I, like many other crafters, spend hours carefully constructing my journals. I fold each page by hand. I ponder each color combination. I glue my fingers together before throwing out a cover and starting over because the end pages have a stain. Each item I create is as much an emotional investment as a time investment or a financial investment. Like many crafters before me, I jumped into the sellers' ring eager and unprepared, expecting the world to appreciate the dedication I have to my art.
What did I learn? Business is hard.
Consider taking a moment before the holidays to crunch the numbers and make a game plan. For example, I would love to use handmade recycled paper for the innards of every book I produce. Realistically, I cannot afford enough paper to make one journal, and pricing to cover costs would be outlandish. But now that I'm looking, I am finding inexpensive, high-quality recycled paper.
Set business hours. No personal errands, no internet surfing, and no slacking. I drew a picture of an imaginary boss and wrote an employee guidebook to motivate myself. If I can scare myself into thinking I could be fired for ignoring company policies, I am more likely to be productive. My method may be extreme, but at the very least, set aside a regular time for your business.
Time is a valuable resource. What if I am lucky enough to have a hundred custom orders to fill? If I have the book blocks pre-sewn now, the covers will be a snap later on. That way I can spend the time focusing on a unique design for each order, rather than using all my time folding thousands of sheets of paper.
Make a mail plan. I have a day job. Often, the hours of my day job coincide with the postal system's hours of operation. Consequently, I have set aside time each week in my schedule to make a mail run. What's the use in taking orders if you can't ship them out in a timely manner?
Marketing little by little. I neglect marketing. But if I can get one new person to look at my shop each day, I'll have over 50 potential new buyers by the end of December. That's something, right?
We aspire to master our crafts. Why should we not also aspire to master our businesses?