Well, I started off the year with great intentions. I was going to blog often and and try to post many relevant topics. We never know however what life has in store for us. It has been a bit of a rocky start to 2011 but I am hoping to get back on track. First, I had a car accident at the end of January that totaled my car and left me without a car for a while. And even more difficult, I lost my dad unexpectedly almost two weeks ago. It has rocked my world. I didn’t grow up with my dad as my parents were divorced but as I entered my teenage years we grew closer and spent a lot more time together. He was my dad but he was also my friend. In many ways he was larger than life. He loved joking around and had a great sense of humor. He and I shared a passion for tennis and we spent many hours on tennis courts playing or watching one another play. I thought I was doing pretty well the other day and thought playing a little tennis might get my mind off of losing him. It had the opposite effect. I arrived at the tennis club that we played at so many times and got really choked up as I walked past court 5 where he often was. I could see him there with his buddies and all of our memories flashed into my mind. As I played tennis that night I felt he was there with me but this time I just couldn’t see him. It was tough playing that night knowing he wouldn’t be there in person again but I made it through my match and know that over time it will be easier to be there. I love my dad and feel he left this earth too soon but I know he is watching over me. I am trying now to move forward with my life and that includes getting back on track with making jewelry. He would want that. This one is for you dad! See you again someday!!
Goal setting is an extremely important part of your business as well as your life as a whole. Goals give you direction and help to keep you focused. Without focus it is easy to spend time working hard but going in many different directions. As a result, you may find that you are not reaching the level of success you were hoping to achieve. Goals not only help give you a sense of direction but help you to stay organized, be effective, make better decisions and to stay motivated. Best of all, goals allow you to measure your success and give you a sense of accomplishment.
There are many ways to go about setting goals. One thing that I find important is to make sure that your personal goals and business goals fit together. It is difficult to write one set without giving serious consideration to the other. One common goal setting method is called the SMART system. The S, A, and R stand for specific, achievable and realistic. The M is for measurable and the T is for timely. An example might be: I will sell 5 pairs of earrings per month. This goal is specific in what you want to achieve and it states a number you want to achieve with is measurable and ends with a timeframe. The following steps have been useful to me when I am writing my goals:
- Write down the goal
- Set a timeframe
- Write down what needs to be done to achieve the goal
- Determine whose help is needed
- Determine what skill or specific knowledge is needed
- Write down the steps to take to reach each goal
I usually start by brainstorming what I want to achieve and what would make me happy. At this point I don’t worry about putting them in a goal format. I take these thoughts and put them into my yearly goals . Then I break my yearly goals into monthly and quarterly goals and tasks. This then becomes my working plan.
As I review my goals, it is important for me to not only review what I have accomplished but also what goals I did not meet and why. For me, it is usually because I am missing the knowledge that is needed. If this is the case then I know that I need to seek out help or information so that I can continue on the road to success.
My suggestion for the New Year is to take some time to set some goals. Although it takes some time up front to think about and write down your goals, it will save you valuable time in the long run by keeping you on the right track. Lastly, I will leave you with the top 10 reasons people fail from http://www.goalsguy.com
- Taking action without planning
- Planning without taking action
- Unrealistic timeframes and expectations
- Reasons “why” are unclear
- Denial of reality
- Conflicting values
- Diffusion of energy
- Lack of focus
- Trying to do it all alone
- Fear of failure
Take some time to think about these and make sure to address them when setting your goals. Don’t let fear stand in the way of your success!
The New Year is upon us and I felt it was time to get a fresh start by looking at my business and attempting to take it to the next level. So for the month of January I will be sharing with you some of the information I have found on planning, goal setting, and measuring success. I am kicking off the series with some information on writing a business plan.
Defining a business plan
A business plan is a document containing information about the structure of a business. It is often the first impression of your company to potential investors. Business plans average 15-20 pages. The length depends on the type of business and amount of detail contained in the plan.
Why do you need one?
Business plans are important because they help the company to stay focused, organized and to reduce unwanted occurrences. They are used for planning, measuring success, and improving your business. Three major reasons to have a business plan are:
- To figure out and be aware of what resources are needed to get started and maintain the business.
- To know what needs to happen for the company to be profitable and the timeframe for potential profits.
- To provide necessary information needed by customers, vendors, and lenders to market your business.
Having a business plan allows you to be objective and to recognize potential weaknesses in your company so that they can be addressed early on.
Elements of a business Plan
Business plans usually include the following elements:
- Object of activity
- Market analysis
- Market approach
- Management structure/Organization/Personnel
Types of business plans
- Miniplan – A miniplan is a 1-10 page document that briefly addresses all of the elements. The miniplan is often used to test business ideas and may precede the more comprehensive plan. It should not be used to replace a full length plan.
- Working Plan – A working plan is the plan the business may use in its day to day operation. It contains a lot of detail but is much less formal that the presentation plan.
- Presentation Plan – A presentation plan is the working plan plus making it beautiful. This is the formal, polished plan full of graphics and pictures that will be shown to those outside the company (ex: bankers, investors).
- Electronic Plan – An electronic plan is basically what it sounds like, an electronic version of the presentation plan.
Dos and Don’ts
- Keep it simple
- Be specific
- Be realistic
- Make it complete
- Keep it updated
- Over estimate
- Ignore weaknesses
- Overload on tasks
- Misspell or be sloppy
A business plan will help to bring you success. Don’t write it however, and then put it away. Use it! Refer to it often and make updates and changes as your business grows and evolves. Let it guide you and keep you focused. your plan should include your overall goals for the company but it is important to break those goals down into more manageable activities. There are many great websites that can offer more information and templates that will help you get started. Here are a few that I recommend.
Stay tuned for my next segment on setting specific goals and tasks!
I have been asked to donate items before and I have done it, partially because I have worked for nonprofit organizations and feel a certain kinship for the people who approach me, and partially because I thought it might help boost my business. Last fall, I was heartened to hear that a piece I donated to a local nonprofit went for full price at auction, but it resulted in no business for me.
Recently, I was approached about donating this bracelet:
I thought about it, but respectfully declined.
I happen to really like this bracelet. I bought the beads at a cool little shop in Laguna Beach on my weekend birthday trip a couple of months ago. I was looking forward to making something fun with the beads and I am thrilled with the results. I would be even more thrilled if I sold it! I think there is a time and a place for donations, but at this time, I don’t have anything available for free. I work hard, as I know all of you do, too, to produce something unique and valuable for my customers and while I try to keep afloat in “this economy”, I need a return on my investment. Right now, the warm feeling of giving cannot equate with the cash that I need to keep my business viable.
(Originally posted on 7/15/10 on Blogger.)
There are a couple of Etsy threads going on right now that are addressing the concept of low prices equally the perception of low value. Does something priced low give the impression that the item is not as worth owning?
I have to say, “yes”. I have only made a few Etsy sales – a lot of my sales are done offline – but I have noticed that is is my more expensive items that sell. Anything marked “SALE” just sits there.
Would lowering the price make a difference? I don’t think so. For one thing, I think this bracelet is worth $110, given the time and the materials. Second, I don’t think that a buyer is suddenly going to jump on it because it is less. In fact, their perception of this bracelet’s value will probably go down. So, I will not lower the price but, instead, wait for the right buyer who recognizes the true value of this piece.
(Originally posted on 6/30/10 on Blogger.)
For someone who really just wants to focus on creating jewelry, the business side of things can be overwhelming. Marketing, promoting, tracking…ugh. Yet, if I am ever to reach my goal of supporting myself as an independent jewelry designer, then I need to get a handle on the business side of my business.
With that in mind, I have spent a lot of time the past two days reading about SEO (search engine optimization). I was happy to find a great deal of useful information on the Etsy forums. There are a lot of people who use Etsy as a hobby, but I am also finding that for many people, they DO make a living from their art and Etsy serves an important function for them. So, why not take the advice of people who are doing what I want to do?
After reading through posts on SEO, I realized just how ineffective many of my titles and tags in my Esty shop
were. Clever names, like you might find in the Sundance catalog, are not going to get my products on the first page of a Google search. I need to think like a shopper would think and use those search terms. Therefore, what I had just listed as “Eternity Necklace” became “Eternity Long Chain Necklace”:
and one of my previous listings, which I really thought would have sold by now has gone from “Seaside Bracelet” to “Chunky Seaside Beaded Bracelet”
I changed the tags, too. We shall see if it makes a difference, but it makes sense to me that I need to think like a buyer, not like a seller.
(Originally posted on 6/24/10 on Blogger.)
I recently made a necklace using a little bit of something old and a little bit of something new. A customer had found some old charms (as in 40 years old!) that she assumes her mother had engraved with the intent of making a charm bracelet. Most likely, she intended to add a charm every year on the customer’s birthday, but the charm bracelet was never made. However, I gave those old charms a new life by mixing them with new charms that reflect the customer’s current interests, such as a camera, a cute VW bus, a dog, a hammer, etc. So, instead of a charm bracelet, the customer now has a charm necklace!
Here are the “old” charms:
And here is the new necklace:
I think it turned out great and the customer was very happy that she was finally able to wear the charms that her mother bought for her! If you would like me to create a similar piece of jewelry for you, just contact me.
(Originally posted on 11/2/09 on Blogger.)
Well, the craigslist experiment ended with no sales. I did have a few views, but not even enough of those to warrant using craigslist again. It was worth a try, though, since there is no cost and I remain convinced that selling jewelry on Etsy is impossible without multiple methods of outside promotion. There is simply too much competition in the jewelry market on Etsy to expect buyers to find me.
However, it is interesting to note that I did make a sale on Ebay last week. I offered a charm bracelet as $60 or best offer. I received an offer of $45 the next day, which seemed reasonable because it was a piece I wanted to move anyway (which is why I chose it for Ebay, understanding it would go below my $60 set price). So, I am trying again and just listed this recycled glass pendant necklace...
(Originally posted on 10/19/09 on Blogger.)
Like many artists who are trying to sell their work online, I am always looking for ways to increase traffic. My most recent “experiment” is posting ads on craigslist and directing potential buyers to my Etsy shop. I posted my first ad three days ago and while I have had a few more visitors to my shop, there have been no sales yet. I have used craigslist many times in the past to sell household items, but never my own work. It remains to be seen if craigslist is like Ebay, where everyone is just looking for a deal. I will keep readers posted on the success–or not–I have using craigslist.
(Originally posted on 10/8/09 on Blogger.)
Today I watched young 17 year-old Melanie Oudin’s exhilarating win over Maria Sharapova in the U.S. Open. Stamped in Oudin’s tennis shoes is the word “believe”, obviously there to serve as a reminder to believe in herself. Her confidence shines through in her tenacious style of play and she is truly a joy to watch.
Believing in yourself is often half the battle when taking risks. As artists, we put ourselves out there everyday. We create because we love it, but when we decide to take the risk to try and sell our creations, we are opening ourselves up to praise or, in some cases, criticism. The mentally strong people who continue to believe in themselves, even when times are tough, will ultimately find success because when it comes right down to it, if we don’t believe in ourselves, why should anyone else?
This is one of my favorite bracelets that I have made. The pewter charms read “live light”, “integrity”, “laugh”, “inspire”, “create” and…”believe”.
(Originally posted on 9/19/09 on Blogger.)