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announcing

304: How to Plan in Uncertainty

Welcome to April and the beginning of a new quarter! This is the time where we usually make plans for the coming three months and review the progress we’ve made so far this year but…everything is weird. How do we do that now?

In the Starship this week, we’re doing Map Making – making a plan for the quarter. You can learn more about the Starship here and/or start making your own map with my book, Map Your Business.

I know, nothing is normal right now. 

You are staying home, no one in your home is ever leaving it, you may not be able to get the supplies you usually do, you may not be selling where you usually do, people are buying less because some people are losing their jobs. 

And yet. 

Now is the perfect time to plan the new quarter. 

I’ve actually talked about planning during uncertainty already – back in episode 254, I gave suggestions for how you can plan when YOUR life is uncertain. Add back in episode 291, I shared how I was planning the New Year while my life is so uncertain (as a foster parent). 

Well, guess what? Now you’re joining me in everything being up in the air and nothing being normal!

It’s really uncomfortable isn’t it? 

One of the things I find myself wanting to do is just wait….wait for it to feel normal. Wait for things to be ok. Wait for everything to be how it was. 

Well, that’s not going to happen.
We may very well need to limit social contact for quite a long while until this is completely past. 

But beyond that, life WILL be different.
Some of the people who lost jobs, won’t get the same ones back.
Some businesses won’t open back up. 

I don’t say any of this to scare you, but so that you can be honest with yourself – things have changed and we don’t when or if what we consider normal is coming back. 

What we can do is move forward with what we do know. 

What we can do is embrace today for being today. We can accept our current reality and find ways to live within that. 

And look, I know, it’s scary. Change is really really hard. And never before have we all been going through change at the SAME TIME. It’s so disorienting! 

Waiting until everything is normal isn’t going to work. 

Accepting where you are right now is the only way forward. Now it may take days or weeks or even a month to really feel ready to accept it. To even understand what the new reality is. It’s certainly taken me a week or two to get used to having two girls home from school every day and feeling out what our schedules are. 

 

But once you’re accepting it and through the fog a bit, it’s time to plan. 

 

So how can we plan when we don’t know what’s coming? 

  1. Look at your goals and dreams again. Get reoriented in where you want to go. Ask yourself which you still care about. Which still matters?
  2. Forget the old way of getting there and look for new ways.
    Maybe you were going to do a craft show – what about finally starting that shopify shop?
    Maybe you were going to grow your email list at a craft show, what about creating a PDF download to drive subscribers?
  3. Focus on systems, not outcomes.
    If you find yourself stressed that people aren’t shopping as much now (although I’m not sure this is true? Surely online shopping is surging) – stop focusing on the outcomes of your goals,and focus instead on setting up the systems of your goals. What technology do you need? How consistent will you be? What do you have to do in order to stay consistent? 
  4. Be Realistic.
    Yes, work on your goals, make a plan, but also really practice accepting the time and energy you have. I know I have about an hour a day, as long as my girls aren’t in school. I wish I could do more in my business, but that’s the extent of the time and energy I have.

    So I’m making a plan for the quarter – I’m looking at the systems and products I want to create, knowing I'll be doing it in about 5 hours a week. I will consider it a success if I use those 5 hours well, to create and publish this podcast, hold the weekly Starship chat and go live in my Facebook group. That’s it. 
  5. Be gentle on yourself.
  6. Along with being realistic, give yourself a break. I HAVE more hours than just naptime – I could get up early or work after bedtime…but I need that rest and recovery. I don’t know about you, but I find myself more on edge, more exhausted, more short-tempered than usual. So don’t make your business and your goals another thing to stress yourself out, another thing you should be doing. 

 

We are going to get through this. THings may not look the same afterwards…but what if that was a good thing? What if you set a goal for the quarter and reached it despite all the chaos? How awesome and grateful would you feel? 

One way or the other time will pass, the virus will pass and there will be shopping and craft shows and retail locations making orders again – will your business be ready for it? 

212: Announcement! Insight to a personal decision

One of the best parts about owning your own creative business is that it allows you to the freedom and flexibility to make the right choices for your family without worrying about your boss or employer. Learn a little more about how this is working in my business at TaraSwiger.com/podcast212

This week I make a big announcement – we're becoming foster parents!

In today's Very Special Episode I explain what that means, how it all works and where we are in the process. Plus I share a very sweet story about my Poppy.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Let’s explore profit

let's explore profit

Money. Profit. Pricing.

These are some of the hardest things to talk about in our businesses (and lives!), for a many reasons: because of our culture and its messages, because we might use it as a measure of our self-worth (and thus, it becomes a tool of self-doubt), and  because it is so easy to get lost in the Comparison Game.

This is exactly why we should explore it. Not just explore the ideas of profitability or making money – but explore your actual, real-life numbers, no matter what they are.

You see, in my work with creatives I find two things that routinely get in the way of their doing what they want to do:

  1. They don't have a plan, they don't know exactly where they want to go. (Which is why I created this.)
  2. They don't know where they are, they don't know their actual numbers. (Which is why I created this.)

If you want to go somewhere else, you have to know where you are right now.
If you want to make more money, you need to know what your money is doing right now. You need to know your expenses, your profit margin, your minimum break-even point and your most profitable products.
With this knowledge, you can grow, build, and expand. You can spend your time on what works and stop doing what doesn't.

But this doesn't have to be hard or stressful or self-flagellating. We can pull out these numbers, run a little math, and then learn the lessons. We can explore instead of hoping, comparing, or grasping.

If you'd like to join me in this exploration, it's time to learn how to Pay Yourself.

 

 

 

Image by Lacey Atkinson

The Adventures

Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the finds on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.

The View

Office view.

I greet the day with a cat on my head. #catsofinstagram
Making chana. #yum #vegan #whatveganseat
Spent my afternoon note-taking & brainstorming improvements on next year's version of...everything (Starship, #mapmaking, Solo Missions). #loveagoodproject

As fun as travel is, there's nothing like making your own  food exactly as you like. Butternut pasta (recipe linked on the site) & roasted brussels.  #whatveganseat #vegan

 

I am so grateful for:

  • The deeply encouraging responses to my Big Lesson.
  • The editing powers of my Number One. (I really can't say this enough.)
  • Warm woollens in cold weather.
  • Coffee.
  • Puppy snuggles.
  • Spending all week planning, writing, and creating wonderfulness for Solo Mission pilots.

A few of the recipes we made this week

 

The News: 

This week I announced my newest offering, The Solo Mission, to the email explorers. Since I didn't really say much about it here, I wanted to share a bit about it with you:

Planning and thinking about the new year isn't enough. It's not enough to  plan the best year. You have to have know how to actually follow through. You have to have a system or habit of making your dreams do-able.

And when I talk to you – crafters, makers, writers – this is what you tell me you're missing. You struggle to take action, to know if it's the right action, and to keep your momentum.
It's not enough for you to know about marketing, communication and exploration – you can't do anything with that knowledge until you have a system for applying it on a regular basis.
But on the flip side, I'm surrounded by makers who DO reach their dreams. The Starship is full of artists who reach their income goals, yarn makers who quit their day jobs and designers who become published authors.
I want to help you become one of those dream-reachers this year. 
I've taken everything I've learned from explorers who DO reach their dreams, and I've created a plan for your Solo Mission.

Here's what we know works: 

  • Define what you really want (get crazy-clear).
  • Make a map of the steps in between you + your destination.
  • Work on doing the to-dos every day.
  • Regularly review what's going well (+ what's not) and adjust your map accordingly.

But it's hard for you to keep this up on your own. Life gets in the way – you get swamped with orders, your kid gets sick, you take some time away.
My job is to make your success unavoidable – no matter what life throws at you. Although I can't make you take action, I can provide support, encouragement and just-right questions to set you back on your path, again and again.

Introducing, the Solo Mission.

Find out more and join here: https://taraswiger.com/solo-mission/
(Since announcing it, at least 1/4 of the spots have been snapped up!)

 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comments or via email!

Throwing a party inside the CraftyBiz Kitchen

Let's get right to the point: The CraftyBiz Kitchen is now open.
You can join us here.

I tried to keep that page short and to the point, but there is so much that I'm excited about that I just had to share some of it here.
Let's do Q+A, shall we?

What's the CraftyBiz Kitchen?

When it started, in July 2010, it was simply a subscription to my CraftyBiz classes. Every class came with recordings, worksheets and post-class chats. As more people joined and started asking for different features, I decided to close it to new members on September 1, so we could experiment together.
Over the next 3 months, I added some things, tried other things and asked the Kitcheners what they wanted at every turn.

They voted and what we have now is something we all really love:

  • 2 hours of classes/month (most of them private, a few classes will be available to the public for $30-$70)
  • 30 minute one-on-one session with me, via Google chat. We talk about your business, prioritize for the next month or just brainstorm product ideas (like Zombie Jesus. Yes)
  • Weekly chats, in a private (online) room and on Twitter

The best part?

You pay each month and can leave at any time.
Or, if you'd prefer, you can pay for 3 months at once.

(Once you've been in it for 3 months, you have the option of buying a 6 month membership, at the request of some very eager Kitcheners!)

What classes?

This is the part I am most! excited! about!

The CraftyBiz Kitchen allows me to know who, exactly,will be in the classes, so I can shape the content and discussion to benefit you, the individual business crafter.
I've started to work on the outline of the first quarter and am delighted that as I was mapping everything out,  it turns out that each step could happen in a real kitchen, as you're planning a party. So that's the metaphor we're going with (but we're also going to spend some time coming up with a metaphor YOU like, for YOUR biz (if you're into that sorta thing)).

January
For starters, everyone who joins will get Right Price + Right People in mid-December, so we're all on the same page when we start in January.

Build your own Kitchen: Building the “home base” for your business, the fist step in creating a thoroughly-you business. We'll look at all the different spokes of your business + learn how to make them cohesively you. This step makes it easier for your Right People to recognize you when they find you.

Stocking the Shelves: Does your online presence (website, etsy shop, etc) answer all of your Right People's questions? Is it easy to navigate? Easy to understand? Before we invite people over, we need to make sure we've got what they need.

February

Planning a Party: We all want more sales, but before you invite the people, let's plan for what kind of party you're throwing. In other words, what your Unique Selling Point? What's the thing that makes your thing awesome?

Putting together the invitation list: In this class, we'll dig into who YOUR Right People are. Who do you hope shows up? What do they want from you?

Who has it helped?

Here are some CBKers who agreed to share their story.

Kristine says, “I launched my crafty business in 2010, and the help that Tara gave in form of classes, one-on-one, and chats was invaluable to getting off the ground.  I'd highly recommend that if 2011 will be the year of something new for YOU, consider investing in yourself and join the CraftyBiz Kitchen!”
Joyce started her business after our first IdeaStorming and has since started teaching, succeeded at her first craft show and totally rocked it.
(Also, she sends me emails after classes that say hilarious things like this:

“I got so much from the most recent class!!! SO incredibly informative and helpful! I dub thee Tara Awesomepants! “

There are lots more stories and sillyness, but everything you share in the CBK stays in the CBK. Privacy and mystery and ridiculous passwords. Yes.

But here's the thing: none of this is the CraftyBiz Kitchen.
It's all them. Their hard work. Their application of what we've talked about. Their curiosity and experiments and willingness to try.
I'm just delighted I get to hang out with them while they work on it!

Is this for me?

It depends.
If you're wondering if this is for where you are in your business, the answer is “Probably yes.” I'm working on baking layers (like a cake!) into each of the topics we cover. The general concepts are great for someone just starting their business, but the specifics of how YOU  implement them will help even the most advanced crafty business.
For newbies, you'll be building your business as we learn.
For established businesses, you'll be tweaking and improving as we learn.
For everyone in between, it'll be a combination of new-to-you-stuff and oh-I-should-really-look-again-at-that stuff.
Everyone will have the support of me (via one-on-one time) and other crafters (via chat) to ask questions, dig deeper and explore all the gooey layers.

(Side Note: The layers thing is something I am terribly excited about. I plan on playing with the concept (and maybe even actual cake layers) a lot during my sabbatical. You've been warned.)

If you're wondering if this kind of thing is right for you, the answer is “maybe“.

Before you decide, it might help to ask yourself these questions (this is what I ask myself before I buy anything):

  • How do I intend to use this, actually implement it, to improve my business?
  • Do I have time to listen to the classes and join in chats (about 4 hours a month)?
  • Do I enjoy the other things by this person (blog, other classes, etc)? Would I like hanging out with her on a regular basis?

But is this for ME?

Still not sure? Send me an email: vulcan@taraswiger.com

And you know what?

If this isn't for you? Or it isn't for you right now? That's totally cool. I still adore you and your businessy dream and can't wait to hang out with you in the comments.