It’s that time of year again… The time where I sprint to finish all my seasonal Etsy orders while balancing the craziness of the holidays, all by the metaphorical finish line that is New Years Eve! I’m still learning to manage my time as a small business owner and teacher, so this year I’m hoping and praying I get everything done.
I’m already seeing the busy season’s orders trickle in steadily (brownie points for you early shoppers), while trying to plan flights and make holiday/birthday plans (I’m a Christmas baby!), while planning curriculum and starting a new session of classes at the art studio, while trying to make time for friends and family and still enjoy the season. Cue the world’s smallest violin- can you relate?!
Let’s flash back to last year at my Etsy shop. My store was only 2 months old and I was very naïve and unprepared for the amount of orders I would get. On one hand- hooray success! On the other, I was afraid of not being able to finish everything and thus failing only months into my new venture by my own hand. I was working a 50 hours/week job and squeezing my Etsy orders in any facet of my schedule I could find. Cue actual, frenzied violins! However, I was determined to finish. And I did… with a lot of gracious customers and only 3 days before Christmas to spare (lol). I look back on this and laugh, although at the time I felt more like crying ! Like any challenging experience however, I like to think I learned from this.
What did I learn?
- I learned I needed to know my limits, first and foremost. My business is high on my priority list (see my last blog post… in short, I’m a perfectionist) and I will absolutely make the time I need to finish my orders. However, it’s ok to say no some times to other things- like rescheduling hangouts, or purposefully not volunteering to help with every holiday party. I also need to factor in time for myself to relax and unwind, which is hard! I am still in the process of learning this!
- I learned the magic art of… *making things easier for myself*. What?! Yeah. Like making a magic back stock of my items! Such as pre-making borders for my embroideries, or sewing jingle bells to items and adding custom features later. Or writing cards to my customers beforehand, or ordering supplies in advance so I don’t have to make my poor angel husband drive out to Joann’s minutes before it closes to get me something (can you tell I’m speaking from experience ;)). Lastly, I started planning for this season in *September* so I wouldn’t have a repeat of last year! Such knowledge!
- I learned to give myself grace and not to undervalue my work. Some days are better than others… but if God can give me grace, I can too! I can’t beat myself up if my to-do list isn’t perfectly checked off each day, or drive myself to anxiety for the sake of feeling “productive.” For this season I set specific, attainable goals for myself, so I can look back after all is said and done and be proud of what I accomplished. I keep this all in my planner, with daily goals as well. Also, as much as I make myself feel guilty about it, I must factor my time in my work and my shop prices should reflect that. It’s scary to put yourself out there and put a price tag on your work, but I spend hours on each piece and I like to think it shows in my finished products… so I should let myself be comfortable getting what I deserve, right?! Easier said than done. I am not a corporation, and I’m super sensitive to sketchy, pushy sales initiatives. I never want my customers to feel pressured or annoyed by my online presence, and I 100% want them to feel like they get what they pay for. It can be hard to balance it all sometimes!
I’m not an expert by any means, but I am a work in progress and so is my shop! I hope this perspective helps you, whether you’re starting your own business yourself, or even finishing school work, or making time for your side hobbies. I want to share real examples of how tough it can be for small businesses, and how many mistakes get made in the beginning, but it’s oh so worth it! Don’t mistake this post for me complaining or having a lack of enthusiasm, though- the holiday season is one of my favorites!!! I have two new items in my shop this year and I hope y’all love them as much as I do:) I hope you enjoy extra time with friends and family, the gift-giving and merry-making, and most of all the beauty of what this season truly means!
Bye for now,
PS- Here are some great resources I’ve used for small business advice and to get my shop holiday ready!