Biz Ladies: 7 Things to Grow Your Handmade Business This Spring

Jenna Herbut, Biz Ladies
Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from Jenna Herbut, founder of the online business program designed for creative entrepreneurs, Make It University. Jenna loves nothing more than to help people do what they love and earn what they deserve, and is also in the process of filming a documentary about the handmade community called, Make It Happen. Today she offers some helpful tips on growing your handmade business during this spring season. Thank you, Jenna, for helping to jump-start some springtime motivation! –Stephanie

Read the full post after the jump…

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I know the spring is generally considered the ‘slow time’ of year for many crafters and artisans. Craft shows aren’t as bumpin’, and it’s really hard to sell as much as you would during the holiday season when shoppers are loading up on gifts. Although this is true, I think this time of year has a lot more potential than meets the eye.

Spring is the time when cherry blossoms bloom, electric green leaves appear and everything is shiny and new. I think it’s also a time when our brains are bursting with new ideas and inspiration. It’s time to plant some biz seeds that will sprout into opportunities and success!

Here are 7 things you can do this spring to grow your handmade business:

1. Get super clear on what you want to accomplish this year. This can be difficult because there are so many options, but take out your favorite notebook and let all your ideas flow. Pay close attention to how you feel about each of your goals. Do you feel inspired or tired? If you are not super excited about something, it’s better to just leave it on the back burner or scrap it all together. When you focus on what lights you up, it’s amazing how everything else lines up. To help you even more clarity, I love Cameron Herald exercise, Painted Picture. It takes your mind on a trip to the future so you see exactly what you want so you can get clear on the things you need to do to get there. I highly recommend you do this exercise because it’s truly life changing!

2. Clean up and organize your space. I know, I know…I sound like your mom, but it’s truly amazing what an organized workspace will do for your mental health! What you feel on the inside is a direct reflection of what you see on the outside so you want to make sure your studio or workspace gives you the creative energy you need as an artist. Make it a gorgeous space that inspires you and makes you feel good inside. If you are not naturally a gifted organizer, perhaps you could enlist the help of a friend who is. Bribe them with wine and sparkling conversation because who can say no to that?!

3. Re-connect with your customers. When you are so busy trying to do a million things, it’s easy to neglect your customers. This is not good, because without these lovely people, you don’t really have a business. Customers love to be acknowledged and appreciated so reach out and connect with them. Tell them what you’ve been up to and what you have going on in the next little while. If it makes sense, offer them a coupon that they can use online or at the next craft show you will be at. They want to hear from you! Also make a point of chatting up your regular customers at craft shows. Typically spring shows are less congested with shoppers so you have more of an opportunity to have a conversation. Ask them about their experience using your product and if they have any feedback. This information is gold so make sure you quickly write it down.

4. You know all the stuff you have been putting off for the past 6 months…DO IT! Again, sounding a bit like your mama, but you will feel amazing and your business will flourish. If you are not clear what you have been putting off, take a mental time machine back 5 months ago. Did you wish you have new signage, better hangtags, an opt-in on your website, sexy business cards, gorgeous product photos?? Yep, you know what I’m talking about! When we are busy it is so easy to put things off until ‘someday.’ To be a successful creative entrepreneur you have to get in the habit of doing. It’s one thing to have the best intentions and ideas (most of us do) but to really step up your game, do what you say you are going to do. You won’t believe the difference this will make on your business and your life.

5. Use this time of year as your test kitchen. Try out new design ideas, change up your booth display, try a new color scheme on your website, hire an intern and clear out all the stale of stock you can’t stand to look at. Part of growing your handmade business is to keep things fresh and new. If you aren’t feeling excited and passionate about what you are selling, no one else will. As Lou Holtz says, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying so get in motion and grow.” It’s way easier to experiment in the springtime because you are not crazy busy and the stakes aren’t as high. If things don’t work out according to plan, you will learn something new and no one get’s hurt!

6. Connect with likeminded people. I’m a big advocate of accountability partners and mastermind groups. To get started you only need one other person or a small group of like-minded people who you trust and vibe with. Set up monthly meetings either in person or over the phone/Skype and discuss what you are working on and what you need help with. Be sure to also mention what you ‘wins’ have been so you can celebrate them together! You won’t believe the difference this will make in your business and your life.

7. Give yourself some downtime. I know when you are so passionate about your business it’s so easy to work all of the time. When work feels more like play it can be tempting to keep going late into the evenings and not take any time off during the weekend. But, it’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you take time off to chill out once in a while. I find I relax the most when I get out of town for a few days. It doesn’t have to be far, but just a slight change in scenery can do wonders for creativity. If a weekend getaway isn’t in the cards, at least plan a day trip where you ditch any technology and focus on nature. You are you greatest asset, so it’s important you make self care a priority.

Leveraging and taking full advantage of this time of year will put you in a prime position once the holiday season eventually hits. You will be more relaxed, motivated and profitable than you ever thought possible. Success is a decision, and I hope you decide to rock this spring!

If you are interested in learning more about mindset, goal setting and living your dreams, check out Make It University. I have a free video series that goes deeper into the concepts mentioned above that I would love to share with you.

 

Mary Freiburger

Thank you Stephanie for your great blog. I love all these ideas. I am in the process of getting ready for my first large wholesale show next week and all of these are so important, including taking a few minutes off to read a chapter of a book or get out of town. I consider myself a good organizer but my friend came over and insisted in organizing all the beads, bits and stuff all over my studio floor. What a gift. In exchange for lunch my creative space is now inspiring. Barter is a beautiful thing plus I raved to all my friends about her great skills and she is going to get some jobs out of this. The only thing I would add is that your business is larger than you. You may think it is just up to you to design, create and sell your product but you probably have a huge team of supporters who want to help you – friends who are photoshop experts, the UPS man who unloads your car, the guy at the office supply store who wants your custom invoices to be perfect, or your graphic design friends who are more than happy to review your branding. Embrace your team.

Botny

I definitely needed this. I own and run a little handmade jewelry operation out of my home full-time and I find it’s so easy to get caught-up in the craziness and overlook what truly makes me happy. I’ve been trying to revamp my shop for months now, to give it the flow that it desperately needs, but have been so busy that I “don’t have the time” to focus on it. This article gave me the motivation to take time, revamp, and have fun again rather than be stressed out. Thank you!!:)

kathryn

great ideas…not always easy to accomplish when you already feel like you don’t have enough time…but for me making priority lists on the weekends is imperative! and i totally agree with forcing yourself to take breaks from it all by planning get away trips…at least every other month is ideal for me. it’s amazing how much that can lighten me up…and makes me happy!!!

Laura

loved the Painted Picture idea, got me thinking in a whole new way, maybe even about a whole new company…..love everything you do here in Design Sponge and mention it to everyone I know….keep up the inspiring work

Chelsey

I love the idea of connecting with likeminded people once a month. One thing that is on my list of things to do – and yes, I’ll get right to it (very true btw). Thank you!

Sara

ha! I love what you said about the hangtags and business cards because that’s what I’ve been making the most at my shop! It’s like everyone is getting their brand revamped and coming to get my letterpress hangtags and business cards!

I’m working on my website and better packaging! (and making sure I keep up with my books… boo!)

Emily @ Clementine

I’d love to hear more about the tools Jenna uses to keep organized!

I’ve been trying to set some organizational structures for myself and this post was the kick-in-the behind I needed today! Even though I run a store and not a small craft business, these suggestions hold true for my work too. I’ve emailed my little business ladies group today to get together and am trying to get organized in other areas. Thanks Jenna!

Jenna Herbut

Thank you so much for all the amazing feedback and support! I am so thrilled you found my post useful and I wish you all the success in the world! Also, lots of gratitude to Stephanie for posting :)

Maia

I love #4… DO IT!

Such practical advice. Sometimes we all just need a not-so-subtle reminder to get off our butts and just DO what we’ve been putting off :)

Thanks for this list!

Lesley

Thanks for the great advice. I’m going to print this out and study it like I was cramming for finals. I have been feeling the lack of experimentation lately with developing new offerings and this helps with motivation.

Amarilys

What a wonderful resource! Thank you. #1 is the hardest. I think it took me a year to figure out what I like to do and what I’m passionate about. I bet most people are there, but few push towards succinctly defining what their specific call in this world is. I’ve enjoyed reading “You, Inc.” to help me think simpler and like a marketer.

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