You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
Six months has passed since I clicked the buttons 'make visible' on this website and I sat waiting for orders to come in. Miraculously, an order was placed that very night from a kind friend. She bought Florence + Moose coasters, if you're interested, and I nervously wrapped the package, checked the address countless times and hoped to goodness that I had packed the right coasters. The next day, I kid you not, I received three more orders! I was elated. Thanks mum!
Buoyed by this flurry of activity, I climbed back under the duvet. And stayed there for far too long. If you've read my previous blog post, you'll know that as a family we've faced the kind of challenges these last few months that render you utterly exhuasted and utterly empty. How was I meant to launch a creative business when I felt so flat? I have been reflecting on the past six months and decided that there are two important steps to keep moving forward: firstly, be patient with yourself and others; secondly celebrate the small victories.
I will save the first step for another blog post, because it's something I am still working on. For this post, I have three ideas about how to celebrate the small victories, with the purpose of maintaining a positive outlook about your new business - even when creativity is running low.
1. Celebrate that you don't have to reinvent the wheel.
Imagine if there were no other creative businesses from which to learn; no other online shops, or high-street boutiques with the same passions and goals as you. Imagine if there were no marketing coaches or instagram experts to turn to for help. If you were the very first person to have this idea! Thankfully, you don't need to start from anywhere near scratch these days. There is a plethora of advice - in fact, the danger is consuming too much on-line information. I have stuffed my head with advice and am now on a mission to let go of most of it. I stick to the people I know are good for me. My top 3 go-to people for when I need a resource/ need some practical help/ need to feel inspired are:
RESOURCES: Kayte Ferris at Simple and Season. Like me, Kayte is based in peaceful North Wales - her Instagram is awash with the multitude of greys offered by this part of the world. Through her website, Simple and Season, Kayte graciously shares her advice for creative business owners who want to adopt a slow marketing approach and avoid icky sales techniques (which I have been prone to do when I have been rather desperate to make a sale!)
PRACTICAL ADVICE: Holly Tucker MBE who founded Not On The High Street. She is the UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses - particularly those owned by women - and shares her advice generously through her Instagram and her Holly & Co Workshop space. I go to this site for a bit of motivation - not in a girl boss way but just to know that so many people run their own small businesses to improve their quality of life, just like I am trying to do.
- INSPIRATION: Alicia Hall of Botanical Threads. In fact, Alicia is not a self-professed marketing expert (not that I know of anyway!) but she strikes the kind of balance in her business that most aspire to have - I know I certainly do. She has fun with what she makes, but since she's a botanical dyer, a gardener and a maker, hers is not a hurried work and this slower pace is reflected in her beautiful Instagram. She is also brilliant with Instagram stories...again another area where I am trying to improve. I visit her work when I need reminding that the hustle can be deliberate, thoughtful, cohesive and authentic.
2. Celebrate feedback - good and bad - by learning from it.
The fact that someone has taken their time to think about what you are doing with your time is a victory and should in itself make you feel valued. In this era of Amazon-Prime-Same-Day-Deliveries, where we order stuff from people we will never meet and never thank, having some genuine feedback is rather nice. Most of the time, I don't receive feedback; however there are advantages - if someone HATES Firain, I might never know. If I had an actual bricks and mortar shop, the hater may walk in, browse around disdainfully and leave without uttering a word.
During the last six months, I have had some really specific feedback about my shop ("beautiful range of products", "clear photography") and some not so nice ("why would I buy handmade from you when TK MAXX sell them for half the price?"). I have tough skin and I have been around the block once or twice so I can pretty much handle the knockbacks; in fact, they can spur me on to try harder. So I choose to celebrate the feedback and view it as a small victory that I can do so.
3. Celebrate the victory that you have started in the first place...and don't stop.
My motives for opening this shop are very strong and, despite the challenges, I am happy that here we are, six months on, with gorgeous products to sell to loyal and inspiring customers. I don't look at follower numbers*, likes on my posts*, how many people look at firain.com each day* or really worry about the number of sales I make.* I am slowly carving out a way to free up my time, support my mini family and prioritise the more important things. That is for me, dear readers, a reason to fist bump with a friend.
*truth be told, I am borderline obsessed and I know its unhealthy.
So there we are: three good reasons to celebrate the victories. What have you found to be motivating in your creative practice? How do you keep yourself on track? Leave me a comment below, I would love to know.
Jo at Firain