Good evening lovely people!
You may have noticed that the Big Pixie Collab planning has taken over my life at the moment…but YOU are fuelling that. The reaction to every single piece so far on social media has been incredible. It has really reignited a fire and passion for this work. When you have been running a small business for a number of years (as I am sure any of us would tell you!!) it can get really draining. Today’s blog is all about my top tips for maintaining the passion for your craft business long term!
Pixiecraft has been running in one form or another now for 6 years but we have just completed our first full year as a full time business. Consequently I have recently had to put a lot of thought and planning into how I can maintain this long term. Running a small business is a whole other world, it creeps into every part of your life and it becomes a part of your soul. Every single piece of work I make has a connection to me and feels important sometimes that is brilliant when I post a piece of work and everyone goes crazy for it…and other times it will be a complete flop and I have to dust myself off and try again. It can get very intense, very quickly. I finished university at 21 and gave birth to my eldest on the day my dissertation was due! I went straight from that into being self-employed. I have worked as both an OFSTED reg childminder and as a textile artist. I had to get pretty focused on maintaining me businesses fast as I have never been employed and I have always had a family relying on me. So here are a few thinks I have learnt along the way.
Make what you love!
Sure it can make sense to want to make just what sells and what you think other people want but if you are going to throw your soul at something you want to enjoy it. If you lose passion for your own work other people are going to pick up on that and it’s a one way ticket to failure. Of course there are days when I think I don’t want to pick up a needle (usually around mid-December when I have been sewing 24/7 for 2 months) but for the most part I still adore embroidery. It suits me perfectly as it’s portable and fun, I get to play with colour and words all day. Even after all these years I still love starting a new hoop or drawing a new design.
Plan, plan, plan.
I have made some major mistakes in my business planning over the years and even now I am still learning. Christmas starts in July/August for example. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket, multiple selling platforms such as Etsy, Folksy, Notonthehighstreet and your own website are crucial but to maintain that many different platforms you need to be organised and know what is available where and have a watertight way of recording incoming sales so nothing slips through the net.
Set goals for motivation.
It is really easy to slip into a place of comfort, sales trickle in and business just floats on by easily but never really reaching its full potential. Setting yourself goals, and actually writing them down, talking about them to anyone who stands still long enough to listen can be a brilliant way of focusing your attention on how to keep your business moving forward. That complacent, comfortable place and can quickly lead to slow sales. Running a small business now is a very competitive world and you need to stay on your toes to predict and bend to changing customer behaviour, if you don’t get someone else will quickly come and take your place.
Find your niche.
It is incredibly rare that you will be the only person doing what you do. There will be people out there who do very similar, and yes lots of them will be better or bigger than you. There will be people who do what you do put don’t price themselves appropriately which can make you panic that will take all of your work. You need to make sure you are clear and consistent in your business, experiment and expand your work but do not lose the core of what your business represents. This niche needs to be a fundamental part of your entire brand because people respond well to a business that understands who they are. Being flaky or a jack of all trades helps no one!
I know, I know I am going to sound like a huge hypocrite now and anyone who knows me personally and my tendency to work myself to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion will be hysterically laughing at this BUT you cannot work all of the time. You must make time to do something else especially when you are crazy busy and working through the night to keep up. If you don’t you will become resentful and burnt out. Even better, go out spend time with real humans if you can because working at home, alone can be very isolating. Almost every single person I’ve spoken to who has given up their business and gone back into work outside the home has said the isolation had a lot to do with it.
Social media is your face.
I promise I will try keep this bit brief, social media is a whole other blog (or ten) in itself but this is such an important thing to remember. I get asked a lot by people starting up small businesses what to do on their social media and the first and most important thing I will always say is..
people buy from people they like!
If you have two people offering the exact same product, at the same price people are going to buy from the one they instinctively like the look of most. Why they like you comes from many things but it is so important that you use your social media platforms as the face of your business. Do not sell at people all of the time, do use it to make your brand clear and consistent and find a way to show who YOU are. When people buy from a small business they are buying into you and so you need to make sure your social media is creating a community that reflects you. Over the years the Pixiecraft community has grown massively but it is still the part of the business I enjoy most because those faces behind the screens, spread all over the world are what help my crazy little dream even be possible.
If you could share one tip you have learnt from running your business what would it be? We can learn a lot from each other! :)