Monday, June 04, 2012

craft-based business plans: what works for me

I want to share two books I've been using to help design my business plan and create a cohesive brand.  Both are workbooks that take you step-by-step through the planning process for a craft-based business.

Craft Inc. Business Planner: The Ultimate Organizer for Turning Your Crafts into Cash by Meg Mateo

Sixteen Weeks to Your Dream Business: A Weekly Planner for Entrepreneurial Women by Nada Jones & Michelle Briody

Last Fall I began working my way through both of these, determined to give my Etsy shop a big boost in sales in the New Year.  I'm glad I worked in pencil because I have recently been going back over the worksheets making changes.  My plan, last Fall, was to focus on my silkscreened designs - selling yardage and sewing pillows, bags, etc. with my printed fabric.  But in December I had a custom order for one of my mobiles, which I hadn't been listing, and was encouraged to come up with a few more designs and start listing them in the shop once again.  And orders started coming in.

What both these books talk a lot about is finding your niche.  Study market trends, research your competition and identify what makes you different from all the other venders out there.  The almost immediate consumer response to my wood mobiles made me think that maybe I had found my niche.

So I furiously began erasing all my plans for becoming a silkscreen studio and began laying out new plans for a wooden baby mobile workshop.  It's funny how things work out, isn't it?  In addition to these two books, I've found that sitting down with my journal at least once a month to write about how things have been going, what I hope to accomplish in the next month and the direction I want my designs to go helps tremendously.  I also like to read over the past couple month's entries to keep me on course - always move forward, I say to myself.  In fact, I was recently reading a post of mine from the Fall where I was brainstorming the idea of getting back into making mobiles.  That really surprised me - I knew it back then but it took all these months to come back around and make this discovery, again.  So now I re-read my journal more frequently and find that it really does help to keep me on track.  I continue to move forward, with a steady rise in my profit margin, and find my sales numbers increasing monthly.

And maybe it's a bit superstitious of me, but I started making a point of writing monthly after each full moon.  When things really started rolling with the Etsy shop I gave all the credit to the moon - the power of the full moon was guiding me.  So now I write during each full moon.  Once I left my bag at my mom's house only to realize it was full moon and drove all the way back to her house, late at night, to retrieve my journal.  Yes, superstitious.  Don't want to mess with Mr. Moon!  And, if I hadn't started writing this blog post this morning and admitting this strange power that the moon has over me I might have completely overlooked the fact that tonight is a full moon.  So you know what I'll be doing tonight.  Time to review and lay out my plans for the next month!