Hey, designers, artisans and other makers, this post is for you.
It’s mid-January now and WHEW, you made it through the holidays. Hopefully, you were able to take a few days of down time, but now it’s time to get yourself organized. Before you know it, Valentines’ Day will be upon us, and if you’re not ready or getting ready for it now, you’re going to feel like you’ve missed out on a big selling opportunity. Plus, feeling like you’re already behind at the beginning of the year is just not the tone you want to set for yourself.
Here is a simple, but critical tip I’ve used to help keep my focus on big picture stuff. Ready? Here it is; Schedule everything! I know this sounds kind of basic, but you have no idea how many people I talk to who just aren’t thinking far enough in advance to help their businesses grow.
You know the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail", well, it is very true.
Doing this simple yet very important step has served me well over the years. Get your hands on a 12 month view calendar, the kind where you can see all 12 months on one sheet. Nothing fancy & you don’t even have to buy it. You can get a free one here. Print it out and get to marking.
Here is a link to a great, free resource of different calendars. http://www.calendarlabs.com/2017-calendar-templates
Start penciling or highlighting anything that needs to be scheduled. Trips, family vacations, planned events, classes, seminars, anything that requires time and affects your work schedule. Don’t forget trade shows, trunk shows, craft shows, or any markets you participate in annually or would like to. All holidays (especially occasions involving the purchasing of gifts).
Once you have most of the events plotted on the calendar then you can much more easily see how to plan your design, production, and selling times. This calendar won’t replace whatever calendar or planner you use currently. This year at a glance calendar is a practical cheat sheet that you will keep somewhere visible in your studio, office or workspace. Seeing this calendar on a daily basis will help you focus on your bigger goals. I found this tool helped keep me from getting sidetracked and falling into projects that were not getting me closer to my real objectives, which was growing my business.
Being the creative creatures we are, most designers need a visual reminder. It’s just like that beautiful piece of leather, or those gorgeous beads, if they’re buried away and you don’t see them, there is a good chance you’ll forget about them. The same can be said for upcoming sales, events, or other times that you really need to prepare for.
Be sure to update and include all the events you identified in your regular calendar and begin planning your workflow. I typically have my year at a glance calendar somewhere visible, like a bulletin board near my desk, so I can make edits as needed. You might be thinking this is a no brainer, but has there ever been a time when you thought an event was way far out in the future, only to realize (too late) that the days have slipped away leaving you unprepared? I sure have.
Working this way will help you be more effective and productive. For example if you are or hope to sell your work to stores, you need to be aware of when buyers go to markets, and shop for their stores. Developing your collections and marketing efforts to coincide with the times that buyers are buying, will increase your success. You must know when stores and retailers are buying for spring, summer, fall, winter, and all other markets.
Another example of crucial scheduling is fourth quarter activity. I am too often surprised by the lack of urgency or delays when it comes to booking sales, shows, and events when most of all retail sales occur in the last quarter of the year. These are so important and I believe should be scheduled preferably no later than end of August to September if possible. I know that sounds early, but consider that the last three months of the year is where you make most of your profit for the entire year. You have to start booking your markets, parties, and trunk shows well in advance. When you see these blocks of time on the calendar it will help put things into perspective.
Another example of plotting and scheduling out your work is when a holiday such as Valentines Day is coming up. In general you should always know your inventory, but if not, this is the time do an inventory. Knowing what you have on hand, will allow you to make production decisions and schedule as needed. If you have a trunk show or sale that coincides with the holiday then you need to allow time for making, pricing, and marketing for the sale, all of which should have start and stops times. If you are selling online then you need to schedule your social media and marketing posts, as well as considering your shipping dates in accordance with the holiday. Be sure to inform your fans about their delivery options.
I hope you find this advice helpful and put it into practice. Sometimes the most basic things are the ones we overlook, don’t over look the obvious. Schedule your own success.