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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get Proactive --- the Crafty Retailer will Manage her Business, not simply Respond to it!

I have always loved new beginnings.  The start of a fresh, new school year excited me as a kid.  I liked organizing my new school supplies.  Yup, I was THAT one...the annoying one who always did her homework and reminded the teacher if she forgot to collect it.  My sincere apologies to all of my classmates---I am much better now... really...I am!  

I still love new beginnings---the dreaming, the optimism, the hope.  Like the rest of the world,  I have my standard resolutions:  this will be the year I finally deal with the family photos, lose the weight, quit giving my dog so many treats so that she can lose her well as the  more important ones:  speak only with respect to those I love and keep my mouth shut if I am afraid it won't come out that way...and so on.  Yup, to my optimistic January self  everything is possible and I have 12 months to get it done!  Totally "doable!"  Right?  Right!   C'mon...I know you know what I am talking about!

What about your business dreams?  Have you been thinking just as hard about those?  Sometimes I find myself so busy in the course of my day/week/month/life  that it is tempting to steal time from other parts of my life just to keep up.  We are all busy, yet some business owners always seem to be moving forward, while others are forever racing to catch up.

What is the Crafty Retailer to do?

MAKE THE BUSINESS OF BUSINESS A PRIORITY IN 2010!  My typical day is jam packed and I am sure that yours is equally so.  There is never enough time.  This is how my yesterday played out:

5:30  Wake up, make coffee, walk dog.  Note:  I live on 1 1/2 acres of totally fenced property.  I  never walked a dog to "do her business."  Ever.  I opened the door and said "Go out."  The dogs would go out and I went about my life until someone barked to come in.  It was a great system.  Unfortunately, when my pal Alaska died in September, her buddy (14 year old Trixie) decided that she would only do her thing while being walked on a leash. WHAT??????  Yes, indeed, old Trixie has decided that she wants to be properly walked, like all of the other dogs in the neighborhood.    Several accidents later, I learned the new system.

6:10  Wake up daughter, then empty diswasher

6:20  Wake up daughter again and this time, MEAN IT

6:30 Make daughter's lunch for school.  Yup, she is 17 and totally capable of smearing peanut butter on some bread, but I like feeling that I am nurturing her with this little effort.   In fact, if I am really channeling my inner Mrs. Cleaver I will make her old fashioned hot chocolate to drink while she drives herself to school.  Mmm Mmm...a Chocolate Mom Hug!  There is nothing better!

6:40  Open the gate and wave good by to daughter

7:15 ASAP..get dressed and ready for the day

7:45 House is straightened  and a load of laundry is merrily bouncing around in the washer.

7:50  Walk outside and travel the few steps to work (Yeah... no commute.  I am really lucky).  Check email and get down to business.

8:30  Leave for mammogram appointment.

9:45  Thank God THAT is over for another year!  All is well in Boobland.  Take a quick detour to pick up feed for the chickens. 

10:30  Back to work.  Oops.  Almost forgot that I needed to speak to daughter's Guidance Counselor regarding a school issue.  Make the call, leave a message.  Back to work.   Work, work, work.  Give the dogs a treat because they are so darn cute.   OMG! No wonder they are hungry...I forgot to feed them breakfast.  Immediately stop what I am doing and go back in the house.  Remember to give Rosie the diet food.  Feed dogs, move over laundry.  Back to the office.  Take a few minutes to remember what I was doing and get back to business.  Check my email.  Big mistake...more distractions!  Where was I?  Work, work, work. Call from Guidance Counselor.  Mission where was I?  Work, work, work!  Pop some popcorn for lunch.  Still hungry.  Drink coffee instead of eating anything else.  We are still short staffed due to the holiday.  Argh!  I don't have time to do what I need to do.  Look at the clock.  EEK!  Time is running out!

3:30 Daughter is home from school.  Take a few minutes to connect with her and inquire about the day.  Talk about what is for dinner.  Nag her about homework and messy room.  Try not to sound naggy while I nag.  Hmm...judging by the look on her face it is not working.  Oh well, I am a mom.  I nag, she gets annoyed.  It is what we do!

5:45  Start thinking about dinner.  I have some chicken breasts thawing.  What to make?  Quick internet search.  Chicken Marsala it is!  Shut down the studio.  Go inside and start dinner.  Put on another load of laundry.

6:30  Husband home, dinner almost ready.

7:00  Eat dinner as a family.  Start to decompress.

8:30  Kitchen clean, glass of wine in hand, watch TV with the family.  Try to finish embroidering new felted necklace.  It is so cool~I am totally loving it!

9:30  Daughter heads off to  bed and I throw on a coat to walk Trixie.  Brrrr....cold.  I am not thrilled with this new dog walking system.  Think about Lucky, the 15 year old cat who died last week.  Feel grateful that I still have Trixie to walk.  Let mind wander.  Get distracted thinking  about The Business----Trixie gets a particularly long walk and I have a  work related brainstorm.  Happy  Dog and happy me.  Go back inside the house, but not before making a pitstop in the office.  Check email, write myself a note about the idea I had while walking Trixie.

10:00  Husband watching a movie on HBO.   I turn on the computer to try to do some work but I feel guilty.  I will feel even worse if I don't get this done.  I keep working but try to remain somewhat engaged in the show.

10:30  Decide that I cannot do husband deserves some attention too. Put away the laptop and vow to wake up early tomorrow..will catch up on computer work then.  Scootch closer to my husband and feel like a good wife. Do you see my halo glowing?   Happy sigh.

10:40  Fall asleep on the couch. OOPS.

And so it goes...sometimes I wake up early the next morning and sometimes I don't. Fortunately, while it is true that yesterday represented a typical workday for me, it does not  represent my typical work planning day.  Every business owner should have you?

I have one day every week---usually Wednesday or Thursday--when there is a major rule change.  I do not spend  time on the phone and I do not have much interaction with staff.   I "hermitize" and NOTHING gets in my way.  I do not meet with the accountant, I do not order merchandise, work on the blog, or put our fires.   I do not handle day to day business issues AT ALL.  Planning days are SACRED because they are the days when I move the business forward.  I dream, I plan, I put pencil to paper.  I read marketing books.  I have conversations with my mentor.  I read business blogs and see how I am measuring up.   In short, I focus on the Business of Business!

My Planning Day, which in reality often shrinks to a half a day, has changed my life.  It has clarified my vision and kept me focused on the ball.   The day keeps me fresh and has empowered me.  I am much less reactive, and much more proactive.  You have a lot of time and money invested in your business.  Don't sell it short!  Give it the time it requires in order to be successful.

You might not be able to give yourself a full day each week, so start small.   A few years back I was overwhelmed and sick to my stomach.  The business was in a bad place and there was never enough time in the day.  I happened to be stuck in traffic and I WAS TOO BUSY FOR THIS!  I spent way too much time sitting in traffic.  I was family chauffeur and my husband thought my business was a nice little hobby.  I was frustrated and losing control. 

Fortunately, I stopped feeling sorry for myself long enough to notice that the van in front of my car was marked "Dry Cleaning to Your Door.  Hmmm----a mobile dry cleaning service---perfect for Too Busy Me!  The business number was listed on the van and I used my cell phone to call it, right then and there.  The owner answered and it turned out that he was the driver of the vehicle in front of me.  Better yet, his prices were the same as my regular dry cleaner.  He agreed to follow me home, took the dry cleaning from me and brought it back the next day.  Whew! I found an hour and you can find one too!

In fact, I bet you can find a few extra hours if you get creative and make finding them a real priority.  Get to the store early two or three days each week.  Have an agenda for each of those hours and stick to it.  You will be amazed by what you accomplish!  YOU CAN DO IT ---your business is counting on you!

In other news:  
I am organizing a small group of crafty store owners who "Fly Solo" to network together for support and inspiration.  We currently have a group of ten brave souls who operate without a partner or any full time help.  These ladies represent a variety of craft genres--they are bead, quilt, and yarn shop owners.  If you would like to participate, please send me an email this week.  We will be kicking things off next week---it should be fun and informative for all!


  1. I would love to participate in your small crafty store owners group if possible. Let me know if there is still a opening.

    oh also what kind of dog ist that sleeping in the picture above. It looks like a puggle. I have a puggle "Rocket and he looks just like that"

  2. Welcome to the group...we will make room! I sent you a Questionnaire.

    The dog is actually a French Mastiff---she was given to us by a friend who works 12 to 15 hour days and he simply didn't have the time for her. Alaska was in very poor health so I was hesitant to take in a giant know the rest! She has wriggled and wrestled her way into our hearts and we can't imagine life without her!

  3. I would love to join your Flying Solo Group if you still have room. I just returned from a vacation...which I haven't been on one for a long time so it was just what I needed to help restore some balance. I know I am late but I would really love to share and learn with other owners.

  4. You're in! I just sent you the group should be fun!

  5. Pat,

    I'd like to participate in the flying solo group as well. I am a bead store owner in Casper, Wyoming. Do you still have room? If it's too late, that's okay. Thanks!