Getting back on track


When things aren’t going well enough and Failure is waving its bony hand

Man Sinking in Quicksand in Movie Scene

Not Waving but Drowning

This bit is to help park the emotional side.

The struggling craftsperson  is undergoing a sort of bereavement. 

They face the  loss  of  self belief.

You are doing something weird, you are grieving for something that you fear is going to happen and by reacting like that you are helping to make it inevitable

Faltering craftspeople   display  classic grieving behaviours. Here’s the list:

Denial and Isolation

You stop talking openly to other crafts people about how things are going so you cut yourself off from  help and moral support.

You no longer record statistics properly: neither your meagre income nor your fat expenditure

You hide away in creating “stock”


You secretly  resent your fellow craftspeople  finding all sorts of reasons to disapprove of their products and them. You feel this most acutely at shows where they are selling and you are not

Your special loathing is for the hobbyists who undersell you

You are cross with the public for not being prepared to pay properly for handmade things, also for having no discernment: they don’t want good stuff.


You become a sucker for all sorts of instant cures you plunge about wildly starting up and abandoning different projects.

You spend on equipment, materials, shows without proper consideration. You become a risk taker .


You lose all self-confidence.

You are more a supplicant than a sales person.

Your body language keeps the customers from even looking at your stall.

Even when you do make sales you are selling at a loss


There is nothing you can do.You decide the whole sad state of affairs is beyond your control.

You block all positive moves.

You decide you were deluded that you had any ability as a craftsman. You are universally useless.

O Dear


 How to haul yourself out of trouble

Sinking businesses know something immensely valuable. They know what doesn’t work.

That is a very, very useful starting point for rethinking.

It is a lot further ahead than the bright-eyed startup position.

Collect Evidence

You need to trawl over what has happened in your business so far.  Don’t get hung up on the evidence. Drop the despair fest. Look at it like this: if you had a damp box of matches and every single one of them failed to light you could conclude that matches simply don’t work Or you could notice that they were damp…

The sort of evidence you need is

How much money did you make last year?

How much did you spend on your business last year?

Name all the types of products you tried to sell. Selling price of each, how many you sold and stock left.

How  many hours do you work at your business per week ?

What do you spend most of your working time on?

List all your unsuccessful face to face selling venues

List any successful face to face venues

List all your online selling places and your costs and turnover on each for the last year

List all your social media and how many likes/followers on each

The evidence collecting is the worst bit but it has to be done

Analyse the Evidence

Work out what went best, note down where you think you got it wrong. You have the benefit of hindsight: so apply it .

Decide what you need to achieve

It is crucial that you crunch your finances.

What is your timeframe to make this work ?

When does the money run out?

Should you seek some part-time work to buy the chance of survival?

How much money do you need to make a year for your crafts business to be sustainable?



Put closing down entirely as a real option. Putting it up there takes the pressure off, it cleans the decision to continue

Don’t continue for pride’s sake, continue because it is what you most want to do and only if you have a clear course of action that addresses the problems.

You should be able to get yourself to this position on your own but it is at this point that you would really benefit from help. The sort of help you want is someone listening to all you have realised and talking through your options and decisions for the future. They might bring new ideas and directions to the table and unearth any weaknesses in your own proposals.

If you have no one to that with ask me it will cost £30 for an hour’s discussion

2014-04-25 17.01.56

No Magic Bullet

Pissed off with me? Read this far and no solution  just a lot of instructions ?

Yup that’s right. You got yourself into this mess so you have to dig yourself out. No mentor can haul you out, all  they can do is  help you consider your conclusions based on proper analysis .

If you are seriously off track its going to take a lot of effort and research to turn things round.

You have to stop, look back, evaluate, conclude, discuss, plan and put the plan to work evaluating as you go.

A huge task to undertake when you are at a low point emotionally and financially. Starting the business was fueled by glorious (but misplaced) self belief.  Now the batteries must run on determination. If you can find that determination you  probably have a 70% chance of running a decent little business in 5 years.

From now on keep tight hold of the facts, never look the other way because they may be telling you something you don’t want to know.

Creativity runs on emotions, business runs on facts. 


More Help

Try this Low income Diagnostic chart 

Check you are pricing properly

Are you aiming for the most lucrative  customers

Been there got the t shirt Perfectly natural to fail first My story

Can I help?


Established craftspeople share your early miss-directions in the comments. You might save younger businesses who are about to go through the windscreen




5 thoughts on “Getting back on track

  1. Bex says:

    Thank you for this, the first thing I saw when I came across this page was ‘No Magic Bullet’ and realised that that is what I’ve been looking for as I go round and round in circles trying to work out where my business is going. I recognised all the grieving signs and am going to try to spend some proper time working things out rather than randomly trying new angles and abandoning them for something else before finishing them. Thanks again.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Bex, I looked at your website and can see how you are all over the place with your product and it’s presentation. Gather up all the evidence you can, then have a big think and then contact me as I am sure I can help.

      I think the answer is going to be move high end with ready made pieces like the water jug which in the right places will stand a £66 price tag .

      Slow down, calm down ,work out your position. Here’s the analogy: you are in your car driving furiously as you are going to miss a vital appointment but you are lost. So stop, get the map out ,work out where you are and then decide whether you can keep the appointment or if you need to change arrangements. Only calmness and taking time when you feel you have none is going to save the situation.

      Think of it as untangling which takes patience

      • Bex says:

        A perfect analogy, one that I recognise all too well. I shall get the map out, try and remember my left from my right and use your mentoring service when I’ve done some untangling. Many thanks.

  2. Chrissi Matusevics says:

    I was very lucky to be able to pull back and re-evaluate without causing problems at the time- as we didn’t depend on what I was making to keep the family finances going – I was making classic mistakes as hubby- who has been very free with advice and opinion often reminded me-
    the wrong stuff for the wrong venues- the £20+ expensive ranges at school fairs and church fairs- nothing for children to buy – going to antique fairs and local car boot style indoor markets with the high and mid end ranges – rather than cheaper things that people wanted to buy – continuing to use a venue even though my take has dropped each time not researching venues before going- and hubby’s favourite- there isn’t any jewellery stalls so I’ll go – he always said to me ‘had you thought there might be a reason there are no jewellery stalls ?’

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      That’s the way you learn, it’s often like that to begin with and once you realise you are astounded you could have thought that way.
      Partners need to be very careful how they point out perceived mistakes if they are triumphant then they will never be listened to. Hindsight is always a great eye opener.

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