Friday, April 26, 2013

What Would I Do With $20K?

I recently read a great article by Lisa Jacobs which asked the question, "What would you do if you had $20,000 to invest in your business?"  This little prompt is supposed to help you think about expanding your business and making some long-term goals, so I'm going to go ahead and make my own list:

What would I do if I had $20,000 to invest in Buttons and Things?

1.  NEW EQUIPMENT: The button press that I own is not the fanciest, but it is perfectly fine for the sales volume I have right now.  However, one updated piece of equipment that I could use right now is an automatic circle cutter, which would speed up button production immensely.

2.  MY OWN WEBSITE: I already have a website set up for my shop that points users to etsy.  What I'm talking about here is a full-on e-commerce website where I can cut out the middle-man.  That would be cool.

3.  ADS EVERYWHERE: The only place I advertise right now is through etsy's search ads.  I have dabbled with placing ads on facebook and on ravelry, but never stuck with it because I was getting a pretty low ROI....  but wouldn't it be cool if ROI wasn't a factor (initially) and I had an unlimited advertising budget so I could try out lots of places to reach knitters and other creative people?

4.  HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT: Sometimes I get really into my social media efforts, and other times I just let all my networks languish.  Wouldn't it be great to have a virtual assistant on call who could monitor your social media marketing whenever you just aren't feeling it?

5.  CUT MY HOURS BACK AT MY DAY JOB: Right now I would classify my etsy shop as more of a hobby than an actual business. What's the difference?  A hobby is something you do when you (1) feel like it and (2) have spare time.  On the other hand, a business is something that you need to tend to even if you are busy and even if you're really not feeling it today.  It's hard to treat my shop as anything other than a hobby when I'm already working a full time job, so, if I really had $20K to spend, I'd invest a good portion of it on subsidizing my income so I could devote a few "business hours" each day to the shop and not try to cram everything in during my "free time."

Where does this leave me?

Honestly, I'm a little lost on how I can take this list and turn it into actionable goals.  I guess I would have to say that, of the five things listed, number five is probably my biggest priority.  I think that having more quality time to devote to my business is going to be the most important thing to it's growth.  I don't really need the fancy equipment or hired help as much as I need to put my full effort into the shop.  Since I don't have $20K (yet!) I can't afford to devote several hours a week to this, but maybe I could convince myself to just find as little as 15 minutes a day, every day, to devote to my biz.  This is such a small amount of time that it won't require me to cut back my hours at my day job, but it won't (inordinately) cut into my free time either.  OK!  It's a plan!

What do you think?  What would you do if you had $20K?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Another little etsy shop!

I'm happy to announce that I am opening another little etsy shop!  It's my own blog design business, Creative Counsel Blog Design!  Yay!  In this blog, I'm still just going to be focusing on the growth of my main etsy shop, Buttons and Things, but I just wanted to let you know that I'm running another shop which I may refer to from time to time.
The challenge with this new shop is that blog design is an extremely saturated market on etsy, so I think it's going to be tough standing out from the crowd.  Luckily, this is just something I want to do on a very part-time basis, so I will be fine with a low sales volume.

Friday, April 5, 2013

When It's Time to Seek Professional Help

I like to think of myself as a jack-of-all trades, and I think a lot of etsy sellers feel the same - we are all crafty, entrepreneurial spirits, unafraid to take on new challenges.  Sometimes it's hard for us to admit that there are things we just can't do on our own and admit it's time to seek professional help.  For me, it was designing a new logo.  I like to think that I have some pretty mad graphic design skills, and I'm sure that if I really applied myself I could have designed a great new logo myself, but, for the reasons I outlined below, I decided to punt the project to a professional.  And I'm so glad I did!

It's time to seek professional help when you could do it yourself, BUT....

1.  You have more money than time.  Sometimes it's just a matter of dollars and cents.  Your time is valuable, and you need to prioritize how you spend it.  For me, I have a day job that pays by the hour.  I estimated that it would take me X number of hours to design my own logo vs. Y dollars to pay someone to do it for me.  It turns out that it was cheaper to just pick up a few extra hours at work and hire a professional to do the project, rather than doing it myself.

2.  You just aren't that excited about the project.  Sometimes it's not just a matter of dollars and cents.  If something sounds fun, then who cares if it is more economical to pay someone else to do it?  But if the project doesn't sound fun... then it's time to ask yourself if it would be worth it to just delegate.  In my situation, I tried to sit down and design a new logo several times, but I just couldn't get into it.  It felt more like a chore than a creative opportunity.  Even thought I  could do it, I didn't want to.

3. You need a professional eye.  As much as us creative-types like to think we are good at everything, the truth is that sometimes a professional is simply going to do a better job.  I designed my first logo and I never really cared for it, and I wanted my new logo to be something I would love, so I decided it would be worth it to pay someone to make me a high quality logo that I can be proud of.

4.  You want to support another entrepreneur.  Do you like someone else's work?  Then why not give them some business?  There's absolutely nothing wrong with with being a consumer as well as a producer.  It's how the economy works.  Embrace it.