Steps to Increase Your Income

Since my ‘semi-retirement’ nearly 10 years ago, I write and share industry articles on my weekly blog.  Although, I post my own insights gathered during all my years in the field — as a sales rep, gourmet food producer, and retail store manager — I also find other experts in the industry whose articles and views are very interesting and beneficial to my readers.

Alyson Stanfield is a coach and blogger I’ve read and followed for many years, Steps to Increase Your Incomeand especially like her article on “A Realist’s Strategy for Increasing Your Income”.

Here are some of my favorite points from her article:

One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of success in any area is to create a plan. If you’d like to make more money, that means you need an income-boosting plan….

Where Did The Money Come From?

Gather your sales figures for the past 3 years.

What are your streams of income? These are the sources of your income and vary from artist to artist. Your income streams won’t be identical to your studio mate’s….

Analyze Your Numbers

Your next step is to spend time looking at the numbers in front of you. They might not make sense at first, but I guarantee that a story will emerge as they become familiar.

What are the trends you see across the weeks and months?…

Set Your Income Goal for the Year

The final step in your strategy to increase your income is to set your goal for the next 12 months. This is where those CEO projections I mentioned earlier come into play.

Did you learn from your numbers that you’re naturally increasing your income 10% every year? If so, shoot for 20% this year because it’s a stretch, but not out of the realm of possibility….

Read the Full Article

Alyson’s plan may seem rather simplistic and boring, but you may surprise yourself when you actually take a look at your numbers and analyze your figures.

Coming up with realistic goals at this point is the most critical part of the process.  And just don’t develop a willy-nilly figure — Be realistic yet pushing your comfort zone!

Most important, when you create your goal …. WRITE THEM DOWN!

Research confirms there is power in writing down your goals as written goals are 73% more likely to happen.

Take this one step further by printing them off and posting them where you see them often.

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Are You Secretly Sabotaging Your Business?

Are You Secretly Sabotaging Your Business?

What?  Secretly sabotaging my business?  How can I do that??

Personally, I have worked with dozens (if not hundreds) of producers over the years who really want to develop a wholesale business, but they end up sabotaging themselves instead of creating a thriving business.  Many do not have the stamina to see it through, many do not plan for the cash flow needed to make the transition from hobby to business, and many don’t realize that business and financial expertise is needed!

Jess from Create & Thrive understands this issue as well and addresses it in her newsletter:  Do you really believe you can have a successful handmade business?Are You Secretly Sabotaging Your Business?

5 ways people sabotaging themselves

1. Giving up too soon

…If you’re starting a handmade business expecting to be making a 6 figure profit in the first year – or even 2-3 years – please don’t bother.

Even those people who seem to be an ‘overnight success’ usually have many years of experience behind them – whether that’s years of doing their craft professionally (like an illustrator) or as a hobby.

…it is very likely going to take YEARS before you’re making really decent money from your handmade business.

…If you’re not in it for the long haul, don’t start.

2. Focusing on the negative

The perfect place to see this in action is on the Etsy forums.

There is some great advice in there, but it’s more often than not buried amongst the masses who are moaning about some change Etsy has made that’s apparently caused their sales to suddenly cease…

If you catch yourself doing this – stop.

No-one is responsible for the success or failure of your business but YOU.

Stop blaming, stop complaining, stop obsessing over your competitors, stop focusing on the negatives, and start focusing on the positives.

… Don’t focus on the sales you don’t get – focus on making the customer experience for the sales you DO get

3. Split focus

… starting too many new things at once, and not being able to give any of them the attention they truly deserve because (you’ve) spread (yourself) too thin.

It’s an oh-so-common pitfall amongst creative types, because we have so many ideas, and we get bored easily.

… Sales follow your focus.

Give yourself a timeframe to focus on one only (say, 12-18 months) before you’re allowed to start a new venture….

4. Too much ‘research’ not enough action

How long have you been ‘just learning’ about how to do what you want to do?

Are you that person who has all the theoretical knowledge… but are yet to do anything about it?

…There comes a point where you just have to take the leap.

Stop planning and start doing.

5. Waiting for perfection

This is closely linked to number 4. Too often, people hang back from taking action because of fear.

They’re afraid of not being perfect. Of not having a perfect product, or perfect packaging, or perfect photography.

Nothing is ever perfect….

If you find yourself stumbling in any of these areas, it may be time to get some outside help!

Since I have worked with so many professional crafters and producers, been a producer, sales rep and store owner/manager, I can help you maneuver through all this and get your business on the right track.

I have many options for 1-on-1 consulting and coaching to meet your needs.

Find out more here:  1-on-1 Wholesale Business Consulting/Coaching

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Planning to Exhibit in Holiday Retail Shows?

Since the largest percentage of product sales are made during the last quarter of the year, it make good business sense to exhibit in holiday retail shows.

We, as Tastes of Idaho, have done numerous holiday retail shows over the years.  Actually, Tastes of Idaho started as a spin-off of holiday mall kiosks we ran over 15 years ago.Planning to Exhibit in Holiday Retail Shows?

I can still remember all the work we did, running down Idaho producers, placing orders, and, in most cases, traveling around the state to pick up our holiday products.  When we opened our kiosk store, we were several thousand dollars in debt and wondered if we had gone too far.  As it turned out, we grossed over three times our investment and had an interesting holiday season with our fellow exhibitors in the mall.

So, what are the some good steps in putting together holiday retail shows?

  1. I recommend ‘walking’ any show you plan to exhibit in — which means doing this a year in advance.  If that is not possible, at least try to check out some of their non-holiday season shows to see how they are run and attended.
  2. Contact the show managers (if you are doing a mall show, there is typically a marketing or mall manager you can speak with) as soon as possible to find out fees, regulations, and get your idea spot nailed down.
  3. Depending how far in advance you have made your show reservations, you need to accumulate inventory.  Make a plan early on how much product you think you will need (and then, probably double it!) and get it made or ordered in.
  4. Most malls supply tables and table cloths or the actual kiosk carts.  One way or another find out what you will or will not need and plan accordingly.  And don’t forget to include/design/order some nice signage for your booth.
  5. Along with your inventory, plan to have the following supplies on hand:
      • Comfortable shoes as you could be on your feet for long hours.
      • Bags of various sizes depending on your product
      • If you have a cash register, great!  Bring extra rolls of receipt tape.  If you don’t have a cash register, a cash box and hand written recipe book will work.  Make sure to have cash on hand to change larger bills
      • Tape — seems like a display or sign falls apart during shows.
      • A partner or helper to fill in while you eat, rest, or use the bathroom!
      • Water or some other beverage to keep you hydrated.

     

If you decide to exhibit in a mall kiosk, be prepared to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week for several weeks. You will need to keep your energy up, so rest and eat well during this time.

There are also region shows that last 3-5 days if we want to start out smaller.  Most of the same tips apply for these shows as well.

 

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Have You Started Your Holiday Planning?

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article, When Should I Start Holiday Planning, where I gave a month ‘to do’ list of holiday plan, starting with January.

If you are like most producers, sales during the holiday season are 50 to 75% of your yearly business!  In order to meet that demand, early planning is Have You Started Your Holiday Planning?critical to your success and sanity during the holiday season.

Wholesale in a Box also published an article listing their 9 Crucial Tips for Growing Wholesale Around the Holidays.

Here are a few of their holiday wholesale tips:

1. Prepare your personal life.
…Things get crazy around the holidays … You’re dealing with retail orders, wholesale orders, holiday markets, and production all at once. So it will be a little nuts, but the truth is that the truly nuts period is pretty short, probably about 4-6 weeks…. so don’t “heap on”, adding other unnecessary commitments to the roster during those weeks. Try to set expectations with yourself, family, and friends so that you have as clean a slate as possible so you can focus on your business. …

2. Get the help you need — early.
… The time to start setting it up is now, long before you’ll need it. Perhaps you’re so well-established that you can actually interview for skilled hourly workers to help you with production, and you already know how many hours per week, during which weeks, you will need them. … But, if your business is a little more unpredictable at this point … You can ask a couple of friends to commit to being “on call” during a 3-week period for movie-and-production nights. … It’s ok to tell people, “I might need help, but I’m not sure how much.”

3. Love the ones you’re with.
If you’re growing wholesale, it’s tempting to focus entirely on getting new orders from stores. But one of the most important things you can do is cultivate your relationships with your current stockists. … How to cultivate reorders during the holidays? So many store owners tell me that they don’t have a super-precise system for deciding what to reorder. So a big part of your focus should be making your line visible to the stockist and being of service to the stockist. That way you’re top-of-mind when the store owner is making their list of items to buy. …

4. Focus on your best sellers and what makes you distinctive.
Makers tend to think their line needs to be well-rounded. … store owners often tell us that it is actually the 2 or 3 standout pieces that prompt them to choose this line over that line. Standout pieces help stores make sales when a customer is in the shop browsing. So if there is a piece that they simply can’t get anywhere else, it will likely push them over the edge to choosing your line, and putting together enough other pieces from the line to make a full order….

Continue reading this article for the final four tips for planning and growing your wholesale business for the holidays.

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How Can I Improve My Efficiency?

We all want improve our efficiency — in our business, in our sales, in working with customers and buyers.

I, myself, need to make my life more efficient and effective as I wear lots of How Can I Improve My Efficiency?hats.  It is easy to get confused, forget appointments (nearly did this early today) and generally speaking, drop the ball.

So how can we improve our efficiency?

Artsy Shark’s article by Corrina Thurston lists 8 different ways to improve our efficiency in business and life in their recent article:

8 Ways to Be More Efficient

  1. Don’t Multitask: If you’re anything like I was, you may think multitasking is a good thing! …. When you multitask, your brain is jumping from one task to another. Unfortunately, it takes your brain time to do that and the more you jump around, the more time it takes to adjust to the new task. …. It’s time you don’t realize is wasted, and it adds up.
  2. Finish One Task at a Time: This goes along with trying not to multitask, instead you want to finish one thing at a time. If you have 5 tasks that will each take you 4 hours to complete, and you work 2 hours on one, an hour on another, then two hours on the next, you won’t feel like you’re getting anything done….But if you do one after another, you’ll finish a task every 4 hours.
  3. Make Smaller Goals: Big goals, which I call Summit Goals, are great, …. But when it comes to my daily schedule, my to-do list is full of small goals, which I call Step Goals…. If your list only has Summit Goals, it may not feel like you’re accomplishing anything. If you break those down into a number of Step Goals, you can cross them off more quickly and feel a sense of accomplishment, which feeds your energy and efficiency. Plus you’ll know exactly what you have to do next in order to reach that Summit Goal.
  4. Time Yourself: If you’re struggling to get yourself to work on something, try timing yourself. …. I time myself for 30 minutes with no distractions and write as much as I can for 30 minutes and then see how many words I wrote. Then I take a quick break and do another 30 minutes. This works with creating artwork, creating marketing materials, framing, writing, jotting down ideas, etc.
  5. Reward Yourself: …. When I finish something monotonous or that I really dread, like bookwork, I get ice cream or whatever else I’ve been eyeing in the kitchen. … Of course not all rewards need to be food, maybe you get to spend time reading that guilty pleasure book or play a game, etc. But you don’t get the reward unless you put in the work.
  6. Minimize Distractions: With our devices always hooked up to the Internet, it’s easy to get distracted with Facebook notifications, emails, Twitter, text messages, and more. If you want to be more efficient with your time, minimize those distractions. … Some artists also have a sign they put on their studio door that allows their family to know they’re concentrating and would like not to be disturbed.
  7. Schedule Your Time: … If you’re able to sit down the night before and schedule your day and what you’ll be working on, it may help you be more efficient by streamlining your process. … for some people, this is immensely helpful.
  8. Take Breaks: This may seem counter intuitive, but taking breaks, getting up to get a drink or going for a short walk, can be a huge help to your efficiency. You’re releasing endorphins, getting your blood flowing, and giving your eyes and brain a quick refresh.

Read the full article

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