Summer Slow Down? think again!

by Jane Button on July 5, 2014

There are already six months gone for the year. It’s almost the 4th of July, then Labor Day will be around the corner, and before you know it, it will be time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I know, it sounds like I’m getting ahead of myself, but hear me out…Every year around this time, I start hearing creatives start talking about it being a slow time because it’s summer and they’re going to SLOW down.SLOW DOWN? If ever there was a time to slow down, it’s not now. And frankly this thought scares me. Third quarter: July, August, September is an extremely busy time for creative entrepreneurs.

Here’s why:

Wholesale businesses are either manufacturing products or starting to ship Fall Goods to stores.  When I had my Warm Heart business our first shipments for Fall were in July for the Nordstrom annual store wide Anniversary Sale. This was all early back to school and we absolutely had to ship on time. Fall selling in many boutiques starts in August for back to school. Goods start to arrive and ship in August and September. Not only do you have to have products made, you also need to ship.

If you sell at fairs and shows, summer is prime time for you from now and into the fall. You’re hustling to get enough products made and put into inventory and you’re on the road. And then more shows begin in October. It’s a busy time.

E-commerce stores are selling in-season merchandise and gearing up for Fall Sales beginning in August. Depending on what your product is, this can vary. At the end of August people want to see the seasons change with fresh merchandise.

Get your products into Holiday Gift Guides in print. Yes this starts right now, do not delay if you want your products to reach your target market. Depending on the magazine, and if you are accepted, then be prepared for sales starting November. Magazines work 3-4 months in advance, so now is the time.

Selling to stores and boutiques for Holiday / Winter takes place in summer. If stores have not already placed orders for Holiday it is time to get orders written, which means sales calls, emails and presentations.

Trade Shows abound in August. These are generally geared towards holiday with the introduction to Spring. If you are going to exhibit at any of these, samples and marketing materials need to be ready. And you’ll also need to make appointments with buyers. And trade shows in August mean buyers are geared to buy goods whether you are selling a trade show or not. This is the time to pitch.

No need to panic, but you do need to plan for the rest of this year. If you miss a season you can miss a year in sales.  As the saying goes, “Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”

Think again when you thought you were going to take the summer off!

Your assignment: Take out a piece of paper and write down everything (in no particular order) you need to get completed from now until the end of the year. Once it’s all down, start prioritizing the items. I like putting each one on a post-it so I can see everything and also change around the priorities, putting them in order. It really helps to work backwards from the goal.

Have a question to ask about this? 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.




Here are the most common excuses I hear from small creative product business owners, and why they say they’re stuck.

Do Any of these resonate with you?

* My business is only me I can’t do everything

* I want to hand make everything so I can’t get to $100k

* I don’t know how to sell to stores – what if they don’t like me?

* I’ll hire someone to help when I get bigger

* I don’t have enough money

* Other people are doing the same thing I am

* I don’t have time to get big

* My family does not support me

They are all just excuses and lies you tell yourself. There is a solution for each and every one of them. As long as you dwell on the problem rather than the solution, you’ll continue to stay in that space.

I had an interesting conversation this week with a “maker” who says she wants to grow her business to the mid 6 figure level but cannot bear the thought of giving up anything she does because she (in her words) has to oversee everything that happens. This keeps her exactly where she is. When you micro manage everything you can only grow to a certain level. That’s it. You can change or you can stagnate; because without growth you move backwards.

If you say you want to grow, you also have to change what you are doing right now. Not whine, not complain but decide and do. And, yes you have to be willing to leave some things behind. And that is good, because it brings opportunity and opens new doors.

Change often requires strategic planning and sometimes it is a simple action that takes less effort or time than you imagined it would.

Change is not a 4 letter word. Change is a creative adventure. Embrace it as it opens up your creativity and allows you to get back to your entrepreneurial state of being.

What do you want to change? What’s your biggest excuse or challenge? Write it down and then brainstorm with at least 10 ways you could do things differently.

“Leaders spend 5% of their time on the problem & 95% of their time on the solution. Get over it & crush it!” – Tony Robbins

Find the solution. And stop dwelling on the problem.


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.

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3 Reasons Stores Don’t Want Your Products

by Jane Button on January 30, 2014

Woman Sitting with a Bored Expression

You’ve got your wholesale line ready to go. You’re full of hope and anticipation. Who wouldn’t love what you’ve got? After all, you’ve done your comparison shopping and have seen what else is in the marketplace and your line is WAY better!And you start calling stores on the phone; emailing them; even cold calling. And the answer is NO.
You think, how can that be? Why don’t they like my stuff?

The answer is, it may not be what you think. It may have nothing to do with whether they like it or not. Here’s what a buyer thinks when investing in a new line:

Buyers Don’t Know If You Will Deliver:

They’ve never bought from you before. They don’t know your company and they have been burned before by writing purchase orders, saving their dollars for products that were either not delivered on time or were never delivered. You don’t have any track record or history together, so they are taking a risk placing an order with you. The buyer is taking a risk.

  • What you can do: Encourage them to test your products with a “try me” package you’ve put together that is a good mix of your best sellers. And then deliver on time. Never ask for an extension on a delivery. If you are not going to produce a product that you sold, contact the buyer immediately and offer another similar product in its place.
  • Buyers Are Leary Of Quality of Goods: Sadly some lines show well made products when taking the order, but the quality of the final product delivered is not the same. Some manufacturers deliver an inferior product than what was originally shown; even different colors or a change materials. This is frustrating to a buyer because  (a) they can’t sell your product and will need to return it and get their money back (b) it has wasted their time (c) they will never buy from you again.
  • What you can do: Make sure you have a quality control system in place so you do not run into quality issues. Inspect what you expect during the course of production and manufacturing and start by signing off on all pre-production samples and making sure the quality of your raw materials are what you ordered. And finally have a well written return policy in place.
  • Nobody Knows Your Line: In a recovering economy, stores want to play it safe. Yes they may want to freshen up the brands in their stores, but that is a risk. They have stayed with familiar brands their customers have bought previously. Bringing in an unknown, new kid on the block line that no one knows about poses a considerable risk. Will people want it, like it and buy it?
  • What you can do: First off, you will need to have a good website showcasing your line. If you only sell wholesale, you will want a website that contains lifestyle photos and product photos. If you sell retail you will want the same – plus you will want to make sure that all your prices are higher than those in stores, You do not want to be competing with the stores and the stores want to be sure of that. Have a good social media presence – this gives you credibility. Be very visible on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter – social media is no longer an option, it is mandatory. And lastly get media attention through editorial mentions, local papers, interviews etc. Get out and get noticed and then post it on social media and your website.

Selling to stores is about building relationships. You are partnering with a store for the long haul. Selling is more than having a good product, it’s getting a sell through so everyone wins; the manufacturer (you), the store and the consumer.

Want to learn more about sales and marketing for your product based business? Join our FAST TRACK SALES BOOT CAMP for how you can be prepared and get more sales!

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.


Stop Spinning Your Wheels and Get Rapid Results

by Jane Button on January 25, 2014

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.



Passion + Competency + Process = Profit

November 18, 2013

by Jane Button   Passion is important but passion alone can't make a business successful or profitable. Sure I believe you've got to be passionate about whatever business you create. But with many component parts of a business, do you really know what part of it is that you're actually passionate about? Is it the […]

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How do your customers see you?

October 25, 2013

How do your customers see you?   If you're the same as everyone else, why be in business? You'll never stand out. You'll keep complaining and looking over your shoulder at what "everyone" else is doing. You'll stay status quo and ho hum. And there is nothing worse than being boring.   Risk is part of […]

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