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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Networking Saturday; Free to Promote Your Shop, Social Sites, or Blog 10

"Understanding your business is critical" "Before you start you need a business plan"
How many times have you heard something on the order of that?  Often we hear very good solid business advice from the experts (people have degrees in business, successful business men and woman and multimillionaires) but what the heck does that mean to someone who is selling a few handmade or vintage items on Etsy?  At some times nothing. They are running with the big dogs and can afford to invest in advertising and advisers and their networks are beyond our scope.

With that being said I have found that while those helpful words of advice and the articles in Forbes magazine are not really all that applicable to me there are kernels of information that I really need to pay attention to. The problem is how do we tease out this information and apply it to what we do so that some day we can be running with the big dogs (if that is the goal.)  That is where I and hopefully some of our guest bloggers will come in.  We speak from the experience of the pup and have an aspiration to be the next big dog so we invest time trying to understand and apply business information designed for big business to the little guy.

So what does understanding your business really mean to us?  Most important, I have come to realize is that you really need to know why you are doing this and that will determine the amount of time you invest and what you do.



Spongebob Wood Yard Art Decoration Christmas Holiday 4' Christmas yard decorations
This adorable image came
from Pinterest
Are you doing this because your husband can't take another handmade wood sign in his yard? then maybe you are someone that has opened up a shop so that you can continue to craft without guilt.  What's your goal? maybe to share your hobby with other's, get some positive feedback so you can show to yourself that you are good at what you do and make some friends.  Etsy is a great place and networking is more about building friendships rather than business partners.


Are you someone that has a BA in history and adores sharing Americana with others?  What's your goal? Maybe bringing life back into old pieces that may have otherwise been lost in some hoarder's pile or preserving our history and the story of America by making sure that it isn't discarded into the landfills.  Is this your hobby? Are you satisfied with a small shop of elegant finds or do you want to develop it into a true business like the American Pickers?  There is nothing wrong with either but you will definitely take a different approach to whichever it is, so it is necessary for you to know where you want to take your shop.


For myself I have just recently asked myself these questions and can confidently say that I want to be running with the big dogs someday.  It may not be through my gift tags and postcards but my little mind is always searching for that next newest and greatest idea that may be "the one."  For me I need to invest my time wisely because I am not just satisfied to wait for my ship to come in; I love my lifestyle and in order to accomplish this while building my business I need a good day job.  Unfortunately for me (and most Americans) it means long hours and applying myself deeply into my current career leaving slim pickings for my little business.  But alas those are my goals, my passions, and my drive so I work at it.

One of my goals this year is to create a solid, well thought out business plan.  While many of you may have done this already I am one of those that had went through the motions and got it done years ago but it didn't have real meaning at the time.  There are several free templates out there and I suggest that anyone that has not done this yet or have done it and are like me hasn't revisited it in years, to take a minute to put one together.  Really analyze what you are doing, where you going, why you are doing what you doing etc. and get it done in writing so that you can revisit it and adjust it as you need to.

Would you go on a road trip to see Mount Rushmore without a map?  Well then why would you expect to arrive at your business destination without a business plan?  (while I was just typing this I thought to myself yeah Idiot why didn't you update your business plan? so in other words I am just as much a procrastinator as anyone)

Here are some excellent resources to get you started and I hope that you have a chance to build the business you are looking for.
Info:
The Etsy Blog/How to Write a Creative Business Plan In Under an Hour
http://outright.com/blog/how-to-create-a-simple-business-plan-for-your-etsy-shop/
http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Business-Plan
http://www.forbes.com/business-plan-template-what-to-include/
https://www.stcloudstate.edu

Templates:
http://www.lawdepot.com
http://www.sba.gov/tools/
http://www.entrepreneur.com
Opens an actual Word Document Template from Purdue.Edu **********************************************************************************************************************************
If you have any great networking opportunities you would like me to feature please contact me directly at ButterflyInTheAttic at yahoo dot com or post the information in the comments section.  I will add it to next week's post. 

So now a little homework; think about some of the tools you really rely on, Please share in the comments. Also if you are willing to be a guest blogger let me know I would love to have your take on networking and your expertise.

My homework:  of course, to research some of my barriers for better developing G+, Pinterest, etc. Also I will be investigating and testing some more tools that will help me increase my traffic and sales.  And of course sharing this information with my wonderful followers.

Now lets have some Networking Fun!!!


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Post any of your family friendly sites (blogs, shops, FB, etc.)  What ever sites you would like to share. 

Please help promote this post using your social networks.  Here is an easy one:


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2 comments:

The Gossamer Tearoom said...

Colleen,
I think you have made some very interesting points here! I would love nothing better than to have one (or more) of my Etsy businesses make working for someone else unnecessary. Having to take it easy for quite a lot of last year afforded me the time to work really hard on getting more sheets done and listed in my collage sheet shop and consequently, I have seen my sales grow there. Also, I find that I enjoy using Pinterest a lot and since I have converted my personal account to a business one, I think that pinning items from my shops does lead to more views (and hopefully) more sales there. My recent challenge to myself has been to utilize Twitter more and I have seen my views increase each week. At some point soon, I will take the time to take your advice here and work on a business plan. Thank you so much for all the research you have put into your post today!

Betty

Butterfly In The Attic said...

Thank you Betty. Pinterest is something I need to work more with. It is a very good platform.

Have a great day
Colleen