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One step forward

Last week I sent this as an email to my SparklePointer people. I got so many responses saying “This was exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you!“, that I've decided to share it here. I hope you find it encouraging!

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While we've been talking about holiday planning, I've gotten several messages from you saying you're not there yet….but you really hope to make 2011 the year you start your business, or grow it into income-generating support.

I love these messages because it tells me that you are right on the cusp of the Doing.

Wait, let's back up.
In my experience with crafty businesses (or, really, any business), there's often a looong period of time where you consider selling what you make. In this stage you may even take some “steps” like signing up for etsy, listing a few things with hastily taken photos, or starting a blog (or maybe a whole string of un-updated blogs).
You think. You dream.

This is an important stage. But this is not a business.

The next stage is Plotting.
It's different for different people. For me, it involved a crazy amount of research (mostly business books) and writing down every idea I had. For others, it involves sending emails to people who might help (like me!). Or reading the Etsy forums. Or finding some blogs.
The difference between this stage and the first?

Intention.

At this point, you know, that you WILL do this sell-what-you-make thing. You will.
You may not know how. Or when. But something has shifted.
It's real.
But it's still not a business.

This plotting may eventually lead to Doing.
This is the stage where you make it happen.

If you hang out in the plotting stage too long, doubt will creep in.
Is it real?
Is it possible?

Stay in this doubt too long and you slip back into the Thinking stage.
Everything seems too hard. Too confusing. Too out-of-your-range.

So how do you move from Plotting to Doing?
By making one decision.
A decision to commit.
When you turn that Surety in your heart into something tangible.

The decision can be anything.
But it must involve investing in your business (investing = risking time or money or your comfort on something that will yield returns).
It can be signing up for a class.
It can be DOING what you learned from a blog post, a class, a friend.
It can be getting one-on-one help + gentle accountability.

Anything that you can look at when doubt seeps in and say “No, this isn't just a dream, I AM doing it.

(Note: Afraid of moving to Doing too soon? Think you need more Plotting before you commit? Be reassured: you will ALWAYS be plotting.  You never stop Plotting. I've been Doing my yarn biz for 4 years and I'm still Plotting and changing and experimenting. )

While the new year, the year of you moving from Plotting to Doing is still over a month away, I wanted to get you thinking about this. Wanted to remind you that you don't have to stay the Thinking or Plotting stage.

You can move forward.

I want you to move forward in the way that is right for you, whether you use my classes or blog or one-on-one help or not.
Really.

If you do think that what you need to move forward is focus and prioritization, I'm now scheduling personal helpfulness through January. If you'd like more information about how I can help you get some clarity with the next stage (or just help you from slipping back), let me know here (you can tell me a bit about your biz, real or imagined or just send a blank note) and I'll send you the information.

If this isn't what will help you move forward, then I'd like to encourage you to find what will work.

And remember: experimentation is a good thing.
Try one small thing. Try another.
It's only business 🙂

Wishing you a weekend full of thinking, plotting and doing,
Tara

Experimentation

The CraftyBiz Kitchen is closing to new registrants.

I debated whether I should go into the whys of it all or just give you a quick heads-up. But even if you have no interest in signing up, these why-I-do-what-I-do posts may help you in your own biz.

Why?

I love the people I have in it. It's not a large group and I've talked to everybody one-on-one and gotten to know them and their businesses. I've created classes to answer their specific questions.

It feels like just the right size to start experimenting.

Experimenting?

When inspiration hit, the CraftyBiz Kitchen came to me fully-formed: I knew exactly what I offer and exactly who it would help.
It would be 2 classes a month, some one-on-one help, and a regular checking in to see what was needed. A kitchen for us craftybiz types to hang out in while we baked up tasty businesses, drank coffee and shared.

It would provide me with a group of dedicated learnes who could tell me what their businesses needed.

It would provide crafters with targeted classes, help and inspiration to keep working at it.

But I knew that I don't know what I don't know.
That  there would be needs or questions or ideas for ways to improve the Kitchen that I couldn't yet imagined. So I warned (right on the sales page!) that things would be experimental.
I left myself room to play and experiment and ask questions.

A safe place to experiment

Experimenting + play requires a safe place. I want to be ultra-sure that everyone gets everything that they sign up for.
Everyone  in the Kitchen gets a full month warning before anything changes, so they have time to think about it and cancel their subscription (or stick around).

Better still, everyone who's in the Kitchen gets to choose what the Kitchen becomes.

To create this safe place, I've decided to close the Kitchen to new bakers. After 9/1, I'll have my core group of guinea pigs bakers.
These bakers will vote on what they want to see me add. And for the month of September, they will get everything they signed up for PLUS a bunch of new stuff.

At the end of the month, we'll see what was the most popular new thing and make that part of the Kitchen for October. We'll get rid of the stuff that's not working (but again, with plenty of time to decide if you want to stick around for it).

Play time

We'll be in this state of play for as long as it takes. We'll add stuff, get rid of old stuff, add more stuff until we have something that makes the Kitchen sing both for the Bakers +  for me.

At that point, once we have a Kitchen we all adore, I'll open it up for more Bakers.
Maye mid-October, maybe January. No matter what, it's sure to be worth more (and cost more), because I will know, for sure, that it's exactly what crafty business-bakers really want.

Wanna play?

If you want to join us for the play + experiments (and get far more than I promise here), join us! Just do it  today. Or tomorrow. Or don't.
Either way, I adore you and your crafty business!

Milking Goats, Falling Down and Offering a Hand

An hour ago, I was milking a goat.

This is not a metaphor, like brunching.

I was actually, truly milking a goat.
Here’s proof:

I’m farm-sitting for a friend and that means goat-milking, egg collecting and sheep wrangling.

It also means chasing down runaway kids (young goats, not human children), chasing off errant dogs and trying to convince the goat not to kick the bucket of milk.

Today was my second successful milking and just as I finished up, let Emily off the stand and went to reach for the door of the barn, I slipped.

It was a truly I-Love-Lucy slip with booted feet in the air, back flat on the barn floor and head cracked against the milking stand. We will not go into detail what I was covered with. Let’s just call it “mud”.

I laid there stunned. And promptly started crying.
I was covered in “mud”, hot and sweaty and my head hurt.
I wondered if my husband heard and would come running and help me up.

I laid there for a few moments, snuffling and waiting. Then I realized that I had the milk bucket in my hand and that it had not spilled. I also knew that Jay hadn’t heard me and that I was on my own.

Although I couldn’t stop crying, I could stand up.

I stood slowly up, gathered my breath and stopped crying.

I hadn’t spilt the milk. Nothing was broken. Even “mud” washes off.

As I filtered the milk and cleaned off, I thought about that moment on the barn floor. What was I waiting for? Why the crying?

Did I really think someone was going to swoop in, pick me up and finish my farm chores?

I’m 28. I work for myself, in the business I built.
I clean my house, pay my bills, do my own taxes (shudder).

But sometimes, I still think someone is going to swoop in, clean off the “mud” and make things less messy and more easy.

And this is the point in the story where someone more adult than me would say that we need to stop waiting around for someone to save us and we need to learn to save ourselves.

To pick ourselves up, gather our breath and go wash off.

But that’s not my point. We have enough moments, both real and metaphorical, in our businesses where we pick ourselves up.
Sometimes, it’s nice to have someone else reach out a hand.

I'd rather offer you a hand than tell you to stop yer cryin' and pick yourself up.

The past few weeks I have been enjoying  corresponding with a few crafty business friends. We’ve been providing each other with ideas and reassurances and ideastorming and just…companionship. It’s been lovely.

The ability to ask that one question you’ve been wondering about…or hearing that this isn’t a silly idea…or to get help with the steps to get from here to there;  it’s all this that provides the support you need when you feel like you’ve fallen down in the goat barn.

The conversations have been so invigorating and so inspiring that I want to have more of them. I’d like to have them with you.

What’s going on in your business?
What questions do you have?
What do you just need a sounding board for?

Let’s talk about it.

I’m thinking a few paragraphs via email may be all it takes to get you up out of that barn. What do you think?

If you could use a hand or you've wondered what to do next, fill out this contact form with your question, your concern, your struggle and I’ll reply within a week with suggested resources, ideas or whatever you need.

I know this is…well, completely bizarre.
But there’s no trick. No hook. I’m just wanting to connect with more crafty businesses and to learn how I can best help you.

If you enjoy  tales of farm antics applied to business advice, make sure you subscribe and catch every pratfall.