Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Head in the sand vs Business Planning

I am a big believer in business planning and setting up systems that allow you to work more strategically. The thing is with so much advice out there, much of which is hard to scale back and relate specifically to your own business and life situation, business owners often become so overwhelmed, that instead of taking steps to improve their business, they stick their head in the sand and carry on as they did yesterday.

Planning can be challenging, exhausting and of course hard to find time for but it really does make the world of difference in a small business.

Many of my clients mention to that they feel overwhelmed when putting their 2013 busines plan together.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

Plan time to plan

It sounds silly but if you set aside time once a week, even if it is only 20 minuets which you dedicate to planning you can begin to see the benefits and hopefully create more space to get planning done.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the day to day of business, family and life; but if you want to create a sustainable, profitable business, planning is critical.

Just start.

At a conference I went to this year entrepreneur and world traveller Chris Guillebeau mentioned he is always asked, “When is the best time to start?” to which he replies;

“Without a doubt it is a year ago – but failing that, start today”

He was referring to blogging; but the same is true for business planning.

Put it to paper

Write it down, it doesn’t count if you think up great plans as you drive home but then never put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). The power of getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper is something I can’t even quite explain.

When I started writing down goals and plans for my business the speed at which I would then achieve them was nothing short of astounding.

Obviously you need to work hard as well; but once you commit something paper the tasks required to achieve those goals becomes much clearer and it is far easier to catch yourself when you veer off course.

Where to you start?

Write down five things you want to achieve in your business in 2013.

It may be a higher number of followers on social media or it might be increased sales. Perhaps it is to create a new product or to launch a collection.

The point is to take sometime out and decide 5 things that you would be proud of if you could tick them off by the end of 2013.

Then under each of these five goals write down 5 actions you can take to move you towards that goal.

When you have some time to come back and review these goals and action steps, think about it in a little more detail.

For each of your five goals commit to taking at least one action towards achieving them in January, write yourself a list of “To Do’s” for January that you know will be moving you towards your larger goals.

Enjoy the holidays and take some time out to consider what you want for your business in 2013 – but what ever you do don’t feel fearful of business planning. It is as fun and exciting as your wildest hopes dreams.

Elle, business and marketing strategist and co-director of Studio Exsto (, is passionate about helping small businesses thrive. Studio Exsto is THE workroom for creatives in business to engage in the design, development and drive of their business. Elle is also founder of the Artful Business Conference (

Friday, December 14, 2012

2013: the year of originality

Over the last few weeks I've been thinking about 2013.

I've been working on my winter range for C Percy Designs, reviewing themes for the Handmade Cooperative and I've been thinking about what my wonderful {CHA} readers would like to read about in 2013.

Part of planning for the new year is looking back.  One of our most popular posts on the {CHA} has been the post by Tania from Chicken Inc. where she introduced the Handmade Originally Pledge.

This pledge is as relevant today as it was back in April 2011.

Personally I believe originally, along with craftsmanship and quality, is one of the major draw cards for buyers of Handmade products.  Buyers of handmade are looking to purchase something unique, something original.

Back in 2011 the {CHA} simply stated:
If you are copying someone else’s work, you need to stop it. Dig deep into your own creative spirit and push yourself to move past the seemingly easy answer to copy what works for someone else. Find your own voice. Find your own creativity. Your will feel so much better for it, because when people compliment you on your products, you will know that you genuinely deserve the kudos. Being in this industry is not just about the money. It’s about being creative first and foremost. It’s about following your passion. And if you can make a profit from that, then that is a bonus.

So when you are doing your planning for 2013, I ask you to make originally part of your strategy.

Have you signed the Handmade Originality Pledge?
How has signing the pledge improved your business? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Window Shopping: Educator

1. Ipad Sleeve by Monkey and Me, $30.00 
2. Ho Ho Ho cookies by One Sweet Chick, $3.00 
3. Sock Monkey graint paperclip by Snickerdooles, $6.00 
4. Drawstring bag by Shelley Berelli, $12.00 
5. Patchwork Fabric Lanyard by Scrappy'n Happy, $15.00 
6. 250g roasted single origin coffee by Gridlock Coffee, $15.00

This guide was created by Bree from meandmy2guys

Friday, December 7, 2012

Window Shopping: Out of Space

1. Wooden Memory Matching Game by Mollydag Made $24.95 
2. Set of 8 Space Invaders by Bubble Lane handmade Soap $7.00 
3. Solar System Wall decal by Tiges and Weince $59.00 
4. Galaxy racer shorts by King Billy $24.00
5. Starry Starry Night Mobile by Happy as Larry Designs  $44.95 
6. Space Ship Boys Baby Onesie by Lil Birdie $20.00 
7. Felt Monster Mini Toys for Car by babua $35.00 

This guide has been put together by Anna from King Billy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Window Shopping: Watermelon

1. Pink Rose Print Dress $35.00 by The Poppy Patch
2. Pretty Green Felt Bird by Eme Creations
3. Absinthe Cocktail Ring $21.00 Two Cheeky Monkeys
4. 'Butterfly dreams in pink and green' 5 clips $13.50 by VintageNanna
5. Fluoro Pink Chevron Cushion $89.00 by Ivy & Lil
6. Mineral Eye Shadow - Fuchsia $6.00 by Rhasdala Bath & Body

This Guide was put together by Deb from Two Cheeky Monkeys.
Deb is a Melbourne-based scientist turned jewellery and homewares designer.  She spends her time entertaining her two cheeky monkeys and creating vintage-inspired items from vintage and vintage-styled supplies.