[19] The Right Time to Start is Now

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 19

When is the right time to start your business?

Is it when you’ve got it all figured out? A rock-solid plan? A good chunk of money to invest? The perfect product? The perfect time?

No. None of the above.

When I think about timing, I think about archery. Did you know I practice archery? (I favour shooting longbow and barebow, for fellow archers who might be reading.)

When you draw your bow and line up your shot, there is always the chance that you’ll let go too soon… but equally, you can hold on for too long before letting the arrow fly.

Ideally, with each draw you’ll find the sweet spot where you aim and let go of the string – trusting that first moment where your body and mind whisper ‘yes’ – and that your arrow will fly true. If you hold on too long, you start to struggle and second-guess yourself – and this is often when the shot goes wrong.

There’s a moment in your gut when you feel like the timing is right – and it’s so similar to the feeling you’ll get when the right time to start your business appears.

It might feel too soon. You might not feel truly ready. But deep down, in your gut, you’ll know it’s time to just let go of the string and launch your business out into the world.

 

Plant an oak tree

Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • So many people are waiting for everything to be perfect before they start.
  • You need to move your idea from the dream space and make it into a tangible reality in the world.
  • There is truth to the adage ‘You can do anything but not everything.’
  • Don’t get tripped up by the idea that you need to be at a certain level of expertise to start.
  • You just need an idea – then put it out into the world in whatever form it’s in right now and let it grow.
  • “You don’t plant an acorn and expect it to be an oak tree tomorrow.”
  • You can keep your seed in a jar in the back of the cupboard and it will still stay viable but it will not grow.
  • A tree never stops growing and neither does a business.
  • “It’s impossible for your business to be perfect – ever.”
  • If you’re being held back because you think you don’t have enough knowledge or haven’t done enough planning – you have.
  • You’ll never know everything but you can always learn.
  • You can always experiment, apologise if something is wrong and you can always go in a new direction.
  • All you need to start your business is a product – something you can put up for sale.
  • Everything else is part of the process of evolving and growing your business but testing your product in the market is the first step.
  • You always have time to change, grow and adapt your product after you have feedback from your customers.
  • Feedback may send you in a new direction and it might be in a direction that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.
  • Your business will be shaped by the environment and the feedback you receive.
  • Sales are a form of feedback on your business.
  • Putting your name out there to your family and friends can often be the scariest part of the process.
  • “Since I was a teenager I had the dream of making money from an internet business but I had no idea how to do that!”
  • You have the joy you feel while you’re making your products – and then sales are an added bonus whilst you’re starting your business.
  • “If you put your work out into the world and nobody buys, is that the worst thing that could happen in life?”
  • It’s a reasonable fear that people might not buy from you and that’s OK to feel that fear. Do it anyway.
  • There are things you can work on to tweak and improve on after you’ve got that feedback but until you put it ‘out there’, you’ll never know.
  • You have nothing to lose from trying.
  • You can always start again with something new.
  • There’s always something new that you’re thinking about, no matter what stage your business is at – put it out there and see what happens.

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What dream are you going to make into a reality?

Answer the challenge I pose in this episode below!

[18] Five Mistakes You’re Making With Your Etsy Shop and How To Fix Them

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 18

After working with hundreds of makers over the last few years, I regularly see people making the same mistakes in their Etsy shops over and over again.

In this episode, I share the top 5 mistakes I see people making with their online shops. I’m focussing on Etsy today, but honestly, these issues crop up no matter what online venue you are using – so even if you’re selling somewhere other than Etsy, you will benefit from this episode.

Today I share some really vital things which you can quickly and easily change right now to make your online shop more professional and encourage customers to purchase from you. Other issues I touch on might take some time to get it right, but it’s important to start on these now so you can add to your skills

I hope you don’t recognise these mistakes in your shop – but if you do, at least you now know what you need to work on to make it better!

Your shop will never be perfect: but you can always improve and be the best you can be.

Are you making any of these 5 mistakes with your Etsy shop?

 

Good Policies

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Quotes and highlights from this Episode:

  • “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at somebody’s store and they would have maybe 5-10 items. I can tell you immediately that this will be a turn off for people. They won’t take your seriously if you don’t have a well-stocked shop.”
  • If you have high priced or artist pieces, you might be able to get away with less products.
  • With Etsy, you should have 25+ products which will give you more than one page of products.
  • You want your shop to look full and that you’re serious about business.
  • But you also don’t want to have too much choice.
  • 100 products is said to be the magic number on Etsy but don’t panic if that’s out of the realm of possibility for you.
  • Grow your items slowly but surely until you have a good selection but don’t go the other way and have too many products.
  • “I ended up having too many with 400+ items and I had a lot of older ones which I made the decision to narrow my brand and took a bunch of them down. My business has grown more since then than ever before.”
  • Don’t be afraid to get rid of things that aren’t working.
  • Don’t use flash photography as it looks awful and makes harsh shadows nor does it to any products any favours.
  • A bit of styling is OK but don’t clutter the image.
  • Dial back your styling until your product is the star of the photo.
  • If your item blends into the photo, it’s too cluttered.
  • Taking photos freehand will definitely give you blurry photos sometimes.
  • On the camera screen it might look fine but if you blow them up on your computer screen and they aren’t sharp, redo them.
  • “I’ve made all these mistakes which is why I can talk about them. But I’ve learnt a lot since then and I’ve come a long way.”
  • It will take trial and error – you can do it, it just takes time.
  • Filtered or ambient light is best.
  • Before you work on your marketing, spend time on your photos and getting them right.
  • It’s important that people can see who you are especially with resellers and big companies infiltrating the market.
  • Show behind the scenes photos to show social proof that you brand is genuinely handmade.
  • Customers can separate your quality from all the rubbish that is out there.
  • It’s important with connecting with your ideal customer.
  • Be genuine and warm and tell them why you make what you make and why they’ll love it.
  • If you don’t have Policies or a FAQ in place, make that a priority.
  • It will make dealing with issues really easy since you will have a policy to refer them to.
  • Customers can know before they buy what your policies are and can make an informed decision to buy.
  • “Good policies will nip a problem in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.”
  • There’s lots of great examples out there and see which ones are clear and especially in your specific niche.
  • Descriptions help you convince your customer to buy.
  • Most of the time you want to tell customers that you have what they need and the detail in your descriptions will do that for you.
  • People are inherently lazy and want to know all the answers to their questions upfront so describe the item as if they can’t even see it.
  • Benefits and Features are the most important aspects of your product so figure them out first.
  • What is the emotion attached to the item? Include that story in the description.

 

[17] Should You Sell Your Craft Online?

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 17

In today’s episode, I’m going to take you through a workshop that will help you decide whether you should sell your craft online.

You might find that you prefer to sell via wholesale or consignment in shops, or at markets –  or maybe you can do a mixture of all three.

I love selling online; it suits me and my lifestyle.

Why? Well, amongst other things, I like to have my weekends off – and I especially love the idea of making money in my sleep!

No matter what, you need to have a website and a couple of social media channels but that doesn’t mean you have to sell your products online if that isn’t a good fit for you and your particular product.

Listen in and think about each of the points below to see whether selling online is a good fit for your business.

  1. It will take you longer to make money.
  2. Is your item easily shipped?
  3. Are you happy to sell internationally?
  4. Is your work easily reproducible?
  5. Do you value face-to-face interaction over online interaction?
  6. Do you have the products to do markets?
  7. Do you like having your weekends free?
  8. Are you willing to invest the time to take and edit stellar photos?
  9. Do you enjoy the process of selling and marketing?
  10. Are you happy to make less money selling to shops?
  11. Do you have the time or the skills to set up an online shop?

In the podcast, I take you through each of these points in detail, in order to help you consider the pros and cons of each question.

Sell in your sleep

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • If you decide to focus on selling online, it will take you longer to make money; unless you have a lot of money upfront to get your shop running with lots of advertising and marketing.
  • Online is more about the long game.
  • “Once you’re established and you have traffic going to your site, you’ll make money in your sleep.”
  • Consignment and wholesale will make you larger chunks of money but more sporadically.
  • If you make small items, selling online can be easy since shipping can be reasonably low.
  • If you make large or heavy items then shipping might put off some customers.
  • If you sell online, you’ll make more sales if you’re happy to sell your things online.
  • “80-85% of my sales are International”.
  • It can be really exciting to sell to people overseas.
  • Don’t be worried about losing items in the mail.
  • “I sell thousands of parcels overseas every year and I have about four go missing. I write these off as expenses and send a replacement.”
  • Don’t be concerned about language, use Google Translate and use a disclaimer that you’ve used that service so the customer.
  • If you’re going to have a successful online business, you really have to have some items which are reproducible.
  • You need to do so much for one listing (photography, description, loading onto the site etc) that it makes more sense to sell the same design over and over again.
  • “All I have to do when an item is sold, is make the item and send it. Each item is as close to the prototype as I can make it – and though it might be the ‘same’ as another product I’ve made, it’s still handmade with love.”
  • You don’t have to give OOAK products all together, you just need to have a reproducible range too.
  • Then you can put your high end creations online when you have the time and passion to create them and not feel like it becomes a chore.
  • You can interact on your own terms and in your own time.
  • “I don’t even have a phone line, I do all my business via email.”
  • If you love face-to-face and you get energy from interactions with other people then selling online might not be the best thing for you.
  • “I don’t have any stock. I make a design, I photograph it and then more often than not, I keep it myself or I give it to Nick.”
  • Wearing your own jewellery is a great way to market your goods.
  • Markets don’t make much ‘time sense’ if you don’t have a lot of products lying around.
  • If you can make a lot of product quickly, markets might work for you.
  • If you don’t want to work on the weekends then markets probably aren’t for you.
  • “Most often I can make more online in my day at the markets than at the market itself.”
  • When you sell online, you’re not actually selling the product, you’re selling the photo of the product.
  • If you’re not willing to learn how to take amazing photos, it’s not worth starting.
  • If your photos aren’t stellar yet, as long as you’re willing to work on them, don’t let that stop you.
  • It might take you a week, a month or a few years but it’s worthwhile trying.
  • “I’m not a trained photographer but I’ve worked it out myself so you can do it too.”
  • C&T GUIDE: Product Photography by Jeffrey Opp
  • There’s no way around it, you’re now a salesperson and a marketer.
  • Do you enjoy telling your story? Because that’s marketing!
  • If you can change your mindset and think about marketing as telling your story rather than selling your product then it will be a much more authentic experience.
  • When you’re selling online, you need to enjoy that process and you need to work out how to enjoy it.
  • When you sell at a market or online, you get the whole price.
  • Through a shop, you will be getting around 50% of your retail price in your pocket.
  • Consignment is a bit ‘iffy’ sometimes since you get your money only after the product sells in the shop rather than upfront.
  • If you’re not already making a profit on your product above the wholesale price, don’t start selling to shops yet.
  • No matter what avenue you choose, it’s going to be a lot of hard work.
  • Time is part of the expense of your business.
  • Out of the options of Markets, Wholesaling to Shops or Online Selling: which one makes you feel a flutter of excitement?
  • Pick one to focus on and make it your priority.
  • It doesn’t mean you can’t dabble in the other options, you should just focus your attention on one route to start with.
  • “You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought it was to get started.”
  • Nobody can tell you which way to go but there are lots of folks who help you with the ‘how’.
  • C&T COURSE: Set Up Shop with Jess Van Den
  • C&T COURSE: Wholesale Know How with Melanie Augustin

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[16] How to change your life by changing your morning routine

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 16

How can changing your morning routine change your life?

Do you start your morning feeling relaxed and under control or do you start it feeling tired and frustrated?

By crafting a morning routine that enables you to take care of YOU before you take care of everyone else, you can overhaul your entire experience of life and business.

In this episode, I share my own 3 hour morning routine, which includes things like yoga, reading, and spending quality non-work time with Nick, my husband, before we start the day’s work. I explain why I do the things I do each morning – and give you some suggestions for things you might like to consider incorporating into your own morning routine.

This is my routine – yours will look different. It all comes down to what you know you need to incorporate to help you start the day relaxed, and from a place of power and calm instead of stress. And the key element of this is the word ‘routine’ – I talk about the power of crafting positive habits, and how to grow your routine incrementally over time.

Overhauling my morning routine changed my life – I now start my days from a place of power – knowing I’ve done all my vital self-care activities, and can launch into my workday from a place of energised calm. Of course – some days it all falls apart, and that’s okay! It’s what you do most of the time that matters – and the longer you work at crafting your routine, the more powerful it will become.

Love the show? You can show your support by:

  • Leaving a review on the C&T FB page.
  • Leaving a review on iTunes.
  • Donating a few dollars towards the costs of producing the pod.
  • Joining the Thriver Circle – without the members of the Circle, this podcast would not be possible.

 

The Well

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Make time for the most important things in your life for your own personal happiness and health
  • Doing things which are for relaxation and for exercise will always make you feel better
  • “I read a book, blog or at least something which will get me energised and inspired for the day.”
  • Look for reading in the morning which will get your business brain churning and ready for you work day
  • Making space for your morning and all the rituals you would like to complete before your day starts is really important
  • “If I get on the exercise bike, I’ll listen to a Podcast.”
  • There are heaps of great apps and websites you can find which give you exercise ideas and which can do within the time you have available for your morning.
  • APP: 7 Minute Workout
  • Leave yourself as much time as you can for your morning routine.
  • “The key is to have a flow and a set of triggers which will help craft your morning routine.”
  • BOOK: The Sweet Spot by Christine Carter
  • Changing one thing in your morning routine is actually about changing a whole bunch of habits.
  • All your habits are triggered by something which precedes them.
  • Understand the reward for changing your habit – why do you want to change your habits?
  • You will find that overhauling your morning routine will bring about ‘Energised Calm’.
  • If you feel that you’re putting your needs above other people, you are! But that’s OK as you need to look after yourself before you can look after other people.
  • “You’re like a well. If water is being taken out of the well but there’s never any rain, that’s when everything falls apart and you feel stressed and depleted.”
  • Morning routines start the night before.
  • Set a bedtime alarm so you get to bed with enough time to get ready and get enough sleep to get in gear for your morning routine.
  • “I find and set out my exercise clothes for the next morning so it’s easy in the morning and I don’t have to spend Will Power. I set myself up for success the next morning.”
  • Getting more sleep is the number one way to boost your mental ability and mood.
  • Make a plan – brainstorm everything you want in your morning routine and do a timeline.
  • “Intellectually I want to get straight out of bed and go for a walk but it just doesn’t work for me. I need that time to sit and drink a cup of coffee and a glass of water and read a book before I’m ready.”
  • Have a shower and get dressed even if you are working from home that day.
  • “If you’re relying on an external reward, it’s not going to work as well. It’s got to be linked in the moment. There needs to be an intrinsic reward otherwise you will deplete your willpower.”
  • BOOK: Habit by William James
  • BOOK: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • WEBSITE: Zen Habits by Leo Babauta

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[15] How to advertise your business on a shoestring budget

Copy of The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 15

There are so many great free options for advertising and marketing your business these days that talking about paying for advertising is unusual for me. But the truth is, if you’re not paying for something with money, you’re paying for it with time.

We recorded this month’s conversation about how to find affordable advertising which is targeted towards your ideal customer.

Making sure you know who your perfect customer is will be the very first step you need to take in the process so if you haven’t done this yet, now is the time!

A marketing plan is key and you can find a great link to Kath’s post about an annual Marketing Calendar here and here.

Once you have these things in place, it’s all about research and making sure you know all about the publication or website where you’re spending your money.

Listen in for all the inside information about how to advertise your business on a shoestring budget.

Targeted Adverts

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • There are so many free options for advertising these days – you should try a lot of those before turning to paid advertising.
  • Decide on a marketing plan. Don’t just start paying for advertisements willy nilly.
  • “If you haven’t sat down and figured out your ideal customer yet, do that first and foremost.” {Kath}
  • What are you advertising? (the brand, a product, a special deal, a seasonal product).
  • Do an annual plan with dates you need to pay for adverts (and the reasons why).
  • Research – If you can’t afford to buy the magazines/print publications you want to check out, go to your local library or ask friends if they have copies.
  • Read up about the online blogs or websites which are offering paid advertising spots.
    • Ask for their Media Kit
    • How many readers do they have?
    • What are their demographics – are these your target customers?
    • Do they have a ‘product’ or ‘indie brand’ section which you could slot into?
    • What are other people saying about the publication?
  • Figure out a budget and stick to it – no matter what the advertiser wants from you.
  • Start small and ask for a discount.
  • I have found that almost all larger businesses I’ve worked with are happy to give you a discount to trial your advert.
  • Smaller businesses are just like you and may not be able to give you much of a discount – but they might have a smaller and more concentrated group of people who could be your perfect target market so it’s worth paying the money.
  • “Facebook Adverts – I’m still figuring these out but I find that I get about a 50/50 strike rate.” {Kath}
  • Think outside the box. There are loads of places where you could spend a bit of money for a potential sales gain.
  • Give away some freebies to encourage people to purchase from your store.
  • Print postcards or fliers and deliver them to mailboxes in your local area or to businesses which might have a lot of traffic.
  • Sponsor your local fete or school event – they will usually do a lot of advertising for you in advance.
  • Promoted Listings on Etsy have been successful in the past.
  • “It’s better to target your adverts in one place than scatter gun them all over the place. Try one place and stick with it for a few times to see if it works – then move on if it doesn’t.” {Kath}
  • Build brand awareness with this new audience before giving up.

 

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