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.
It started with:
450 Sales on Etsy in the First 3 Months and 1,000 Sales and Counting in Year 1
As I began to gather what I’ve learned in the last two years of business, it became clear that the post was going to be epic. Before I knew it, there were 7 pages of ideas, marketing strategy, and tips that had poured out of me onto the page. As author of this blog, it’s no secret that I love the business side of my shop as much as I love making the products I sell.
To organize this information, I have 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 is about the foundation: the attitude you bring to your handmade business. Stage 2 is about the building: the marketing of your products. Stage 3 is about the details: those daily highs and lows and long-term goals.
So, without further ado, here’s what I know for sure about attitude after 2 years of business and thousands of sales.
Stage 1: Set your attitude, and settle in for the long haul.
“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”–Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Expect that your business will take 3 years just to get off the ground. Expect that it will require 10,000 hours of your time to become a bona-fide success (approximately 10 years). And remember, slow and steady wins the race. The work you are putting in now is going to make for a great story someday. Your greatest success awaits.
Forfeit your comfort zone. Unless you’re completely comfortable and satisfied there, and in that case, continue on. However, we all dream for more, bigger, better, and greater. Who doesn’t? What separates the successful from the unsuccessful is that the successful are willing to tackle their fears, outwit their old thinking patterns, and break their unproductive habits.
Here’s a technique we often use in my Marketing Creativity group program: Imagine yourself 10 years from now, sitting atop the success you’re striving to accomplish today. What advice would you give to the person you are right now? I could publish an inspirational book from the responses I get to this question. Everybody always gives amazing advice to the person they were 10 years ago. Offer yourself that gentle encouragement right now, and allow yourself to grow beyond the limitations of your comfort zone.
Gain exposure. I talk to too many sellers who tell me, “I want my own successful business, but [friends/family members/work/organizations] can’t find out about it!”
Listen, I get this. The Rescue You Program: How to Improve Your Life and Reinvent Your Love after an Affair is a self-help book about healing from infidelity that I wrote after my husband had an affair. I wanted everyone to read my book, but I didn’t want anybody to know about it. Trust me, that strategy just doesn’t work! 🙂
To have a thriving small business, you have to own it! You have to tell all of your friends about it, and let your passion escape and surround you everywhere you go. It’s a mistake to think that you can limit and expand yourself at the same time.
At least have a plan to tell the world your plans. I didn’t start telling people about the Energy Shop until it was about 3 months old, with a decent amount of sales and revenue to back my announcement. Now, the Energy Shop is what I do. It’s my career, and I respect it as well as anyone respects the traditional career positions they’ve earned.
Always make it about the customer. Too often handmade sellers are advised to tell their story, but I believe this is overdone to a fault. As a paying customer, I want everything to be about me! This is true for most as we are narcissistic creatures; it’s our nature. When you go food shopping, do you buy for the groceries you want to bring home, or do you spend money because the grocer tells nice stories about his life?
You want the customers to feel like they’re treating themselves when they shop with you, not like they’re donating a sale to the cause of you. If your story was so good that it did compel someone to buy, chances are that was their good deed for the day rather than the beginning of repeat business.
Because I have always made my shop about serving the customer, most of my business is repeat. I turn every sale into a personal experience, and I strive to build a relationship with each buyer.
I was recently discussing this in my group program with a shop owner who had a large brand stamp on a very nice closet organizer she made. I loved what she was making, but when considering a purchase, I was completely put off by the huge brand stamped on the piece. I explained to her that I couldn’t buy the item because it would feel like hanging a billboard for her business in my closet. I want everything about my closet to be about ME. And that’s the way your customers think too.
Forget the stories you read, check the facts. None of the top sellers on Etsy are using their retail space to talk about themselves. Talk about your customer. Don’t talk about how you felt making the piece, talk about how they’ll feel when they’re using it.
Ready for more? Next up is: What I’ve Learned about Marketing after 2 Years of Business. In it, I list the single most valuable (but free) marketing tool that you absolutely must have in place for your handmade business.
Congratulations on your success! These are all great points. My business sells vintage motorcycle apparel and for the longest time, we didn’t make it about the customer. I read that idea somewhere, implemented it, and sales increased a lot. I think that’s a mistake that lots of entrepreneurs make when they first start out.