I recently recuperated from a stall at the Energy Shop. It was on fire in its first six months of business, and then, things sort of leveled off. Even though the sales were still coming in, the statistics looked bleak. I wasn’t gaining the new customers I needed to keep growing. I wrote the article, 450 Sales in My First 3 Months on Etsy: Here’s How in the first quarter, and then I wrote 1,000 Sales and Counting in My First Year of Business on Etsy at the end of the year. While I know both of these numbers are impressive, there’s a hidden loss revealed there. If my growth rate continued as it should have after the first quarter, my end-year article should have been titled, “1,800 Sales in My First Year–Woo Hoo!” Technically, my business was shrinking, rather than growing.
If I continued along that path (and I was stubbornly following a dead-end route), my growth would have stalled completely. The number of new customers was declining—NOT GOOD for a new business. After the first six months, I thought I could ride the success of my shop, and that was the first real mistake I’ve made in this business. It was my error to think that I could passively watch the Energy Shop grow. It’s a project that needs constant attention, feeding, and nourishment—and that requires active participation. I dropped the ball on the Energy Shop and it started to deflate. The business and I both fizzled.
What to Do
Whether you’ve stalled out or never fully started up, the first question to ask is: Do You LOVE It? I’m starting a video blog for my shop, and in an unscripted, trial shoot of my debut blog, my passion and excitement about my product amazed me! I truly love what I do, and though my dedication wavered a few months ago (in all fairness, I was also in the process of moving out of the country), I am full-blown in love with the Energy Shop and what it represents. We’re here to stay.
The second question is, Will it evolve and grow with you? You’re born to grow. Even when your body physically stops growing, your soul wants to continually expand. People who don’t realize that truth leave this life unhappy and unfulfilled—don’t be one of them. Your business should be designed to grow and evolve as you will. When your skills improve, your prices should rise. When your product line expands, your shop should be better for it. Make sure you are always reaching higher for bigger and better dreams.
And finally: Does your business give you a sense of accomplishment? Does it FEEL GOOD or are you doing it for the money? And by the way, I don’t care if you’re doing it for the money, especially if the money is going to fuel what FEELS GOOD to you! A sense of accomplishment and measurable goals will keep your interest alive and your flame burning.
What Do You Need to Get Out of This Rut?
What would make you feel good and excited about your shop again? I asked myself this question in October, and the answer was “100 new customers this month.” I set my intention, and guess what? I got 100 new customers last month. Achieving that goal not only rekindled the flame in my shop, it lit a fire under my a$$! Right now, I’m typing a mile-a-minute … you better believe, I’m SMOKING! :)
Short-term goals are fantastic stall-busters, but they should also be applied to longer term goals. It’s holiday season, a great time to ask yourself:
Where do I want this business to be in three months?
Create specific answers, like this one: ”I gain 200 sales and increase my hourly wage by $5.00 by February 15, 2012.”
Where do I want this business to be in three years?
This one is even more important, because what I really want to know is: How do you plan for all of your hard work to pay you back? That’s the question I had to ask myself, because all work with little reward is the recipe for fizzle. Sometimes, you have to pull yourself out of the daily grind, and envision the bigger, brighter future to gain perspective.