Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm Tagged

Nanjodogz 'tagged' me so now I'm supposed to tell 7 things about myself.
So with my 'IT' hat on, here we go:

1. I'm training myself to get up early and write even though I'm REALLY not a morning person.

2. I talk to my cats like people.

3. I hate clutter, but I'm a packrat. This is a problem for me.

4. As sappy as it sounds, I like to call my husband in the afternoons just to hear his voice.

5. Whenever a new season begins, I always think that's my favorite season (except for summer)

6. I don't exercise as much as I plan to. ( i actually don't do anything as much as I plan too - maybe I over-plan?)

7. I don't forward e-mails that tell me to, and I don't tag other people in games. Sorry.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Personalizing and Customizing



For many months in my Etsy shop, I had a note in my announcement section that I was happy to take custom orders. After one or two custom I spy blanket requests I realised that making custom orders involved a lot more work, and frequently involved buying additional supplies, like special fabric. The problem was that I felt uncomfortable asking for more money than my regular listings were priced at.

The solution I came up with was to create a special listing for a custom I-spy blanket that took into consideration the extra time and money I had to invest. Another problem, that I hadn't thought about that creating this special listing created for me was that about the timing of payment.

Because I'm a wimp about asking for money, I'd usually spend all the time corresponding with my clients about their request, gathering sample fabrics, and even making the item before asking for payment. I'd create a listing for them when the item was done. Luckily, all my buyers are wonderful and honest people, but I'm sure there was the potential for me to be left with an item that was to personalized to resell.

Now, I'll still work out the details of an order with someone, but once we're ready to start actually cutting and sewing, I can ask for them to purchase the listing from my shop. Once payment clears, I start sewing. Even timid little me can handle asking that, and so far every single client has paid for their listing the same day I asked.

Soon after making the custom I spy blanket listing, I also made a listing for a custom Soft fabric book. I'll be creating a custom soft jingle block listing soon too.

The very best things that creating special listing for my custom work has done for me is that I now get far more custom orders than I used to. I think people don't always like to ask questions. Maybe they don't want to take the time, maybe they are worried that the answer will be no, maybe they feel silly bothering someone else, I don't know what all the reasons are. I just know that now that I have custom listings, I am almost always working on a custom order.

The listing makes it easy for buyers. It tells them they type of information I need to start. It lets them know what I'll be doing for them and how long it will take me. It gives them all the information they need to decide to buy. It also gives them permission to ask for exactly what they want without feeling pushy or picky. Everyone wins!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Business Plan

I never finished writing my business plan for my crafting business. When I crunched the numbers awhile back and learned that I'd never be able to make this the kind of business I wanted it to be, and also be able to give up my day job, I stopped working on it.

I won't go into the details about that decision again - it's in a previous blog post if you missed it and are interested.

I'm not stopping or giving up on this business. I love it too much for that. But I'm no long putting all my energy into growing or developing it any further than where I have it right now. I will do all the work I need to do to keep it as successful as I already am. I love the happy e-mails from customers, and the pictures of kids enjoying something I made. How could anyone walk away from that? But I'm not expanding. This is good, this is where I want to be.

I did promise you all some advice on writing a business plan. So I'm here tonight to fill that promise. Even if you don't 'need' a plan ( if you're small and don't plan to seek investors or a loan there's no business law that says you must have a written business plan to be legitimate) it can still be a good idea to help you focus and organize your business. It may get you to think about things you haven't addressed before. Anything that helps your business move forward is helpful.

I am going to wimp out of actually walking you through the whole process myself. I found these links that do a great job of detailing what goes into a plan. They explain it probably better than I could myself anyway.

Another wonderful resource to look into is to find your local Small Business Development Center. My husband took a class on how to write a business plan from them for his IT business and it helped a great deal in focusing our marketing efforts. Ours offers all sorts of classes, and free one on one counseling too. Don't ever feel that you're company is too small to talk to someone at a Business Development Center. I've taken a class and also spoken with them on several occasions. Helping small business is what they're all about. They've probably seen plenty of businesses that are smaller and less organized than you.

Business plan instructions:
http://www.isitebuild.com/simplebusinessplan.htm
http://www.businessplanning.ws/