It’s the Energy Shop‘s second anniversary, and I love to write a big post every year to celebrate how far it’s come and what I’ve learned.
To organize the information, I decided to break the post up into 3 stages. This seemed fitting, as new shops tend to go through varied stages of growth. Stage 1 was about the foundation: the attitude you bring to your handmade business. Stage 2 was about the building: the marketing of your products. Stage 3 is about the details: those daily highs and lows and long-term goals.
So, this being the grand finale and without further ado, here’s what I know for sure about perspective after 2 years of business and thousands of sales.
Stage 3: Focus on the destination, but enjoy the journey …
Choose role models and learn as much as you can from their experience. I rarely think of “competition” unless I’m writing and I have to reference the traditional definition of the word. I truly believe there is room for everybody and every business to have abundant success. I don’t waste any time looking over my shoulder, and this keeps me working full steam ahead.
However, as part of my marketing research, I have identified a few role model businesses in my field. I always choose role models off Etsy because I envision myself outgrowing the handmade market. I highly suggest you choose your role model businesses off Etsy as well–it reduces the temptation to compare yourself.
Once you’ve chosen your role models, you will want to study their results. Benefit from their marketing expertise and advertising dollars. Where are they finding their customers and how can you modify that approach to find yours? What do their policies look like? What are you doing better than them? What are they doing better than you? How does their “About” page read? Where are they gaining press?
When I study my role model businesses, I see them taking full-page advertisements in magazines. Those ads cost tens of thousands of dollars, if not more! While print advertising is still out of my league, I always have Facebook. How can I reach the same market on 1/1,000th of the budget? I can create a Facebook ad to target those who “like” the same magazine where my role models print advertisements. I can reach the same audience at a fraction of the cost.
Have a plan to expand. To begin, I suggest you buy the domain name for your business and build an independent website. I made the leap this year by building energyshopjewelry.com, and I’ll admit, starting a second site is overwhelming. In fact, I tried it before and had given up on it. However, when Etsy suspended my shop, I knew I needed an alternative landing page for my business. I was thankful to have already owned the domain name, and my commitment to start a second site paid off.
In building a second shop on an independent e-commerce site, there were kinks to work out. I wasn’t used to the set-up or design, I was adding more payment options, and I was figuring out how to redirect my traffic. At this time, I was grateful that my Etsy shop was still up and running. Create your plan to expand at your own pace, with your own interests in mind (not out of panic, as I did :)).
As I expanded, branding became very important to me.
Build your brand. You want your customers to always count on your brand to be everything they expect or more. For example, I’ve eaten at McDonalds in Pittsburgh, Paris, and Porirua (NZ). No matter where you are in the world, the hamburger is the same. Customers have learned to trust that their experience with McDonalds is always going to be exactly what they expect it to be, and it’s quite comforting to buy with a sense of familiarity already established.
When I opened two shops, I knew I needed to assure my customers that wherever they shopped, they could expect the brand they’ve come to trust. The Energy Shop needed a logo, and I finally hired a graphic designer to help me build a logo that represented everything I believed about the Energy Shop. That logo now appears everywhere my jewelry is displayed, and my customers become more familiar and comfortable with the business every time they see it.
Adopt a bird’s-eye perspective. The first three years of business is just planting the seed. Like anything else, you have to start at the beginning, and the beginning of business is always laying the foundation for a promising future of growth. That’s just realistic, and most people don’t come in expecting to pay their dues. This is just one of the reasons you’ll hear so much moaning and groaning in the handmade forums. People want success yesterday already; but if you enter the marketplace prepared for the long haul, you’ll survive: outwit, outlast, and outsell the complainers.
This is not the time to be impatient. This is the time to allow yourself the space and grace to begin. Anybody can want success yesterday already, but very few are actually willing to work and prepare for it! If you’re feeling frustrated or stuck, take a step back and realize how far you’ve come–and what you’re already doing that most people don’t have the courage to try!
And keep your chin up.
” . . . we always envy others, comparing our shadows to their sunlit sides.”–Margaret George, The Autobiography of Henry VIII
Please remember that in my anniversary post, I’m absolutely sharing my sunlit side. In the last two years, I can’t count how many times I’ve felt like giving up. I know what it’s like to feel frustrated and in a rut. It’s perfectly natural, and there’s something you can do about it:
Take action. There’s no better way to slow down and grow frustrated than to stop production. Sometimes, sales slow. Keep working. Keep creating. Keep plugging away. If you’re miserable in business, it’s typically because you’re waiting for something to happen. Stop it. Get moving, and go make something happen.
In the opening of Kevin Hart’s movie, Kevin Hart: Seriously Funny, he and his entourage shout: “Everybody wants to be famous! Nobody wants to do the work!” With the smash success of movies like Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, and the aforementioned Kevin Hart documentary (if you haven’t seen these movies, go rent them right now!), people are waking up to the fact that greatness awaits, BUT YOU HAVE TO DO THE WORK. Outlast the quitters, and you’re already famous.
My dear friends, take advantage of this. Please DO: realize that two years is longer than most will stick with it. Please DO: realize that the only people achieving their dreams are the ones who worked hard for them. Please note: I’m writing to you from a place of “dreams manifest into reality”–not because I’ve realized all of my dreams, but because I pay attention to every step that gets me closer to them.
The point I don’t want you to miss is that we are, each one of us, creating something out of nothing. We are artists. Two years ago, I didn’t have a small business. I just had an idea. I invested my time, energy, and a little bit of money–just as you did. It’s something to be proud of, whether you’re waiting for your first sale, or celebrating your first thousand. You are creativity, and I want to thank you for bringing all of that fantastic energy here and sharing it with me!