When I sat down to write this post yesterday my first thought was: Wow, what a long and stressful week! I don't know about you, but TGIF has taken on a whole new meaning for me this week! Ironically, that thought gave me the inspiration for today's Hotlist post:
|Stress Reduction Kit by|
Programwitch, Used Under
Creative Commons License
* Engage with others. Maybe you're on a site like Zibbet, which makes it easy for you to connect with other people through groups and forums. These people are trying to do the same thing as you - run a profitable online business. Not only can enjoying the fun conversations about any and everything be a relaxing experience in itself, but engaging with other business owners will allow you to use them as a resource in the future. When you don't know how to do something (i.e. ship packages to customers in Taiwan, create a coupon code, resize photos), it's great to be able to consult other indie business owners and get constructive feedback instead of stumbling along in the dark all by yourself. Oh and if you're not on a marketplace website, there is still no excuse for not engaging. Join a site like Creating the Hive and get involved in the conversation!
* Know your season. People often feel that January and February are the worst months for their handmade businesses. The Christmas/holiday rush is over and people are out of cash to spend on non-necessities. This can make a seller feel like their shop isn't up to par, when really there are other factors in play. Don't beat yourself up because your shop views dipped one day out of 30 or freak out on the Etsy forums over a short-term dip in your Google Analytics charts. Also remember, different seasons are different for different sellers. A business selling thick wool scarves and knitted beanies is not likely to have a rush on orders in July, and a custom swimsuit shop may not have a Christmas rush at all. Keep things in perspective and know that ups and downs in sales are natural for a business.
* Stay organized. I've always been an advocate of keeping a schedule but that's not the only way you should try to be organized. Keeping your accounting up to date, your crafting room in some semblance of order, and your shipping supplies in one place and ready to be used when orders come in can help keep you from feeling so overwhelmed. Check out the second article in the suggested reading list for more information about this strategy.
|Photo: Yoga In Nature's Way|
by Tony George, Used Under
Creative Commons License
* Evaluate yourself. Whether you're just starting out or you've been in the game for a while, the handmade business world is not for the faint of heart. Just see the first blog on the suggested reading list for a little perspective. At many day jobs, if not most, supervisors conduct yearly or quarterly evaluations of their subordinates. These evaluations can determine whether or not that employee keeps their job. Since you don't have another boss to do it for you, you should make self-evaluation a regular part of your planning. Taking stock at regular intervals of what's working for you and what isn't will make decisions like changing product lines or closing up shop all together much easier to determine.
As you can see, these tips for stress reduction aren't new - I've been supporting these ideas for ages and they certainly weren't my own original ideas! Sometimes though, it can be beneficial to be reminded of the basics! Be sure to check out the links below for great insights on this subject.
Suggested Reading List:
Blunt Business Advice for the Handmade Market: If you're thinking about taking the full-time handmade business plunge (known on Etsy as "Quitting Your Day Job"), this is a must-read article. MinervaLi doesn't hold back in this blog post and can help you understand exactly what you're getting into.
Improve Your Productivity and Lower Your Stress: In addition to being a fabulous example of how to do a guest post, this article by Celeste gives you tried and true tips for getting more done in less time with minimal fuss.
15 Ways to Reduce Your Stress Level at Work: This article was written to help B&M business owners and employees have a less-stressful work environment. Let's face it though - many of these suggestions can be clearly and easily applied to your online business as well.
Until next time,