Behind the shops’ success stories we never hear of: the compound effect


If I say “BAMBOO”, what do you think of immediately? Like right now, what are you thinking?

I bet something along the lines of: “Fast-growing plant or grass” – and maybe also “panda” 😉

(By the way: I Googled it for you, it’s a grass – not a plant. You’re welcome)

OK – so far, so good.

But why on earth am I talking to you about bamboo and what does it have to do with growing a successful handmade business??

Because most of us think of bamboo as this crazy fast growing grass that’s able to grow by 80 feet in 6 weeks.

That’s impressive!

But it’s not the full story.

You can watch the video or read the written version below.

Growing Bamboo Is A Lot Like Your Handmade Business

Somehow, we’ve collectively decided to completely ignore the fact that it takes 5 years (!!) for bamboo to sprout.

5 years . . . during which the bamboo is changing underground where we can’t see it, getting ready to emerge, strong and proud, out of the soil . . . but if you didn’t know that… and were staring at a patch of soil for 5 years … you’d think the bamboo would never sprout, that it was just a failed attempt to grow bamboo.

Which is a lot like your handmade business . . . now of course it doesn’t take 5 years to see results and get sales from your business (thank God!)

BUT… I am also willing to bet that at times… you feel like NOTHING is working or paying off, and that all your efforts and the work you’re putting in your shop are in vain… and that you feel disappointed.

If so, this is the article for you – I am going to show you just how much all the time and energy you are spending on your business will pay off, even though you might not see it right now.

So, ready? Let’s dive in.



The Compound Effect

The Compound Effect talks about how results come from small incremental improvements that compound over time.

You can tell I feel passionately about this and it’s one of my main lids and business philosophies, because I know just how much consistent effort pays off from witnessing it in my own life and business as well as in the businesses of the wonderful handmade shop owners that I have the privilege to work with.

There are so many articles out there that are gonna say, like “how to make 6 figures in 3 months” . . . and that’s just ridiculous and it’s selling people something that most of them won’t be able to achieve.

Is it possible to make 6 figures in 3 months? Sure! But often that’s disregarding the prep work that was done BEFORE that . . . PLUS it’s not the reality of what most businesses are like.

So let’s go back to our bamboo analogy real quick:

When you hear about how amazing bamboo is because it can grow to 80 feet in 6 weeks, it sounds amazing. . . but . . . people don’t want to mention that it takes 5 YEARS for the bamboo to sprout, ‘cause that’s boring!

This picture tells the real story, look at years 1 through 4 . . . and you see nothing NADA . . . not a single sign to tell you the bamboo is growing.

And then suddenly in year 5 BOOM!

You see where I am going with this…we do the same with everything in life and in business.

We are impatient.

We seek instant gratification.

We often prefer to have 1 marshmallow now rather than 2 later.

When results aren’t instantaneous, we get emotional (and act on those emotions rather than on logic).

We feel disappointed and act from a space of disappointment which often only makes things more difficult. So what can you do when you feel this way, when you feel disappointed by your lack of instant big rewarding results?

You think of me reminding you that you’re front-loading the work. Let me explain.

Want to come back to this article later? Love to pin pretty graphics to pinterest?

We’ve got you covered! You should totally pin those:

Front Loading The Work

If you want your handmade business to be a success for years to come – you have to think long-term.

This will allow you to start ‘front-loading’ the work – to get solid foundations in place that will pay dividends down the line.

You want your progress curve to look like this:

At first, it might look like you’re making less progress, but everything you do is logically built on the previous step – compounding over time and leading you slowly but surely to exponential growth and real lasting results.

Essentially, you’re slowing down … to speed up!

James Clear talks about this phenomenon in his book Atomic Habits and calls it the “Plateau of Latent Potential.” Take a look at this graph: the straight line is what you think your business should do when you first start it up, and the curved line is what really happens. . . and that empty space between those lines is called the “Valley of Disappointment”—which is an easy place for handmade shop owners to get stuck in and feel discouraged.

But the reality is that to get to that breakthrough event where your sales start to go up usually takes a few months of little, little, little steps that build on top of each other and eventually compound and start to pay off. And so when you’re waiting for that breakthrough and you’re in that Valley of Disappointment, you are just like the bamboo before it grows— sitting in soil, getting ready to take off.

Results Come From Consistency

Of course, it doesn’t take 5 years to make sales or a consistent income from your handmade shop (phew!) -but it does take consistency, and you probably heard me say it before:

Results come from consistency, and consistency can only happen over time—read that again and let it sink in—

So even though you might hear these multiple-6-figures success stories, and you feel impatient and want to see the results of all your hard work like “YESTERDAY Please!”, I want you to know ….

You’re just watering that bamboo seed.

Trust Me—All Your Work Is Paying Off!

So if your shop has only been open for a few weeks or even a few months, you’re not the biggest failure in the universe . . . that’s just what your mean inner voice wants you to think – don’t listen to it! Remember The Compound Effect – you’re front-loading the work, and keep pushing through and showing up consistently, because it DOES pay off.

And if you’re feeling discouraged, and want some guidance and support to lift up your spirits and help you make sure you are doing all the right things to help your handmade shop grow, come join us over at Tizzit HQ!

Keep at it – and until next time, aurevoir!


Ps: I recommend you read this great little article that opened my eyes to the BBL (Big Bamboo Lie) and inspired this emailLife lessons on impatience and instant gratification“. Here is a great quote from the article:

“The process begins like any other seed, it needs good soil, sun and water. But after a year of nurturing this little seed you won’t get anything in return.

In year two, it requires the same care and attention. Water, sun and fertiliser. Then you wait.

Repeat this in year three and four only to wait some more. It’s like the bamboo is putting you to the test. Get impatient in the first four years and you get nothing.

Finally, you make it to year five. The wait is over and the bamboo sprouts. But it does more than that. Your reward is eighty feet of growth in six weeks.

For four long years, the bamboo was getting stronger, developing roots, preparing to take off.” – (words by Chad Bockius)

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