Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Business Chat - 10 tasks to keep busy

My my my, it’s mighty quiet out there in sales land isn’t it? This is the doldrums of the year for sales, no matter what you do people just aren’t buying at the moment. You have a couple of choices here, you can panic and start throwing money at advertising, you can panic and put huge discount signs all over your website, or you can not panic and do something else.
Take a deep breath and don’t panic.
Randomly throwing money at advertising (on something like Facebook ads or blogs) is a bad idea. Any advertising should be done with a well-thought out and well-researched plan. To get a good return on your investment here you must consistently and carefully advertise.
Splashing huge “50% off all Necklaces this week!!!” signs on your online shop is another dumb move. There’s nothing that screams  “I’m desperate to pay my bills” then huge discounts. And really, is your work priced high enough that you can lose the 50%? And think of all your customers who bought your work at full price in December, how will they feel seeing it discounted now?
Sales aren’t consistent throughout the year, that’s just a part of running your micro business. Since you’re not busy making sales right now it’s a really good time to take care of some behind the scenes work. Here’s a list of 10 things to do this week to get yourself ahead.
Catch up on your paperwork. Are your expenses up to date? Do you have a budget for 2013?
Research new ways of doing things. A great example is to research credit card processing systems. Technology changes constantly and this leads to all sorts of new options. Read the fine print on some of your contracts and see if there are better ways of doing things.
Organize your office. Those piles of papers can be gone through, photos pinned to your inspiration board, bookshelves tidied.
Go over all your supplies and make detailed lists of exactly what you do have.  All those little bags of supplies, yes, we all have them tucked into dark corners. Pull them out and take a detailed inventory.
Take a look at your photos and maybe reshoot some.
Research a course, sign up to learn something new.
Experiment with new ideas and make something new. When your customers are back in buying mode it would be great for you to have new work for them to choose from.
Check out what your competition is doing. Go ahead, surf the net and visit your competition’s website. See what shows they’re doing, what online shopping cart service they’re using, where they are advertising.
Look into some new ways of promoting your business. There’s facebook business pages, twitter, linkedIn, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, amongst others. Really, there are too many options. Since we can’t do them all take a good long look at them and decide if you want to participate in one or several of them. Then do it.
Make friends and build up your network. Most of us work alone in our studios (which might be a corner of the kitchen table) but we need a network to survive. It is much easier to run a micro business with help from our colleagues. Go ahead, send an email to someone you admire, call another crafter up and ask to meet for coffee, leave a comment on someone’s blog.  
Use this downtime wisely, soon you’ll be so busy selling you’ll wish there was 10 minutes so that you could take care of that mountain of paper! 

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