Stop Spinning Your Wheels and Get Rapid Results: 3 things you must do to change your creative product business by Jane Button
Starting a business can be a daunting task. You have a vision of making tons or money, having a global brand, changing the world. Suddenly it comes to a halt. You’re stuck. Most people stay stuck, stay small and stay struggling.
The cure is to change what you’re doing now. Take leaps of faith. And get way from those cranky negative people who are surrounding you. And for heaven’s sake, don’t you dare ask them what to do!
I guarantee you that if you follow this prescription you will get rapid results. If you want to change your business you must change. And money loves speed!
1. Stop doing everything yourself.
If you’re doing everything yourself you have created a job but no
t a business. Even if you have revenue coming in, it’s still a job because you have to be there to do everything yourself. If you’re sick or want to go on vacation or encounter an emergency the “business” stops.
I know what you’re going to say. “But Jane, I can’t afford to hire anyone or outsource! I can’t get help until I make more money.”
But here’s the truth: You can’t afford to outsource because you’re not outsourcing. Here’s what you’re doing instead.
- Learning how to do those parts of the business that are not in your core competency areas. So you do things like your own bookkeeping or pattern making or building your own website when you could hire any of these out.
- Wasting time because you’re doing tasks that are repeated either on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Things like shipping, printing labels, making products that are not custom. You get the idea.
When you take time away from what you do best, your time spent doing non-revenue generating tasks is costing you money and you’re not spending it on those things that create sales. And what generates sales is Marketing and Selling. If you’re hiding behind all the “busy work” and not involved in the sales of your product then I have news for you- you have a hobby, not a business.
The Cure: Do what only you can do and delegate the rest. In other words, your talent could be in product creation. Write down the list of activities that are routinely done in your business that anyone can do or learn to do. More than likely someone else can do these faster and better than you.
My first delegation was a housekeeper, the second was a bookkeeper.
I worked with a husband wife team who had a great small business, but their time was spent packing, printing labels and doing order entry. Once they hired someone to help ship, their business grew at a rapid rate, doubling in a year. They were convinced they could not afford it, but when I showed them the what it was costing them with real numbers, they went through with the hire and have never looked back.
2. Create an action plan: you have to have a map to get where you want to go
Start-Up design entrepreneurs fall in love with their idea or product and can often neglect the rest of the business. When the product is ready to take to market, they are not prepared. This is when the Fear, Doubt and Worry begin.
When Fear, Doubt and Worry creep in, you go into scramble mode. Business can be done fast, there’s no question about it. I have seen companies turn around quickly, but when fear sets in, serious mistakes are made. Doubting your self or your product can have disastrous consequences because decisions are made from fear. And then there’s the worry part. Worry is useless, it does not help or solve any problem. Worry only gives you poor health.
A strategic action plan starts with the end in mind and works backwards so each month, each week have scheduled outcomes and goals.
- If you wanted to do $100,000 worth of sales this year how many units would you need to sell?
- When are your selling seasons for wholesale and direct to consumer retail?
- How far in advance do you need to market your line for wholesale and retail?
- How much money do you need for making $100,000 worth of sales?
- What’s your cost of goods?
- If you sell wholesale to stores, how many need to buy from you to reach your sales figure of $100,000?
- Are you going to get mentioned in magazine editorials, if so do you know the timing?
The Cure: Clear the decks and take the time to create your master plan for 1-2 years. I find the best way to start is by doing a “brain dump” by taking everything out of your brain and putting it on to paper.
Creative design entrepreneurs tend to be very visual, so I like to have clients create a visual mind map of everything going on in their lives. It may seem like overwhelm, however by knowing what is actually going on in your brain helps give you clarity. Some things you’ll want to ditch while others you can clearly you’ll need to delegate.
In a nutshell, you work with the big picture down through the details. For many product entrepreneurs getting clarity on seasonality of sales and when people buy is a major hurdle – so taking a look at your industry is crucial. When are the trade shows? When are the holidays? When do you need your line ready for a season? How many sales calls do you need to make?
My virtual course Timing Is Everything walks you through the entire process step x step.
3. Create a clear marketing strategy
You only have one chance to make a first impression. How’s that working for you? You have a great product, but that is not enough. You must demonstrate to your target market that you are credible. And that means if your marketing is non-existent or dated you have to fix it. Now!
You see, once again, your great product is not enough. Buyers (both wholesale and retail) have many choices in the marketplace. Why should they choose yours? It’s up to you to give them a reason to know, like and trust you. That comes through marketing. Let’s start with basics:
- Does your website look current, or do you suffer from website shame?
- Is it easy for people to buy from your website? Ask your Mom to make a purchase and see if she can.
- What social media platforms are you using on a regular basis, and do you have a social media strategy or are you just wasting time fooling around there?
- Do you have a list that you keep in touch with on a regular basis with articles and newsletters?
- Do you have a blog?
- If you sell wholesale do you have current and well designed line sheets and order forms?
- Are your product photos professional and if a magazine wanted to use one in an editorial would they be able to?
- Have you created videos to demonstrate your products?
If you’re staying in the shadows, no one will know your products, much less buy them.
The Cure: Evaluate where you are right now. Be truthful; be brutally honest with yourself; start with the list above and make a list of what’s working, what could be improved.
You don’t need to start everything at once – that would be certain to put you in overwhelm – start one by one and get some help. Create some deadlines and make yourself accountable to those deadlines.
Want an evaluation on your current marketing? Spend an hour with me to get a full review: Creative Product Business Evaluation
Have a question to ask about this process? Make sure to connect with Jane Button on her Facebook business page Jane Button: Design 2 Market Success where she is happy to answer questions.