There are two ways to plan – tactically and strategically. Now, I’m not going to get all Julius Caesar on you, this isn’t warfare, but the fact is that most of us are pretty good at the former and hopeless at the latter.
Tactics are what get you through the day
– you use tactics of organisation and working efficiently, along with plenty of stamina, to achieve what you set out to when you first sat down at your desk, crafting bench or kitchen table. The problem with tactics is that, if you focus purely on them and nothing else, you can find yourself very efficiently doing the wrong thing.
There’s a productivity cliche that says that tactics (or management) help you to efficiently climb the ladder whereas strategy (or leadership) ensures you’re leaning the ladder against the correct wall.
So, to succeed in your craft business, you need both a strategy and the tactics to implement it. And strategy begins with setting goals. Once you know where you’re heading, you can work out how you’re going to get there, but it must be in that order.
What goals are you going to set for the coming year?
It can help to look further into the future and think about how you see your life overall in five years time. Do you see yourself running a full-time craft business having left the day-job behind? What would it take to achieve that ambition? If you had five years, how would you do it?
Write down the steps between your current situation and where you want to be. It can be helpful to break your goals down into categories such as financial, family and personal and to make sure that you have ambitions for each of these as they’ll strongly affect each other.
Why five years? Because it’s long enough to achieve just about anything without being so long it seems incredibly remote. You might struggle to visualise yourself with a successful craft business that pays the bills if I said it had to be achieved within twelve months, but with five years to reach your goals, it’s hard to reasonably argue that you can’t do it.
But here’s the trick. Once you have those steps written down (and step 1 should be to educate yourself on how to set up a craft business – I know a good book on that) in the assumption that you have five years you should now work out how you could achieve exactly the same in one year.
You see, life is too short for procrastinating it away.
If you thought you could get set up in five years, why not accelerate it and bring it into being in one year, or six months even?
Here’s an example. As well as writing my business and technical books, I’m just embarking on a career as a writer of comic fantasy novels. I know that, for this project to have any hope of being financially viable, I need a series of books. But books take time to write. My first book took, in the end, nearly a year and that’s far too long. My aim is to have 15 books published in the next five years, but what if I wanted to get that number written in six months? Impossible? Perhaps but James Patterson achieves it by hiring other people to write novels based on his outline. Now, I’m not going to be doing that but, by thinking about what it would take to condense my five year goal into six months, I’ve realised that, if I’m to accelerate my production and, in that way, give my fiction career the best possible chance, I cannot do it all myself. As a control freak, this was hard medicine, I can tell you! While I don’t want anyone else writing my books, I can out-source other aspects of the process to others and that will greatly reduce the interval between books.
My point is that, had I not made myself consider the ridiculous prospect of squeezing five year’s work into six months, I would not have thought about getting outside help. The end result is that I should be able to achieve my aims in, perhaps, half the time I’d originally set aside – because I was prepared to look outside the box.
If it’s your goal to have a successful craft business by the end of 2017, then, I invite you to consider what it would take to make it happen six months earlier. That way, you’ll be ready for the crucial Christmas season. What steps do you need to take to get set up? How can you get through them more quickly? It might well be that you need to seek outside help, whether that’s professional help or simply getting your other half to muck in and support you. It could be farming out the development of your website rather than spending time on learning it for yourself. And, yes, some of these things cost money, but, as I’m now realising, nothing is more valuable than time
the sooner your craft business is up and running, the sooner it will be profitable and the sooner it will fulfil your ambitions.
So, where do you want to be in six months time? I suggest setting three main goals: one for business/finance, one for family/loved ones and one for yourself. And then work out how you are going to make them happen.
Be bold and you’ll never have to ask “what if”.