So you have a creative small business, what a coincidence so do I! Don’t you just love it? Is part of that love, the feeling you get from setting and meeting – even exceeding your goals? If your enthusiasm started to wane in that last sentence and was hedged with feelings concerning your track record of meeting goals, then let’s whip those goals into shape and get you feeling better, stronger, and happier.
First of all I’m going to assume you have already, at some stage in your life, set some goals for your business. You know your goals need to be varied and achievable, and you know they help set you on the path to success.
I discovered the need for varied goals in my first year on etsy, that gruesome year of selling only 3 items through the shop. I knew I needed to measure all kinds of growth for my business to help my morale during periods of low or no sales. I needed the varied goals to help keep me going, and also to make me rise to the challenge of growing my business, Starzyia. If I wasn’t selling anything, in the majority of that 12 months, what was I achieving? I spent time developing my blog, growing my readership, growing my facebook connections, growing my etsy connections and relationships in the teams that I joined, in improving my product photography, and learning new skills and providing more unique elements in my designs (like ditching pre-purchased digital collage sheets in favour of designing my own art and quote typography). I jumped for joy when my product photography improved to the point where I was frequently featured in treasuries, you won’t believe how much cheering and high fives there were when I started to be featured on the front page. What about when madeit started to recognize me and put me in gift guide emails, and on the front page – boy that was so sweet I was thrilled! That is really what made me endure the first year, which was the hardest in my life!
If you are only setting goals that relate to sales, you might want to add some other goals so that you a) feel better in the lull periods b) are forced to concentrate on improving other elements of your business. You might want to set a goal for how many new types of design or new skills you introduce to your products and store. You may feel the need to spend time learning about social media marketing, SEO, product photography, bookkeeping, or any other area you think is a weakness or a grey area for you. Maybe you want to increase your feedback rate, or your repeat customers, make sales in regions of the world you haven’t broken into yet, or whatever it is that you are thinking right now with a modicum of excitement or nervous anticipation.
You’ve probably already been told a million times that your goals shouldn’t be too easy to achieve. That’s right, but it’s not the whole picture. Your goals need to be achievable. That’s a fine balance to get right. Let’s say in my first year on etsy I sold three items, and my second I sold sixty, so that in my third year I finally broke the 100 sale milestone. After that I set my goal at 100 sales for the year. It was more than I had ever made before and was going to be a stretch, but I knew that I could break the difference down and account for it with my mini goals – in other words I planned out how I might possibly achieve that growth. I put 100 sales at the top of an A4 piece of paper. I figured out how many sales I might need to make per month and per week to achieve that. I thought about how I would drive traffic to my store. I thought about how I would market my designs and my store. I said I need to be active on facebook every day. I thought I needed to pin (and not just my own products but from across the handmade community), I thought I’d better blog twice a week (okay, you know I’ve slipped there while planning my highschool reunion, lol) I said I need to make at least two treasuries a week (like magic when you make treasuries you are featured in treasuries and not just as a thanks from people you included), I thought about how many items I needed to list or relist a day or a week. I pretty much brainstormed as many mini goals and methods of achieving the one big goal that I could.
So you’re going along through the year, and you’re looking at your goals. If you have already surpassed them, you know what to do, make a goal for the remainder of the year that will be a stretch but not ridiculously unreachable. If you are a long way off achieving your goal, and your goal is not inspiring you but stifling you – stop immediately. That goal is doing you more harm than good. I’m not saying totally erase that goal. But you need to to think of a smaller goal that you can achieve first. Instead of 100 sales, you might need to say ‘hey it’s been two months since my last sale, why don’t I get proactive and try to make 5 sales’. If you are able to set a smaller goal, put effort into achieving it and have that effort rewarded with a visible result you will be in a much better position to tackle your original goal. Just keep on making mini goals and finding variable goals that combined make a big difference to the health of your business.
I can’t emphasize enough how important variable, achievable goals that inspire and not stifle have been to me, and I know that they can make a difference to you too.