So you’ve managed to get your products in front of a few buyers, people are really liking what you’re making, you’re getting low on stock and now you need to work out how to fit making more but that’s not all you need to fit into your schedule, if you’re selling online you also need to write descriptions, take product shots, plan time for listing items, posting to promote on social media.
Then there’s finances, keep up with paying bills, budgeting for supplies, working out true costs including shipping costs.
Plus, planning sessions – analysing what’s working and what’s not.
It doesn’t have to… if you put systems into place to stay on top of all that’s necessary to run a successful thriving venture… big or small the discipline required is the same.
“See the vision, look at the mountains. But then, transition your gaze to your feet & start walking.” ~ Rebecca Van Bergen
Scheduling – Blocking Time
When I first started my artisanal business I had one child start primary school, the other only 6 mths old, so I had very limited time to work on my business.
But I was determined to build this one organically & effectively. Having experienced rapid growth in my photography business, ending up a slave to my work I really didn’t want to repeat that.
So, I was very strict on scheduling my time covering all areas of the business, including time to for taking care of myself. If you’re a sole trader you’re the business’ greatest asset, ensuring you take care of yourself is critical.
My second child was a very alert baby from the moment he entered the world, and extremely difficult to get to sleep, my windows of opportunity in the first 12-14mths were extremely small. So, I blocked my time in small chunks.
During the week when we were home alone between school drop off & pick up I’d schedule tasks in 30-45 minute blocks.
May not sound like much to get anything done but, when those time slots are focused on one task it’s amazing how many different tasks can be achieved over the course of a week.
I listed all the areas I need to cover, then broke them down into even smaller chunks, things like marketing, for example, were broken down into; product descriptions; product tags; profiles; website; online store; promotional ideas.
I’d allocate a 45 minute window to achieving one of those tasks expecting to get at least 30mins of work completed in that window.
Another area was Finance, I’d break that down into pricing; budgeting for supplies; calculating shipping; bookkeeping etc…
With production, I recorded the steps and blocked time according to the separate tasks; cutting, sewing, printing, final touches.
Then there were the fun things like, product photography… I set my self themes for my collections, collated props to photograph products based on those themes.
One time slot would be allocated to gathering what I needed to set the scene, then another slot was allocated to actually capturing the shots.
In between I’d have had a time slots for feeding & play time with my little munchkin & eating myself, then I’d come back to the next task in the next time slot once he was down for his next nap.
Blocking time, spreading out tasks like this gave me something to look forward to during those challenging times of having a completely dependant child in tow.
It was something for me to do that was completely for me, was empowering & enjoyable but created building blocks for laying down a solid foundation for my new business.
I also used these time slots to research, learn new skills in areas I needed help with, selling physical products opposed to selling my services & skills as a photographer was quite foreign to me so there was a lot I felt I needed to learn.
To this day still do, I’m constantly taking courses to improve my knowledge & refine a skill in order to step up to the next level, running an effective successful business is an on going pursuit, as the business grows the challenges change.
Having such tight restrictions on my time, along with the unpredictability of children in tow, taught me how to use my time efficiently and get the most out of the precious little uninterrupted time I had.
Even at this stage, 10 years on I allocate time to various tasks.
While I have a lot more time available to me, I also have a much more complicated business now, so the practice of blocking time early on has proven to serve me well now.
Take out your journal:
- List all areas required to be attended to in order for you to keep your operation running. Be sure to include time to take care of you eg. Yoga/Pilates; coffee with a mentor; inspiration time, this could be setting aside time to flick through your favourite book on home decor to trigger ideas for your next collection.
- Write down which days you think’d be best for you to work on certain tasks. eg. I scheduled screen printing on a Sunday when hubby was home to care for our kidlets, so I’d have bigger blocks of time allocated to tasks that required longer sessions. Now days, I schedule time for admin & marketing tasks, like writing these blog posts & newsletter drafts on Monday afternoon. Working from home on a Monday, I’m less likely to be interrupted during tasks that require my undivided attention.
- List areas you could really do with some help with, learn more about… allocate time doing these. As I mentioned earlier I often take courses, aside from that I’d block time to do online tutorials offered through applications I’m trying to understand. eg. setting up a website can be overwhelming but you’ll often find there are tutorials you can do within the site’s app you’re using.
I’ve often have people say to me; but you’re organised… to which I respond with; “You can be too, you just need to find a system that works for you & helps you achieve your desired outcome.”
Running your own business, earning an income doing what you love is going to require time management, thought & planning.
Rather than pushing aside those things you know you really need to learn, do or understand, make time to get them done or learn more about.
It’s much more empowering tackling things you’re not familiar with or don’t really like doing, than it is to pretend they don’t exist… they do exist, and if you don’t put the work in you won’t get the results you desire.
>> A Paper diary with a week to an opening can be more user friendly than an electronic diary. I used electronic diaries for years but switched back to paper a few years ago & haven’t looked back.
>> Keep your journal at hand at all times, to write down ideas, things to consider or attend to, title your notes with a reference to area of the business you’re writing about for easy reference later.
>> Timetabling a Weekly/Monthly schedule allocating tasks can help keep you on track e.g. Money Day which I’ll talk about in my next post.
Yep, next post I’ll be talking about the thing most people hate discussing… money!
I too used to dislike talking about money, but reality is without it, we can’t run a business and I like you I don’t have a wishing well, money tree or cash cow funding my operation so I’ve had to learn to how to think about money in a way that means I can use it reach my goals and live a life I love.
Don’t shy away from this topic, it’ll be one of the most important… keep in mind without cashflow you don’t have a business you have a hobby.
Looking forward to soaring along side of you…
Ps. Remember what Rebecca Van Bergen said; “See the vision, look at the mountains. But then, transition your gaze to your feet & start walking.”
Want to catch up on what you’ve missed out on so far.
Here’s a list of the previous posts: