Handmade products have had a "boom" period in the last 5 years - mostly due to households needing more income, and the determination of Mothers not wanting to return to the workforce.
And from Australian consumers also – people want unique, personalised goods for their children, home or for themselves. We love to shop online, and there is nothing better than buying something, lovingly handmade just for us!
So is working from home the perfect scenario?
Well, yes and no!
There are many pros and cons of running a creative home business – on the upside, you do get to enjoy all those special moments, you do get a sense of achievement of earning money and working for yourself, and you do get to do this in your pyjamas (if you choose!)
On the downside, most of us struggle with set work hours. There are many, many distractions from working throughout the day, between attending to kids, social media (hmmm, it's a good and bad distraction), housework and I know many struggle with phone calls – it's hard to take a call when the kids are near killing each other in the background over a piece of Lego!
So good time management, staying focused and working set hours is crucial to success.
I know it's so hard to stick to this one – you have just launched your business – your ideas are flowing and you can't wait to make that sale. You spend hours researching websites, selling websites, creating an image, a brand and looking to grow your business. All is wonderful for many weeks, months or even longer – the sales are coming in – people love your products then Kapoom – it hits you like a tonne of bricks. You feel fatigued, unmotivated and wonder if it's all worth it. I could safely say that ALL of us at one stage or another have felt like this. A feeling that consumes you, makes you snappy (normally at your children or loved ones) and feeling in general just plain miserable! So what can you do? You need to work set hours – I know it's near impossible to work 9-5 BUT set the hours you would like to work in the day and stick to it. It does not matter if you choose to work 2, 4 hours or 8 hours a day, jot down the time you have worked and once those hours are up, finish up for the day. I guarantee you will remain feeling fresh and motivated.
What a wonderful tool for small business. Many small businesses can't and would not survive without it, but don't make it your main focus. Again set a time limit to post, do a little marketing and answer enquiries. Challenge yourself to NOT be distracted trawling through pages on Facebook, or getting caught up oodling over a million images on Pintrest.
Ensure to give yourself a day or two break. Remember before you had children and there was such a thing as a weekend? We need a break from work to unwind, destress and generally not think about work. So make sure you give yourself a little you time. Relax one evening with a book, or run yourself a nice candlelit bath. Restore your mind and you will look forward to working the next day.
This could be a hard one – many of us start our business from a hobby, so now is a great time to find another! If you sew for business, buy some beads and make yourself a nice bracelet or necklace, or even just create something for yourself. No matter what you do for business, try and find something that you may enjoy just for you – not for a customer, or a friend or your children. If you have a creative business then no doubt you are creative, so why not dabble with a new craft just for fun!
How many people forever check emails? (ok my hand is up also) But when you think about it – if you email a larger business through the week, do they get back to you on Saturday or Sunday or at 1am in the morning? Probably not – so whilst again you want to stay on top of things and answer those enquiries, give yourself an email free day or two. Seriously the emails can wait till Monday.
Don't let slow periods in business get you down. The last thing you need is to make yourself stressed, and lie awake at night wondering why people are not buying. Use these slower times to organise your workshop, have a special day out with the children, or treat yourself to something nice. Relax a little and enjoy it! Focus this time on doing those jobs that are at the bottom of your to-do list. Take some fresh images of your work, work on your website or selling site or create a new product.
Most of us know when we are most productive. We may have a dedicated work day, or get work done in record speed early morning or are a night owl and love the peace of the household after a busy day. Set your most important tasks for these times / days and get them done then. If you know mornings to lunch are a nightmare in your house, don't push to get those important things done as you will end up cranky, frustrated and unproductive. I know sometimes an hour task, could take 4 hours if you are forever interrupted, and this can lead to frustration very quickly, so dedicate your hour task to when the children are occupied and you can get in and get it done then.
Ah yes, we all have them and whatever they are, you get sucked in every day. If you can't just get on Facebook for 10 minutes for "work" purposes then don't get on it – same for, Pintrest, twitter, email or whatever it is that distracts you. You will be amazed how much you can do in that time, if you eliminate your time wasters. As mentioned in tip #2 dedicate x amount of time on social media and stick to it.
It's so easy to get caught up with deadlines and must finish orders, but it's important to spend special time with your children and do those fun things, that you did not want to miss out on by returning to 9-5 work.
If you can just take 1 or 2 of these tips and slowly work them into your working agenda, you will have some clear head space, and a refreshed outlook on your business.
Alison Bolakis is a busy mum of 3 (almost 4) young children and runs a successful online business called Handmade HQ. Alison has been an avid crafter her entire life, with over 15 years' experience on the Craft Market scene. Alison loves to share her experience and knowledge in running a successful online small business, with others in the handmade industry .
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