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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Business Chat - Your Review

Yay! I survived another holiday season! I made it through several grueling shows, shipped all my online orders on time and still managed to make gingerbread cookies! That means I had better balance in life this year than I did last year! It’s all in the planning people, meticulous planning and sticking to it. Of course for every one thing I did manage to accomplish there are 5 other things that I’d hoped to do but didn’t. While I’m getting better at planning there is definitely room for improvement. It’s time to start working on the 2012 plan of action.

As we move into January sales slow down from their peak in December. It’s very tempting when business is slow to let it drift, after all there’s no sales happening and there’s books to read and cookies to bake! Even though I may not be selling or making anything right now I still have to put some work in. There are times when you work in the business and times when you work on it. Now is the time to work ON it.

At the end of every year I have one major task that must be done in order to ensure that next year will be even better than this year. My annual review.  My review is not just how I functioned in my “job”, or how well the company did, it’s also about setting goals and milestones for the upcoming year. No matter how small your company is I think a review is critical to your future. A review allows you to see exactly where you are now so that you can map out how to get where you want to go.

My annual review consists of 3 steps:
Step 1: Review the Previous Year
Step 2: Outline Goals and Overall Focus for Next Year
Step 3: Plan how I will achieve these goals.

The point of step 1 is to see what I managed to achieve in the past year (and pat myself on the back) and to see where I currently stand. To start I look back on the year and ask myself a series of questions. The questions start very simply:
What went well in 2011?
What did not go well in 2011?

Since I did a review last year I look over the goals I set to see how I did with them. Did everything happen as I expected? Probably not, but it’s interesting to compare results with expectations. In a micro business such as mine, goals aren’t just about dollar figures. I also have goals for learning, goals for balancing business and personal, as well as milestones for business.

In step 2 I think about the year to come. What is my focus this year? And within that focus what are the actual goals I want to achieve.
Think of your own business, what do you think you can achieve in the next 12 months? Goals can be anything: participate in one craft show, or sell 10 pairs of earrings, enrol in a class, start a blog (and keep it up), get a website, apply for a grant, whatever you think you want to do.

Remembering that the goals need to be measurable is one of the most important predictors of success in the coming year. The more specific a goal the more likely it is to happen. Rather than saying “I want to sell my work” a better goal would be “I want to participate in one craft show next summer” or “I want to set up an online store by June 1”.

For step 3, I take each goal and think, “What do I need to do to achieve this?” I list the steps needed to reach that goal in as much detail as possible and then put those steps on a calendar.

Once I’ve completed my review, my calendar with milestones is put on my wall where I can see it. I also enter these into my online calendar so that deadlines (like show application dates and class enrolment dates) don’t pass by.

Starting and running a small business is hard work. Balancing a personal life on top of this is tough. Trying to do this without a map would be insane. As busy as we all are at this time of year you owe it to yourself to set aside a bit of time and plan out how you can conquer the world in the next year. Set your goals high. Take some time to do this right, and you’ll thank yourself later.

Friday, December 30, 2011

More insanely fabulous book art

I had intended to post something different today, but I find I'm obsessing over book art since my post on Tuesday. Here's more :-)  Clicking on the image will take you to pinterest, then clicking on the image again, will lead you to the blog, or website where you can discover more information regarding the artists. It's a slippery slope - time well worth wasted in this case.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New This Week

Our Week Off

Hope you had a lovely holiday, and are having a nice, easy week. I know I'm not! I had a major computer hardware failure - which has resulted in days and days of reinstalling and re-patching and re-upgrading software. I can tell you right now which major software companies are big heroes with me for ease of recovery - and which aren't!
96911945762-27 Metal Beads - Pandora/Euro Style -  And They Swam All Over the Dam - Brass Oxide (1)Nothing new this week - unless you count all the renovations at our new location! We are like a duck - outwardly we appear to be calmly and serenely sailing along - while under the water we are paddling like mad! Normally - we'd be taking a well-deserved rest - but this year, we're planning and packing and designing! Moving a home is a breeze compared to the tornado of moving a retail business!
Here's a snap shot of what is going on under the deceptively calm waters:
  • Old walls have come down, and new walls have been framed and drywalled.
  • The lampworking and metal working studio floors, plus other utility areas have been painted with a non-slip epoxy paint. New laminate flooring is being installed in the show room.
  • New handicapped accessible washroom is being added, and the front entrance has had a ramp added.
  • New signage is being designed for the front entrance.
  • An intercom is being added - so when students arrive late for classes after hours - they can just buzz to be let in.
  • New lighting is being installed. (The electrician is in awe of the amazing wiring job that was done by the previous occupant. Seriously.)
Next up will be painting and moving in the cabinets and installing fixtures and furniture. It's all soooo exciting!
(Oh - and the reason WHY we haven't given out the address of the new location yet is because - sure as shootin' - someone will get confused and go there before we are open. Just sayin'. )

12 Projects of Christmas!
Hope you are enjoying the 12 projects of Christmas - it's a lot of fun for Jen and I to see each other's new projects pop up every day - as we worked in isolation from each other. It's also fun to see how much license we had to take with the theme in order to come up with an idea!

Golden Rings
Geese A Layin
Swans a' Swimming
Milky Made

Ladies Dancing
Ten Lizards Leaping
11 Pipers
Drummers Drumming

And, if you haven't been following our blog - you should make a point of checking out this new way to make earrings!
Cluster Drops - a New Way to Make Earrings!
I should qualify this - as I have a hard time believing no one else has thought of it - but even Jen says she hasn't seen this before. Anyway - it IS quick and easy and has lots of design possibilities.

Holiday Closings!
Annnnnnyway - the storefront is closed, as usual for the week between Christmas and New Years, and will reopen on Monday, January 2. However, our trusty robot lackeys (er - computers) will continue to take online orders - but there may be a few days delay in shipping in the new year, as we catch up.
See you all next year!!!!!!

Wonderful stuff all over the site, so go ahead, click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you are feeling intrepid, (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Incredible Edible

We continue along with our week long series of articles I find particularly inspiring, and/or heartwarming, as I take the week off to spend with the kids. Happy holidays!

The village of Todmorden is well on it's way to self-sufficiency. Pick your carrots at the police station, your herbs near the graveyard, and your tomatoes along the riverbank. I love this!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's important that a story is not too long....

I hope you've all had a wonderful holiday, and are recovering from food and drink overload! I'm taking the week off to spend with the kids, but I thought I'd share some fantastic little stories I've come across over the course of the week. Some may be old news, some new to you, but all have caused my heart to leap. Enjoy!

To @edincityoflit ‘A gift’ LOST (albeit in a good book) This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas…. “No infant has the power of deciding….. by what circumstances (they) shall be surrounded.. Robert Owen

Follow along as various Scottish libraries were anonymously gifted with wondrous paper creations.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cluster Drops - A new way to make earrings

Jen commented in our currently running "Twelve Earrings of Christmas" - that she was relying pretty heavily on wire wrapping as a technique. Truthfully - there just aren't that many ways to make earrings - the constraint of size and weight is a significant restriction - and 99% of earring-making boils down to beads and head pins.

And while I really don't believe that there is anything "truly new" under the sun - I think you might find this technique to be fresh, extremely versatile, easy, quick, and very gratifying. I certainly don't seem to be able to stop making earrings with it!

In a nutshell, this calls for
  • some very fine wire, like a 28 gauge, 
  • a drop bead, (briolette, pear drop, whatever, something with an off centre hole, designed to hang) and
  • some accompanying beads (can be drops or not) and 
  • the earring finding of your choice 

Also, wire cutters and round nose or small bail making pliers - for wrapping the loop.

 (For these earrings, I am using drops from our Cubic Zirconia collection.)

Start with about 10 inches of wire - finer gauges are best - I did all of these with 28 gauge wire.

Thread your drop bead onto the wire, slide it to the centre, fold the wire in half, and twist the wire for a couple of rotations. Actually - it's easier to hold the wire and rotate the bead, but the end result is that the wire twists.

Separate the wires and thread your selected beads on the two wires. The two sides don't have to match, but it helps if they are more or less the same length ...
... which these actually are - once you pick it up and shake the beads down the wire.
 Now, bring the wires back together, and hold them together, and twist the wires together a couple of times.

 Next, with the two wires together, make a wrapped loop, using both wires, but treating them as a single wire. (So, just grab the two wires together, wrap (both at the same time) around the pliers to make the loop, and then wrap back down over itself and cut off.)
 Add to the earring finding of your choice.

All of these are made with the same basic technique.

Advanced stuff - You can vary it up to change the look!

One Swarovski drop, plus bicones. No twist at the drop. 

 Twist at top, and add a couple of twists to the part with the bicones, after.

The Ruby Fuchsia Cubic Zirconias.
 Thread to the center - ignore that tail of wire, I shot it laying on the earring finding.
 Plus two beads, one on each side
 More beads, two on each side.
 Twist again
 And finish with a wrapped loop.
 Purple + aqua CZs. Drop in center, twist, beads, twist, loop.

Stock up on fine gauge wire and drop beads, oh, and lots of earring findings! Have fun!