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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"If it feels good, do it" is not necessarily a good business strategy.

"If it feels good, do it" is a mantra that worked in the 1970's, but it does not qualify as a business plan!  Too many of us react to whatever stimulus is in front of us.    It sure is true of me!  Over the years the "Mom me" learned to go with the flow in order to handle the day to day drama of life.   Wipe this nose, administer first aid to that child, etc.   Although at the time I never thought about having a method to my madness..the fact is that I did have a fuzzy "Mom Plan" floating somewhere in my subconscious.  You probably did too.

You knew your destination, even if you never verbalized it.  In fact, we probably had similar destinations. My goal?  Easy... to raise children who morphed into productive, independent, value centered adult humans.  Knowing where you want to go makes it easier to notice the bumps when you get off track.  Observe your sweet kid  behaving aggressively after a video game orgy?  Bump.  Have a teen daughter who is starting to dress like she should be on MTv?  BUMP.  You pay attention to the bumps so that you will ultimately realize your goal...having Thanksgiving Dinner with offspring/well adjusted adults who still want to visit you after they build happy lives of their own.

So....what is your business plan?  I am talking about more than the nuts and bolts business plan that every business owner contemplates; rather, I am talking about the dreams you have for your business. 

It is important to identify your destination so that you can stay on track.  In the early years my company morphed  as I reacted to external forces.   For example, there was a time when the market called for growth.  I figured that since I had the power to grow my company, then I should grow the company. Duh.  Growth ensued.  Yup, I reacted to the market conditions, but I did not contemplate the ramifications seriously enough.  I simply put a whole lot of effort into growing the business.   One day after "bumps" started feeling more like sinkholes,  I  took a hard  look around me.


I realized that just because I could do something did not mean that I should do it.    Although it was a lesson that took me years to learn (and I am still paying the price for the lumps I took for taking so long to learn it!) it was one worth learning.....And learn it I did!  I think....until next time....

So...back to you....what is your dream for your business?  Do you want to build a neighborhood hangout that promotes warmth and creativity?  Great---make sure that you  follow a plan certain to create such a haven.  Do you want to be the destination for high level crafty education?  Awesome!  Stay on top of the industry and book national instructors to delight your clients.

The bottom line:  If it is broken, fix it!  If customers are not coming in, take a hard look in the mirror and do what it takes to get them in:  host events, send out emails, promote yourself.  If you can't (or won't)  stick to the plan, it is perfectly reasonable to modify your vision or to retire----accept the good and the bad of who you are and move on.  The upside to being a wrinkled old grown-up is that you get to be the boss of you.  

Ideally, your life and your business will work in synergy.   My favorite local yarn store, Fiber Arts,  illustrates this point beautifully.  Roze opened her store about 5 years ago, with a desire to be a fiber arts destination, not simply a yarn shop.  The store was housed in a tiny space in an awkward little strip center.  Nonetheless, I willingly made the pilgrimage to her fuzzy, fabulous storefront.  Roze's enthusiasm for fine yarn was infectious and she successfully (finally!) taught me to knit. No charge, just a friendly smile and lots of encouragement along the way.  There was always a kind customer  available to answer a newbie question if Roze was occupied.  Ravelry exploded onto the scene and everyone seemed to be knitting.There was little in the way of competition and the business grew. 

One day I received an email announcing that Roze had moved the shop to a great new spot down the street.  More space in a  better location came with a concomitant increase in rent.   Competition started to spring up, both the on-line and the brick and mortar variety.  Roze found that life wasn't quite as much fun anymore:  She was suffering from some health issues.  She was so busy that she had no time to knit.  Her dream of moving into other areas of fiber was stymied by her success with high end yarns,  for reasons of space and economy.  Moreover, like most commercial tenants, Roze had personally guaranteed the lease and the rent burden was a gorilla on her back.  She was  able to make  the rent each month, but some months were much easier than others.  The stress started to take its toll and the pressure she felt was apparent to her "regulars." Her dream was turning into a nightmare and Roze quietly devised an exit strategy and made plans to retire as the end of her lease drew near.

Accordingly, I was surprised and delighted to learn that Roze was moving to a new space.  Her emails are full of excitement and enthusiasm.  This is the gal I knew!  Hmmmm....what was going on?

I had a chance to speak with Roze this morning and was amazed by how different she sounded.  She was focused.  She had vision and she had a plan.  She recounted that she was all set to retire when she realized that she didn't really want to retire, after all.  She just wanted "different."  

It is always nice to figure out what we really want, because it makes achieving it so much easier!

Roze moved to a space right next door to her current shop.  It is slightly smaller but superior in a multitude of ways.  The layout is better suited for retail  and Roze negotiated a heck of a price per square foot.  In fact, she has plans to lease additional space to accommodate a new fiber studio.  She said that she realized that her customers needed her and she needed them.  She laughed as she said it, saying she "knew it sounded corny."  No!  It is not corny at all.  The connection we feel is what rocks our world or we wouldn't do what we do for the money we get paid to do it!  We just have to remember to stick to the  plan so that it works for us.

Congratulations, Roze...I am glad that you are sticking around!  Every knitter needs her favorite LYS~

Other News:

NEW TUTORIAL!  Felted Hoop Earrings!

Craft new life into a pair of some tarnished old hoop earrings.  It is incredibly easy and affordable--the perfect Make and Take project for the reluctant felters amongst you!  Seriously, the earrings are almost instant gratification and will appeal to those looking for budget friendly crafting. 

Need some newsletter filler?

This Very Stupid Joke might do the trick!  Warning:  Mild sexual references

Sue and her three beading (Knitting, felting) friends spent were excited to attend a week-end workshop with a national instructor.  They couldn’t wait to get away.  Beads with a side of spa treatments!

As the trip approached, Sue's husband got petulant….he didn’t want her to go, told her they couldn’t really afford it, etc.  Two days before the group was to leave Sue told her friends she would not be joining them. 

Fast forward two days……

The three friends make it to the hotel and are surprised to see Sue sitting at the hotel bar drinking a glass of wine.

Sue explains the turn of events:

"I was at home and my husband came up behind me and put his hands over my eyes and said 'Guess who'?" I pulled his hands off to find him standing there in his birthday suit! He took my hand and led me to our bedroom. The room was scented with perfume, he had two dozen candles on the mantle and rose pedals all over the floor!   The little devil even had had handcuffs and ropes on the pillow!  He told me to tie and cuff him to the bed, so I did.

 And then he said, "Now, you can do whatever you want."
So here I am."

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