As in everything in life; a setback becomes less of a setback if you use it as a opportunity to learn from it and grow stronger. Woooah come back! Before you think “oh dear, this is going to be one of those over-generalized self-help sound bites” I hope you’ll think it isn’t. Stick with me and read on…
You’ll find it true of everyone who runs any business (I’m no different), all of us at one point or another have messed up, made the wrong decision, and have been affected by circumstances out of our control. The fact is that setbacks are all part and parcel of running your own business and they really don’t have to put the fear of God into you and they certainly do not have to be a measure of your abilities and success.
In my own business I encounter set-backs all of the time and yes in the beginning (2 years ago) they really used to freak me out. I would get very disheartened when: the shop was very quiet, competition increased, or suppliers let me down etc. Challenges like these still don’t get me clapping and singing, but I have learned to calm down a bit and stand back so I can try to figure out what I can do to turn a negative into a positive. For example; when times are harder in my shop; I offer promotions, I blog like mad (because this is good marketing), I scour the net for new and different items to sell (that my competitors don’t stock) and I sometimes turn my back on the shop (when I think no more can be done) and I sew something nice to help calm me down.
I don’t think of myself as some business guru, but I do think I am stubborn, passionate, and (if I’m honest) a tad competitive. These are attitudinal traits that cannot be picked up from any business school. I think having an attitude like this has helped survive hairy situations and driven me to educate myself in the many things I have still to learn about running a business.
That’s another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into! Before you ask, this is NOT my office.
So for the sake of authenticity (to show you that I mess up too!) Here are a few howlers I have committed (and survived from) in my shop:
- I tried to sell yarn – it was gorgeous yarn too, but it had to be shipped in from the USA which made it way too expensive so my profit margin too small to be worth the trouble… And more importantly there are lots of yarn shops in the internet and in the end it didn’t make sense to try to compete with them. I should have stuck to what I’m a specialist in – bag making supplies (and not yarn).
- Knitting Patterns – I sold the yarn because these particular patterns utilised the yarn. The patterns were so delightful, but they took a long time to sell. In hindsight I think the patterns used too much yarn which made the end result rather too pricey to make.
- I spent way too much on advertising in the beginning – I knew from the start that marketing is very important so I thought it would help if I paid for Google adwords. In hindsight I set my daily budget way too high (without very much benefit). I should have started a blog from the word go, because blogging is so much cheaper, much more enjoyable, and far more effective.
- I have spent too time and money on making certain bag designs only to find that people don’t want to pay the asking price. When you make craft to sell this is going to happen ALL of the time – this issue deserves a post all of it’s own and I will write about it next time.
So, in short a setback is not the end of the world. You can not only survive a setback; you can tackle it head-on and if you do this enough times you are made stronger and wiser for future set-backs. I know you are all sensible and thoughtful people; it’s not like you are going to do stuff like sell the house and the kids to finance your craft business. With that in mind go forth and make some mistakes, it really is OK, we all do it and we’ll all keep on doing it too. It really is about attitude and how you choose see things: is the set-back ‘game over’ or is it a challenge to be over-come? If I thought the yarn fiasco was ‘game over’ (and believe me it was a flipping expensive mistake to make!) I wouldn’t be here sharing my mess-ups with you today…
Next time: What to do when people say your handcraft is too expensive…