Thank you for joining me on another episode of the Handmade CEO. I hope you’re finding the time to devote to your small business, your small business idea. Maybe you’re watching from the sidelines, but helping small businesses during the coronavirus crisis. In this episode, I’ll peel back the curtain and show you a glimpse of the changes that I’ve made during this time. I’ll give you a few tips to keep you moving in the right direction, and you’ll also hear an amazing principle that has been life-changing for me. And be sure to listen until the end to hear the list of guests offering coupons to you the listener, where you can find them, and how you can help out a small business.
During this time, I have stayed the course in interviewing new guests, and I can’t wait for you to hear their stories. I have also found inspiration in the way that past guests have molded, pivoted, and adapted to the current climate.
From artists converting their artwork into digital offerings to dine-in restaurants providing take-out meals, looking for the solutions when it seems like there is none is instrumental in surviving this difficult time. I received an email from Etsy urging anyone that was able to sew to consider creating masks to meet the high demand that the platform was seeing. In just a few short weeks, I have seen businesses transform their shops into something that the market desperately needs. From wedding gown creators to handbag designers, these small businesses are now creating additional income from selling masks. It doesn’t mean that they can’t go back to their old trade. It does, however, mean that they were able to create a living during the most difficult time in our recent history. It means that they saw an opportunity and seized it. Knowing that you came out ahead because of your versatility is something that will give you the strength to face any obstacle. And believe me when I say that a small business journey is riddled with obstacles and setbacks. The idea is to face them, find a way to overcome them and to move on to the next stepping stone.
In Ep 7, which aired in mid-March, I outlined some basic things that you could do to continue to move your business in the right direction. I suggested things like taking the time to revamp old listings or offers. Rephotographing your products or creating a holiday campaign for the next big holiday. All of these tasks are usually the ones that fall to the wayside when we’re busy producing and running our business. I’ll share a few of the changes that I have made to improve my shop and prepare myself for the day when things get back to somewhat normal. I’m taking time each week to rephotograph my products. I have also started rewriting the descriptions of my listings. I created two easter bracelets, morse code bracelets, and other pieces to supplement the income that I would typically see during this First Communion season. I have continued to take courses on marketing, SEO, photo, and video editing. I take each task and devote a little time to it each and every day. Little by little, my shop is changing into a better version of its old self, and it was possible because of the extra time this pandemic has given me.
If you’re finding yourself sitting idle, now is the time to take action on the things that have been weighing on you. Right now, we have a captive audience! Even if your ideal client is not ready to buy at this moment, providing an extension of what you sell in the form of a free offer, a useful newsletter, or by merely showing up and serving with kindness can really create a life long fan of your brand. And don’t forget that once this is behind us, everyone will be eager to get back to something that resembles life as we knew it, and you’ll be front of mind. As you’re going through your lists of things to do, consider creating a campaign to get rid of inventory with a huge sale. You could develop products that are in line with new social safety standards, or you could show up for your audience in a supportive way through guides and resources. If you used to teach classes, are a professional, or have a skill that others admire, now is the ideal time to launch a digital course. Online learning is a growing field that is becoming more and more a way of life. As we’re seeing it now with so many kids at home, it is possible to get a high level of education through an online course. If you sell physical products, this may be the best time to start selling online. Many platforms are offering discounts to first-time subscribers. And remember that offering gift cards is just another way to create revenue while things are slow.
If you aspire to start a small business, but don’t feel like you’re quite at the right place in life to start, here are a few things that you can do. Continue to learn more about different mediums that interest you. I’m a huge proponent of using Skillshare because it allows you to explore a craft without making a huge commitment. Try out new things and find the one that you’re passionate about. You’ll know when you find the one. It’ll be much like puppy love when all you do is think about nothing but that thing. You can’t wait to get back to it; you want to get better at doing it, and before you know it, you look up, and minutes have turned into hours, and you have lost yourself in your new passion. That’s the one to focus on.
In every situation, there are those of us who teach. Those who bring resources together, those who create products, and those who serve the masses with their skills. Can you tell which one of those you have been or become through this crisis? Pay attention to your answer; this might lead you towards your passion.
This month in Ep 10 and 11, I feature two very talented ceramics artists. I intentionally put them both in the same month to show that each person can approach the same medium in a very different way. When you visit the show notes, you’ll find that each artist creates pieces that reflect the way that they see beauty. It’s worth repeating that life uniquely creates who we are, and who we are is displayed in what we make. Let me give you an example that, although simple, does show how individually different our creative output can be. Cursive started sometime in the 1700s, and since that time, students have sat in classrooms learning and perfecting their writing skills one letter at a time. Although we all had a very similar handwriting learning experience, we all have a very unique way of writing. So much so that a handwriting expert can tell when there’s a forgery. It’s easy to give up on an idea or new path because someone has already been there. Still, the focus should be on creating from a place of passion, not in pursuit of inventing something that the world has never seen before.
Be a Helper
The best way to help a small business, especially in times like this, is to visit their site, buy their product, share their site, write a review, visit their social media sites, like their posts or their page. I received my order for gluten-free flour the other day, and inside the box was a postcard that read, “When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance.” I have to admit that this is true! If you’ve purchased a product or like the content on their page, be sure to leave them a review. A review is much like holding out your hand to the next buyer and saying it’s safe to buy here; you’ll be happy. In many cases, stores and products receive more views and better page placement if they have a healthy dose of reviews. It only takes a minute, and believe me, it truly helps a small business owner.
And now for that life-changing principle that you can apply to everything from business to relationships to the clothes that you wear. I promise it will be mind-blowing…
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule, which is really like the 8th wonder of the world? The Pareto Principle says that 20% of the input is responsible for 80% of the results. When I first heard this, I thought it was insane. I remember getting defensive and truly could not for the life of me believe that any one rule would magically apply to my very niche business. Then I did a little research, looked at my numbers, and for crying out loud, it was true! I was making 80% of my income from 20% of my products! It not only was true for the type of products, but it was also true for the time of year. I receive 80% of my sales during 20% of the year. Isn’t that mind-blowing?
You can apply this principle when you’re deciding what products or services to offer. Maybe now is the time to look at your best sellers and make them shine even more or try to create a similar offer or product that resembles those winners…or maybe take me up on that suggestion to have a sale on the pieces that aren’t big sellers. For me, it felt like I was severing a limb when I decided to focus on my main sellers and cut out the others because I truly felt a connection to each product in my shop. If you find yourself feeling like this, I suggest that you keep the images or products available in a gallery section or look book. If someone views your gallery or online look book and they’re interested in that particular piece that is no longer in your shop, they could contact you. The beauty of this 80/20 principle is that it tends to be true for everything from the clothes that you wear to the way that you spend your time. If you’re only wearing 20% of your clothes, now is the ideal time to clean out your closet. Analyze the way that you spend your time and what activities are the most productive for you. Try to cut away, or at the very least minimize, the things you feel aren’t producing results, or you realize they are a waste of time. I promise you won’t miss all that social media time! Imagine what a change you could make in your life if you started to eliminate or minimize the amount of time, energy, and money that you spent on the things that don’t move the needle for you personally or in your business. Give it a try and let me know what you find.
And lastly, some podcast related items…If you visit Podchaser and review this podcast, Podchaser will donate 25 cents to Meals on Wheels America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. It’s a great and super-easy way to give all while supporting this and any podcast that you review! And I would be forever grateful if you could leave a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to this podcast. Each review helps other potential listeners to find this show. And a huge Thanks to those of you who have already reviewed and shared this podcast. I’m happy that together we are encouraging or supporting small business start-ups to take the plunge or to keep on going. And of course, we are also highlighting the artist and business owners that are featured on this show. It is through their stories that we find encouragement, talent, and the fuel to take that step towards achieving our own dreams. I love that each week our guests provide you the listener with a coupon code to use in their shop.
With Mother’s Day around the corner, I can assure you that any mom would be over the moon to receive a handmade gift from the artists that have been featured. Kaya Soaps in Ep 5, Handmade Signs in Ep 3, Pottery, and home decor in Ep 10 & 11, Watercolor Art Ep 9, and Digital Art in Ep 12. Here’s the link to the coupons & offers page
So there you have it my friend…another episode of the Handmade CEO. I am super curious to hear how you applied the 80/20 rule in your life. Take a snapshot of this episode and tag me with your 80/20 life change. You can also post it on the FB group.
I can’t wait to be inspired by you!
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