11 months ago
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Keep it Loose and Keep it Tight ....finding the proper balance in an out of balance world.
Small business owners seem to wear a lot of hats, often all at the same time It is certainly true for me! The fourth quarter of every year seems to provide extra challenges for me ...and for most business owners who are also wives, mothers, caretakers, etc. Family commitments rise during the fall months (school functions, sporting events, extra socializing and visits from family). Business commitments also tend to increase. After all, it is shopping season and you need to "get while the gettins' good"! I have an added component tossed into the mix....the big industry trade shows happen in January. Those shows require considerable prep work in the months prior to the actual event, so the holiday season usually finds me tense and distracted too much of the time.
It is during this period that it is easy for me to feel out of control...I pedal faster, then a little faster, and even faster still. I conduct a Priority Triage so as to take stock and reassess my commitments. Family priorities trump business priorities almost every single time. Good for family, but bad for business. I work hard, in the words of Amos Lee, to "keep it loose and keep it tight" in an effort achieve a successful balance. It is not always an easy task and I am constantly reassessing---personally and professionally.
What is the Crafty Retailer to do?
Review and refine and then refine some more.
Traveling to trade shows as a store owner is part work/part play. Traveling as a vendor is primarily work --- physically and emotionally. It is also exhilarating --- getting to meet your customers face to face, seeing what the competition is up to, hoping for positive feedback. I would not miss it!
....Except I made the decision not to go as a vendor this year. The price is too high.
Not the booth fee, not the hotel fees, not the plane ticket....not any of that stuff. Mind you....I am aware of those fees and never mind paying them. We are in a down economy so it is even more important then ever to attend trade shows and industry events.
.......and yet, I am not going. The price is simply too high. The price? Almost two weeks. Yup....12 days away from my family.
I am a homebody. I love my business, but I love my other world, too. I love my husband, my kids, my animals, my life. My "baby girl" is 17... a few blinks away from adulthood. My eldest graduated from college in December and will soon be moving across the country to follow his dream. My middle son is a minute away from shadowing his brother's footsteps. I recently buried two of the pets of my children's youth. 12 days away from home? I cannot do it this year. The price is simply too high.
I am at peace with the decision but there is a part of me that is still somewhat shocked that I made it. I always exhibit at Tucson. While I feel all warm and fuzzy family-wise, I am cognizant that choices have consequences. So...I decided to hedge my bets, as it were!
I am delighted to have been asked to teach the Nuno Felt Scarf Workshop at Swarovski's Create Your Style Event on February 3. I made the decision to do a bit more teaching this year, so the workshop will further my business plans and it should be a heck of a lot of fun. Register here. I am also conducting a free Felted Soap demonstration on Friday that could put me in front of potential customers.
Moreover, I will have the opportunity to actually walk the trade show...something that I haven't been able to do in many years since I was the one behind the booth. Finally, I am planning to invite my customers to a free Craft Social (details to follow in a future post, but the necklace pictured below will provide a bit of a hint). Yup, it seems that I will have an opportunity to do some finely tuned marketing and promotion after all. Best of all....I will be away from my family for less than 5 full days.
Will there be any fallout? I am holding my breath....and will let you know in March. My competition will be out in full force....better staffed and better financed. It will be interesting to compare the numbers to years past to determine whether there was a substantive difference to the bottom line. I will keep you posted!
JUST PUTTIN' IT OUT THERE............So what about you? What happens when personal and business priorities collide in your crafty world? Inquisitive minds want to know!
In other news....Two new "Finallys" to announce:
I finally got the Aussie wholesale shopping cart functional and I finally finished my latest fiber necklace. It has four very large Swarovski crystal stones embedded in the felt (The drop at the bottom has a 40mm stone!). The necklace was much more fun....the website damn near killed me. Thank goodness for free customer support at Volusion. Please let me know if you encounter any snafus with the computer and we will resolve them as quickly as possible. Users are required to register in order to access pricing to better protect our customers. Check it out!