Today I want to talk about your greatest opportunity when it comes to growing a handmade business these days and how it can also become your worst enemy if you don’t keep it under control…
It’s something I’ve been seeing more and more in the last few years as more and more information is available to us online. It’s becoming more and more apparent that, because there’s so much information available out there to help you grow your business, including articles like this one – the irony of this isn’t lost on me here – free blogs, webinars and paid courses and programs, and books… You name it – there’s a resource for it.
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And so what I am noticing – is that a LOT of very smart handmade shop owners are getting stuck in the consumption of information and not taking enough action to see meaningful progress and meaningful results.
A lot of people consume more content and learn more things than they actually implement in their business. Now, this is something I 100% have noticed myself doing too – and I find that more often than not this is something that people who are curious, creative, driven, who like to learn new things struggle most with. The problem is that by definition if you’re starting or growing a handmade business – you probably qualify for all these things, and it’s likely to be a problem you have too.
It’s something we all do really, it’s a form of procrastination – essentially. And often it happens not because you’re not smart enough and can’t figure out how to grow your handmade business, but actually because you are smart and you’re spending too much time essentially learning how to do something instead of actually doing it.
It’s a trap, a pretty, fancy, reasonable looking trap but a trap nonetheless! We all need to get out of it, so let’s get into that.
Now – just so we’re clear, I’m the first to say that when you decide to start a handmade business you have to educate yourself on things that you never thought you would need to learn before… because before you open a business, you don’t wake up in the morning and go “aaaahhhh I can’t WAIT to learn about product photography today” or “ oh yeaaaah I am really looking forward to teaching myself some bookkeeping skills”.
No. But once you do open a shop – these are things you need to learn, and THANK GOD the internet exists to help you learn these skills.
Can we take a minute to imagine how much more challenging it would be to learn these skills if all you had was a dusty library book or an encyclopedia? Remember those?
Anyway, my point is… it’s amazing that you can learn all of these things online, and yes, there is absolutely some learning that you have to do and you should celebrate learning those new skills as the important milestones they are in your journey to haveing a successful handmade shop.
But I think that… there’s a line …. And the problem appears when you learn something and you feel very energized, motivated, and inspired by what you’ve learned and you finally understand that “yes, this is what I need to do in my business to start seeing more traffic, more views, more sales“! And you mistake this feeling, this energy that you have from that new understanding, from that new thing that you learned – you mistake it as an action that you’re taking inside of your business.
And it’s not.
It’s a crucial, must-go-through-it step, but it’s not a meaningful action.
For example, unrelated to handmade businesses but it’s a good analogy:
when I learn how to cook healthy food it’s not going to give me the results of actually eating healthy food – and perhaps more importantly, even if I cook one healthy meal, it’s not going to give me the results I’d get if I were to eat healthy meals every single day.
So there is – and must be – a learning phase where you do need to learn marketing strategies and whatever it is that you’re learning – but then there MUST BE an implementation phase, and often I see people skipping that one – or barely touching the surface of it before moving on to something else.
You dive into a course or a book or video, whatever it is, however you decide to learn. And then you feel like the results from that learning should already be showing, because it feels like effort to learn – and so it feels like putting effort in that business – so you can feel frustrated because “you’ve spent a month learning how to do XYZ” and there’s no real tangible evidence of it (as in actual results) in your business or shop – but no real action has been taken in the business to implement what was being taught in the book, video or course.
You’ve just been educating yourself and catching up on what you need to know so you CAN take real action in your business from it.
And beyond that, just like with the healthy cooking analogy I shared with you – even if you did go ahead and started implementing what you’d just learned, have you done it consistently enough before you allow yourself to think: this isn’t working?
I see A LOT of handmade sellers do exactly that: you learn something, implement it for say a couple of weeks – and then you look at the results and because it’s only been a couple of weeks they might still be small, but in your head because it took you maybe a month or two before that to learn this new technique – the math adds up differently in your brain – and it FEELS like you’ve been trying this new thing for a lot longer than you actually have.
AND BECAUSE there is so much available information everywhere online – you start looking around for a new strategy, a new course, a new trick, a shiny new thing to learn.
And when you do that – you turn yourself into an information junkie. You just want more information, more, more, more!
…but at some stage you have to stop and say ”time for action. Time to do this thing, time to see how it works when I put it into practice consistently, time to run my own experiment with this”.
This next bit might hurt a little – but hey, I need to say it: it’s so tempting to turn yourself into an information junkie, but if you do it in part because you like learning, it’s self-indulging and serves you more than it serves your business. And if you do it because you’re scared of actually doing the work and it not working – it’s a way of procrastinating, a way to hide behind “learning” to avoid confronting your fears.
It’s super important to educate and to learn and to teach yourself the things that you need for your business and we are so lucky to live in this world now where everything is super accessible for you, whether it’s a paid course a program, a membership community, a coach or even free resources available online as well.
You are so lucky to be able to have all of this information at your fingertips – but you have to be careful not to fall for the trap of becoming an information junkie and of learning more than you’re implementing because that’s never going to get you the results that you really want.
You are smart and capable. Find a trusted source of information, learn what you need, take real, consistent, meaningful action from it – and regularly assess what’s working and what needs tweaking based on your real data and on your own practical experience that you get from implementing what you learn in YOUR business, get feedback from peers or someone you trust based on that, make tweaks to improve, and rinse and repeat.
You’ve got this! Thanks for reading, and if you feel like sharing it with other makers and shop owners you think could benefit from it – a big thank YOU in advance, that really means the world!
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