Biz Ladies: How to Plan for the New Year with Intention and Ambition

Today’s Biz Ladies post comes from Megan Eckman, the community coordinator for CreateHype.com, a site that helps female entrepreneurs learn how to market their creative businesses. She’s also the pen-and-ink virtuoso behind Studio MME Illustrations, which is on a mission to rekindle your wonder, ignite your imagination and make you laugh more. Today Megan helps us get motivated and organized for this new year. Thanks, Megan, for such an inspiring post! — Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Since our busiest months as creative entrepreneurs and makers come at the end of the year, it’s so easy for us to forget about planning for the new year. This oversight means you could start 2013 weeks behind and feeling completely without focus. Taking an hour or two now to plan out what will hopefully be your best year to date ensures you’ll hit the ground running when you hang your new calendar on the wall.

So what should you look at to do your planning? Well, you’ll want to round up:

  • 1–2 years of income and revenue-stream spreadsheets
  • 2013 calendar
  • your Twitter feed (this sounds silly, but you’ll see why later)
  • dates or websites for craft fairs, wholesale shows, trade shows and conferences

 

Now that you have what you need, let’s get started!

First, we’re going to break down the numbers because it’s always best to get the hard part done right away. Looking over your income spreadsheet, identify your best revenue streams. Do they have anything in common? How could you make them even better? For example, are your best wholesale shops all on the East Coast? Then concentrate on finding more shops in the area, as that’s obviously where your target market resides.

Then identify your three lowest revenue streams. Is it time to drop one or all of them? Are those Fridays at the farmer’s market just not worth the three hours in the sun?

What months were your best months? Did something big happen in those months? A launch, a show, a feature in a magazine? Could you incorporate more of those events into 2013? (Speaking of good months, January is the perfect time to raise your prices because it’s just before wholesale shows. Plus, your shop owners will be restocking after the holidays.)

What months were slow in terms of income and events? Those are the months to schedule product development, personal development (conferences, a spa trip or a painting class) and vacations. Yes, that’s right, plan those vacations now! Investing in yourself is just as important as investing in your business.

Looking at your overall profit will help you make a goal for 2013. Do you want to double your profit? Increase your income? Hire a daycare provider? Travel overseas? Write out those big ambitious goals and post them somewhere you can see them on a daily basis.

Numbers and math help you write half of your yearly goals, but you also need some inspirational things for which to strive. In what magazines would you like to be featured? On what niche blogs would you like to appear? What shops around the country would you love to carry your work? Is Anthropologie on your wish list? Also, with what dream clients would you swoon to work? This is where you can look through your Twitter feed and see what “big guns” you’re following. I personally also make a short list of amazing people that I’d love to sit down and have a coffee with. I do that each year, and you’d be amazed by how many of them I actually cross off that list after 12 months. It’s a great way to create opportunities for collaboration and build community into your business.

Look through the websites of all the shows and conferences you’d like to attend and put their dates, as well as their application dates, on your 2013 calendar. That way you won’t forget to apply! Plus, you will see for which ones you might run into scheduling conflicts months ahead of that panic moment when you’re trying to book airline tickets for two different cities on the same day.

By making these kinds of lists now, you not only start planning how to achieve those goals, but you will also have inspiration all year long.

So sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and spend an hour planning out your next year. I promise you’ll get excited and may even start jumping up and down in your chair. But isn’t that how you want to feel about the new year? I’d rather feel so excited I’m ready to burst than flip the calendar and feel like a deer looking into big, bright headlights.

I’m dying to know what sorts of amazing things you want to do in 2013! Leave a comment below. It will inspire you and everyone else who reads it.

Nicole M.

What a helpful post! I’ve just opened my own shop on Etsy (Devereux et Fils), and am balancing short- and long-term planning, against the everyday shop running (as well as family, etc.). You have some great tips here that I plan to incorporate. Let’s see how 2013 goes!

Leslie

I’vebeen wanting to plan my business year out, but didn’t know where to begin. Thanks for the great ideas!

Megan Eckman

Great photos Lindsey and Nicole! You guys are going to rock Etsy this year. I’m so glad I could be of help, Leslie! It can seem daunting at first but planning now really helps you know where you want to go for the whole year.

Lisa Rodden

Thanks! Some great advice (looking at trends and how to leverage from that information). I’ve recently moved interstate so my mission this year is to get involved in the local creative community and hopefully some collaborations may eventuate. I find that by spending a bit of time to create that “wish list” you talk about, helps you be able to recognise opportunities when they present themselves because you know what it is you’re looking for.

Tara

This post came at the perfect time…about to head “Up North” (for those Minnesotans out there, you know what I mean) for a end of year xc ski retreat and I’m going to print this out to remind us of different talking points – the write it down! Thanks ;-)

Shafonne Myers

This post came at the best time EVER! I feel that i always seem to forget about the little things that are important, like me and my family, when I’m in the yearly planning mode. So thanks for reminding me, Megan. One of my main goals is to get Pretty Pear Bride on magazine racks in major stores. Thanks for the nudge in the right directionl.

Desirae

Thank you Megan, this is just what I needed! At the end of the year I was so excited about all of the things I wanted to do with my business after the first of the year. Then nothing-I was overwhelmed! I need to write it down and plan and then…..hopefully that same excitement will come back!!

Megan

Thanks for the great advice. My handmade jewelry business (http://www.NewEveJewelry.etsy.com) is still new but I find that as long as I plan well, I continue to have steady growth. This year I’m looking into local boutiques stocking my jewelry – I already have a few that I’m working with!

Sarah

I have been completely bogged down with p & ls, cash flows, shipping strategies, business structure and on and on as I am starting my new business- http://www.beeswrap.com. But tomorrow I am sending the kids to the sitter, pulling out the pretty little notebook with empty pages that has been sitting on the windowsill, making some tea and dreaming! Thank you for the inspiration.

Cate

It’s funny how when you create an intention, the universe conspires to make it come true!… for my last week off I only had one company/person I wanted to connect with. By Thursday afternoon I still hadn’t made the call. Then I got an email from their General Manager saying they wanted to stock our candles in their New York store! We had a meeting on Friday morning. Et voila!

Sometimes when I focus on negative stuff, I create that too… it’s such an important lesson in keeping your energy focused on what you’d love to create.

Great post. Thank you xx

Teela

Thank you so much for this! I recently rebranded my shop ( http://lettersketch.com ), website and all – it makes you want to take a breather after all that work, but it’s important to hang in there with the fresh new year, so thank you for that reminder :) This article definitely upped the excitement level :)

Marcia

Great post, thanks! Looking at income by month and source was very useful, although it took a fair amount of pulling together. 2012 was a great year for me, with sales coming from multiple venues. My etsy shop ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/watermediaworks ) was only one source. I sold a lot of paintings at my first solo show, as well as our annual outdoor art festival and open studios, and through neighborhood word of mouth. Tracking income required pulling data from many sources — bank statements/paper check records (which I’m horrible at recording), square payments, paypal, and etsy. After many hours, I finally captured it all in a spreadsheet and sorted it by date. I also cross-checked that against some marketing initiatives I did this year – postcard mailings, online ads, etc.
Some clear winners and losers popped out at me, and I now have a clear idea of where I need to focus in 2013 to keep the momentum going. And, equally importantly, I now have a spreadsheet template to use to track sales as they happen in 2013!!

Elaine

It’s 2:37 AM and I am sitting up in my bed wondering why can’t I get to sleep! Now I know it’s because I needed to get online to see what was going on on Design Sponge!!! I have been up all day planning out my year of Wonder! Organization! and most of all my Dreams!!!!!! for 2013. I so needed to click on this post that would confirm my determination to get my life planned out before the month of January was over!!! I have read all the comments before mine and I must say that I am TRULLY INSPIRED!!!

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