Have you ever stopped to think about where you want to end up? You've started up a little business, worked really hard at it, seen it growing from strength to strength... But do you know where you're trying to get to? What does success look like for you? Will you ever stop trying to grow your business?
Maybe that's a bit of a controversial thing to say?! Most businesses seem to want to grow and grow and grow - and they won't stop until they've taken over the world. Bigger tends to be seen as better. But in the handmade marketplace, is there a point at which bigger isn't better?
Once you get over a certain number of orders per week, it won't be possible for you to fulfill them all yourself. By necessity, you would need to employ others to help with the business, or you would need to modify your products so that they can be produced faster. But does employing others change the personal identity of your brand? If your brand is you and one of your selling points is the personal contact that customers have with the maker, then this will radically change if you need the help of others to fulfill orders. If you decide to stick with your one man band, what will this mean for the production of your products? Often card makers have to stop making each card by hand, and turn to a print and then hand embellish production line. But is this where you want to go with your business?
At this point you might be thinking, yes, that's what I want. For me to be successful means growing the business beyond what I am capable of on my own. That's great. There seems to be plenty of advice out there on the net about how to achieve this and motivating success stories to keep you going. If this is what you want, don't settle for less.
But I know that success for me is much smaller than this. I didn't set out to take over the world. I wanted to make a little bit of money to add to our family income. I didn't really think about how much, just some more than what we had would be nice. And I knew that I wanted to be able to manage the business on about 20 hours a week. Any more than this and it would start interfering with family life, which I wanted to remain the priority.
Now, I've still got plenty of room to grow within these parameters. At the moment, my 20 hours a week seem to be filled too much with advertising and not enough with fulfilling orders. So I want to continue to grow until I have a steady stream of buyers and need to go to the post office every day rather than every week. But I know that I don't want to grow so much that I have more parcels than I can carry to take to the post office every day!
Can I encourage you to think about your goals and any parameters you want to set for your business. Maybe success is actually getting a few customers - people who actually want to spend their hard earned cash buying your work! Maybe success looks like a busy online shop, with increasing page views. Perhaps you want to get your items stocked in a few shops. Perhaps it needs to be 'certain' shops before you're satisfied (dreaming of Harrods?!). Once you've set some goals that you'd like to achieve, take a step back and think about what your job would look like if you achieved them. Would you have enough orders to make the income you desire? Or would you have too many orders that you'd be stressed out trying to complete?
Allow your dreams to flourish, but prune them occasionally too.