Yes, yes y’all! It’s September, and for creative businesses everywhere, that means the busy season is approaching! I have articles ready to help you prep, plan and boost your holidays season coming out all month long. I love this time of year, and I want to help you make the most of your efforts.
Let’s make this holiday season your most successful yet! Today, I want to help you clear the way for a prosperous, productive season.
What You’ll Need:
A few things that will be helpful for your busy season preparations!
#1 At least one day planner
I run a multi-faceted creative business and two day planners help me separate the plans and goals I create. I keep a day planner for my blog (it serves as an editorial calendar and note-keeper) and another one that oversees my entire operation and schedule.
For your holiday preparations, I suggest having a calendar that showcases both monthly and weekly views on hand.
#2 Giant drawing pad
Next, pick up a children’s giant drawing pad. They’re typically 16×22″, and you can find them on the bottom shelf of the Crayola aisle at any chain store. I love a giant pad for planning everything from marketing campaigns to product launches. Writing down all of your ideas in one place is a great way to strategize and map out the results you’d like to achieve.
#3 Access to inventory / current supplies
Be near your home office, a computer and your current supplies for your holiday prepping session. You’ll want an actual overview of your current inventory and actual listings.
Step 1: Take inventory of your current stock and supplies
I love reviewing my current supplies before a busy season approaches. I get so many new product ideas from the materials I already have on hand, and it feels like free listings because I’d forgotten I had them!
Before you start ordering supplies, packaging and materials for the upcoming season, clean out your closets and storage bins! Use what you already have for a money-saving, extra profitable season.
Next, take inventory on your current stock and compare it to the items and quantity you have listed in your online storefront. I love this task as well because I always end up finding inventory that had expired or discovering a larger quantity than I thought I had.
Step 2: Stop the scramble
We often start our businesses flying by the seat of our pants, but you’ll soon learn that day-by-day business strategy will keep you growing in whatever direction you’re feeling that day. Instead, you want your daily activities to lead towards your ultimate dream destination, which takes planning, discipline, and a long-term strategy for success.
To stop the scramble, create a business timeline for yourself and schedule your focus for the next four months in advance. You’ll need to devote an entire morning to this exercise, at the very least. Let’s get started:
- Get a calendar, your planner, a notepad for to-do lists, a notebook to record and brainstorm big ideas, and a giant drawing pad and spread that all out on a large table, your bed, or a comfy floor.
- Looking at the coming four months, take note of where you’ll need time off: the winter holidays, school breaks, etc. You can either make a mental note, or actually block this time from your calendar altogether. I use that knowledge to help me hone in on where I’ll have the energy to invest in big moves.
- On a page of your giant drawing pad, title four columns with the coming months: September, October, November and December.
Now we’re ready to do some planning!
Success doesn’t just happen to people – you need a deliberate plan and actions you can take to achieve it! Imagine building your dream house without blueprints – you show up every day and let the bricks fall where they may. Do you think you would be perfectly content with the end-result after years of free-form building? No way!
Step 3: Have a marketing plan at the ready
A marketing calendar is your blueprint for creative business success. I offer The Luminaries a variety of customized marketing prompts, but you can easily create your own.
Think of any income-generating new projects that have been stewing on the back-burner in your business. This season’s as good as any to go for them. Why don’t you plug some deadlines onto your calendar to make sure they become a priority, because growth is critical to a small business’ success. After you’ve assigned a deadline for that project, go through and list anything that must be completed in advance to ensure you achieve that goal.
Understanding where big projects will dominate your time will help you better plan the coming year. It ensures that you’re marketing less when your focus is required elsewhere for the business’ growth.
Your marketing calendar includes:
- Sales and promotions. This not only helps you find more rhythm in marketing, it also ensures you’ll be prepared for promotions (having stock & supplies on hand) well in advance.
- Social media updates. Keep a running log of information, pictures, and conversations you can start with your customers on social media. This will help you tie themes together and keep the discussion on point.
- Blog posts. If you blog for your brand, this will make an excellent editorial calendar as well. If you have a major sale coming up, you can hint towards it (and get people on your list to be the first to know) weeks in advance.
- Projects and goals. It feels good to know what your next tasks are and cross the project off your to-do list well before it’s public release.
- Time off. Being a good marketer includes knowing when not to market and enjoy a break.
Step 4: Work ahead wherever possible
If you’re anything like me, slow seasons inadvertently mean less work. I mosey through the days checking email and casually listing or posting as I see fit. When a busy season hits and a big deadline looms, I become hostage to the workload.
Creative business owners are highly susceptible to feast-or-famine energy cycles. I myself have been trying to learn my way out of it for years. I’ve either been buzzing with energy or entirely burnt out. I’ve been prosperous or poor, overweight or too thin, on the fast track to success or on the edge of failure.
Extremes don’t bother me as much as boredom does. I love a challenge …
:: I can take off work for a week, drink wine for lunch and eat lots of cookies. I love cookies! I work hard for the money; let me feast!
:: In a few weeks, when I’m low on funds, hungover and feeling like a stuffed pig, I’m more motivated then ever to change my ways. I love a challenge; show me the famine!
The key to avoiding this is to create a consistent schedule (a set amount of hours each working day) and always knowing what you need to do next. I’ve been day-to-day on my workload, and I’ve been two months ahead of schedule.
Working ahead brings peace of mind and clarity to creative business like nothing else can!
Step 5: Take an admin day
I talk to a lot of creative business owners who operate in clutter and chaos. I don’t say that to shame anyone, but rather to let you know that if YOU’RE operating like that, you are not alone. It happens to us all, at one time or another.
This assignment is for you if …
- Your craft room or home office is a mess
- Your email inbox is cluttered and you struggle to find messages
- New ideas make you feel restless, almost uncomfortable; you desperately want to develop them, but you can’t seem to find space in your schedule
- You have so much to do, you don’t know where to start
- You find yourself scrolling through hundreds of photos to find the ones you just took
- Your phone storage keeps warning it’s “full”
- You have unfinished business nagging at you
- Your mind is jumbled; you keep asking yourself “What did I come in here for?”
An admin day is time you set aside in your work schedule to wear your “secretary hat.” Somebody has to clean up the mess around you, organize your clutter and answer your emails! And until you can afford your first assistant, it’s going to have to be you.
Schedule your admin day at least one week into the future so that you can create a running to-do list of unfinished business. Have clear goals for the day, such as, an empty inbox, a neat and organized office, a list of inventory and a revised budget.
In creative business, it’s important to remember and respect all the different hats you need to wear. Your CEO hat (planning, review, decision-making) is as important as your secretary hat (admin, organization and scheduling) and vice versa. In order to run an efficient operation, be sure to take time for these things every month.
Be sure to stay tuned for more prepping, planning and holiday-boosting articles! Until next time and all the best,