors are doing right and wrong.
  • ‘Your brand story is going to be incredibly powerful here.’ {Jess}
  • Finding your micro-niche may mean you need to change things, re-organise or drop products.
  • If you don’t have a micro-niche it will be incredibly hard to have a profitable business.
  • Finish this sentence: “I am the person who sells…”
  • ‘Be the one that people think of.’ {Jess}

 

Download or Listen to This Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create & Thrive’.)

How to Overcome a Creative Block

Creative Block

 

We all know how hard it can be to switch on our creativity when we have so many things to think about in our daily lives.

And I’m not just talking about the business side of what we do. Rarely are any of us simply running a creative business: we are also parents, siblings, friends, employees or carers – not to mention regular, relentless day-to-day chores.

Creative block can often be caused by too much workload, stress, or simply lack of motivation.

 

Here are a few simple techniques to help you conquer creative block.

 

Do something completely different – Maybe if the creative juices aren’t flowing then you just need to trake a step back and do something completely different.

Go for a walk, cook up a feast, do some non-creative business work or even go play paintball!

Your brain may need a little rest so it is important to grant that when needed. Make sure you keep it guilt-free though – you have to actually switch off.

 

Learn to work when you aren’t feeling inspired – Sometimes just going through the motions is all we need to get things kick-started.

It’s kind of like exercis – we may not love the thought of it, but once we are out there for that jog we actually do enjoy it! (Sometimes!)

So head to your workspace and just start. Pick up whatever you are working on, set yourself a short time frame to avoid frustration, and more likely than not you will be back in the swing of things before you know it.

 

Embrace block as part of the process – I don’t actually know a single creative person who hasn’t faced creative block.

Keep in mind that is is part of what you do. Knowing its there, knowing how to best deal with it, and being aware that it will pass can actually help clear the block quicker. If there are tears, who cares? Make a cup of tea, take some time out and just know it is part of the process.

We all knew when starting our creative business that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. This quote sums it up perfectly!

 

Lotta quote

 

Let your imagination run wild – Do something for you. Make art. Scribble, experiment, make mess, involve friends or the kids and just have a good old silly time!

This is like a day out for your creativity. Feed it what it needs so that it can continue to grow and flourish.

 

Talk about it – Open up about how you are feeling.

Find someone willing to sit and listen, write it down, or even talk to it. Yes that’s right, talk to your creativity block!

Why is it there? What is stopping you from being your incredible wonderful creative self that you know is there? Ask these questions out loud or on paper and then answer them.

It may sound a little silly but it may just help you find your block and begin the process of removing it.

 

Whatever you decide to do don’t let a creative block get the best of you.

 

We all know we can work through it. It could take hours or it could take days, even longer in some instances!

Look back at previous blocks to learn from the past, be aware of when you are in a creative block so you can deal with it effectively, and prepare for future blocks by staying strong and keeping positive.

You’ve got this!

 

Your Creative Business will Always be a Work in Progress

work in progress

 

This whole running a creative business thing sometimes feels like a never-ending work in progress… that we’re never ‘finished’. But is this a bad thing?

Let me give you a little tip.

You will never finish.

You will never be done and you will never reach perfection.

But this is ok! It is more than ok because no one ever does. You, your life, relationships and your creative biz are all works in progress.

It really is all about the journey. This is why you need to enjoy every moment of your creative career. The downs are as important as the ups and the goals once reached will leave the space for more goals.

Your biz is forever evolving and this is a wonderful part of being your own boss. Watching your business grow and evolve is rewarding.

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to this evolution in order to truly embrace and understand the rewards of your business.

 

1. Reflection

Take a moment to remember when you first started.

Did you really think you would be where you are now? Are you surprised by what you have achieved? I certainly hope you are.

It is so easy to get caught up in the every day challenges that we face as creative business owners that we forget to stand back and really check our progress.

 

2. Exploration

You are not lost. You are never lost. You are exploring, discovering and learning.

If you find yourself somewhere unexpected or unplanned it means you are forging a new and exciting track in your business. This is an important idea to remember. Walk forward with confidence and trust the natural path your creative business leads you on.

 

ceramics

 

3. Expectation

There is a constant pressure felt by creative people to please others.

You obviously want to please people. Your family, friends and customers are all very important – but you need to remember you are doing this for yourself.

Expectation can sometimes be a burden. If at any point you feel you cannot deliver as expected you need to be honest with yourself. Your life is here to be lived by you. If you need a holiday, take it. If you don’t want to undertake a commission, don’t. You need your business to work for you and not the other way around.

Use your brain here to weigh up options instead of becoming a slave to the expectations of others.

 

4. Possibility

As a creative business owner you will have a mind buzzing with ideas.

A whole bunch of possibilities will be there, always.

This is a wonderful thing! You can choose which possibilities to make realities, which ones to discard, and which ones to hold on to for later.

Do not try and do everything at once – but know you have the freedom to work with all possibilities and you have the ability to create more along the way.

 

advanture

 

If you write a list of everything you need to do to succeed in your creative biz, and you ticked them off one by one until you got to the end would you have a perfect business?

No. By the time you finish that list there would be an entirely new list!

It may be more precise, it may be more thorough but it still won’t get you to the finish line. Just ticking off tasks is no way to enjoy your business.

Love what you do as you do it – not just when you finish – and you will forever be content.