Develop a craft business plan for the upcoming year, and set your business up for success.
This 18-step action plan will guide you through strategic choices and help you become more focused and ready to maximize opportunities as they arise.
When you see the words "business plan" you might immediately think of the traditional kind of plan that requires things like market analyses, organizational charts, and detailed financial projections.
We're not talking about writing a colossal formal business plan. As a craft business owner, you probably don't need a formal business plan.
You do require a roadmap designed for the needs of a handmade business to help you:
Here's what we're going cover to develop a craft business plan that will help set you up for success for the upcoming year:
In December, companies like Etsy and Pinterest release trend reports for the upcoming year. January a great time to dig into some of these reports, see what customers might be searching for in the coming year, and decide if and how you want to reflect some of those trends in your own business.
Each year, I review the newest trend reports with an eye toward understanding trends that are most relevant to craft business owners. Check out my article Crafts That Sell Well - updated for 2022 to see what design trends might impact your sales in the coming year.
I follow several companies that publish fashion and decor trends predictions and share their reports on Pinterest, so you can find them quickly.
I have three boards for 2022 - one for color trends, one for spring / summer, and one for autumn / winter.
Here's where you'll find my 2022 boards:
If you want to take a more comprehensive look into trends predictions for 2022, go beyond my article and Pinterest boards, and check out the original reports yourself.
I couldn't possibly report on every trend for the year, so there are plenty I didn't cover. You might find something inspiring for your own business in one of these reports:
Do current trends fit with your brand? Would embracing certain trends advance your craft business plans and goals? You'll need to determine for yourself the right balance between trendy and classic for your company.
If you do want to embrace a trend or two, you'll need to decide how that will look. Will you incorporate hot colors? design motifs? a specific type of product? a particular frame of mind or philosophy?
Of course, you can reflect trends in your product design, but there are also other ways to embrace trends. You could reflect trends in your craft booth merchandising, your product packaging, or your communication with customers as well.
Realistic, motivating goals that are in line with your values should be at the heart of your craft business plan.
A business plan is a road map to get to a specific destination. Your goals are the destination.
Time spent reflecting on your core goals and values will help ensure you make plans, decisions, and commitments throughout the year that will lead you to create the type of business you really want.
You can't possibly do it all, so you need to decide what's really important. What do you want to do extraordinarily well, and what are you willing to let go of to achieve that goal?
If you set compelling priorities, you can actually accomplish more by doing less but doing it better.
When you know where you want your business to be next year, you'll be able to make better decisions about how to invest your time.
With your ideal business goals in mind, you can work out the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be. You'll be better equipped to make strategic decisions to work on projects that support your vision instead of bouncing from day to day on tasks that don't lead to your big picture goal.
For the most part, you can control whether you follow through on a commitment to action. You can not control the outcome. So if you want to stay motivated to accomplish something big, your goal needs to revolve around actions, not outcomes.
The SMART goal setting technique is all you need to set realistic, motivating goals that are tied to actions.
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If you're up for investing some time to make sure you're really building a business that's in line with your values, you need to read Busy: How to Thrive in a World of too Much by Tony Crabbe.
I've read stacks of popular books about setting and achieving goals.
Honestly, I didn't like many of them.
Most other books on the subject assume you have total control over vast swaths of time. You just need to learn to use all of that time well.
I don't have vast swaths of wide open time. I'm willing to bet you don't either.
That's why Busy is the one book about priorities and goal setting that completely blew me away.
The book centers around the assumption that your time is finite and precious. It completely changed my perspective and transformed how I approach life and business goal planning.
What's at the heart of achieving your smart goals and following through on your craft business plan?
Habits will get you further than willpower. Willpower is finite and requires emotional effort and energy. Habits, once established, happen automatically.
Research shows that habits account for a full 45% of our daily behaviors! If you can consciously develop more constructive habits, you could potentially get 45% of your day right automatically.
Remember, you can't do everything, and often you can accomplish more by doing less. So choose one or two habits that will have the biggest impact on the goals you set for your business.
Commit to building those one or two most impactful habits.
Don't let yourself get distracted by other enchanting ideas. You can add more habits in the future once the first one is more firmly established.
Habits work on a predictable cycle:
If you can recognize and redirect the habit cycles that drive your own routines, you have a much better chance at changing them successfully.
Even with the best habit cycle in place, you'll need a degree of motivation to persist through inevitable low points. Your reasons to continue have to outweigh your reasons to stop.
If you find your motivation is slipping, use some of these strategies to boost self motivation.
There's another book in the achievement genre that has actually been extremely helpful to me — Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.
The book is written around the premise that were are all different, so different types of habit building strategies will work for different types of people. It shows you how to use practical, actionable strategies that suit you and work with your natural inclinations, not against them.
If you want to take a more comprehensive look at habit building, I think you'll find a lot of value in the strategies that are taught in Better Than Before
If you're new to selling at craft fairs, January might seem shockingly early to start planning for shows that won't happen for another 6-11 months.
Many shows open up the application process several months in advance. If you want to start selling at a few craft shows this year, you need to start planning sooner rather than later.
Your local arts association or crafts guild will be an excellent resource for finding shows in your area. They probably even publish an annual craft show directory for your area.
A craft show directory is a great starting point for finding shows in your area, but occasionally craft show directories contain mistakes. When you check deadlines, go directly to the show's website so you can be sure you're getting important information directly from the source.
Important craft show dates include:
While you're checking deadlines, you can also look for other important information about the craft shows that interest you such as:
All of that information will help you to assess each craft show and decide which ones you'd like to attend.
Art studio tour organizers also typically start accepting applications for both spring and fall tours quite early in the year. If you think you might like to participate in your local studio tour, start your research now. Your arts association will have information about that event as well.
Your product photography can make or break your craft show application. Whether you hire a pro or take the photos yourself, craft product photography is no place to cut corners in your juried art show applications, particularly if you're applying to more competitive shows or if you're applying to a competitive category like jewelry or painting.
You might not need to start your applications in January. That will depend on the deadlines for shows you'd like to attend.
Just don't wait until the last minute to apply to juried art shows that interest you. Complete your applications thoroughly, carefully, and in a timely manner.
There may be shows that interest you but you can't attend this year because you're not ready for them, or you were not accepted. Put those show dates in your calendar, and plan to attend them as a customer if at all possible.
You'll be able to check out the vendors, see whose booths are full of paying customers, and learn what works so you'll be ready to apply to those shows in coming years.