When things aren’t going well enough and Failure is waving its bony hand
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Established craftspeople share your early miss-directions in the comments. You might save younger businesses who are about to go through the windscreen