photo credit: Lainey Whitworth
It is such a difficult time of year right about now, for so many reasons. As a creative business, we prepare ourselves for Christmas pretty much all year round. And yet sometimes it doesn’t always end up how we envisage it. In so many places I look at the moment, people are disillusioned and small business owners are struggling. I’m not sure if it’s anything to do with the (pretty rotten) year we’ve had – 2016 certainly isn’t going down in any history books as one to remember in a positive way, but more than that, it’s hard to be a small creative business right now.
Channels that we have relied on so much in the past are failing us. I have seen a number of posts on Facebook recently about reach being non-existent and audiences declining. All due to the algorithm changes that have occurred over the last year, Facebook now prioritises posts from family and friends over businesses. The end result for them is that they want businesses to pay to boost their posts. I guess it’s inevitable – Facebook is also a business after all. And I have said on a number of occasions to my creative women, you can’t rely on just the one marketing channel. It makes much more sense to think long term, and how you can direct sales yourself, rather than relying on platforms that could change at any minute.
Instagram (owned by Facebook) is also changing. Algorithms mean the most popular posts are shown to you rather than in date or time order. How can you get to the top of the pile when there is so much competition?
And how about those little voices that tell you that everyone else has it so sorted whereas you are just flapping around trying to keep on top of everything you need to do without having a chance to think about how to stage your next image with the latest on trend backdrop? (They’re lying by the way, those voices. No-one has it sorted…)
Because there is always so much to do – sometimes so much that you have no idea how to prioritise, or even where to start. And you just want to make, you don’t want to be stressing about everything else because you don’t actually know the best way to go about it. So you don’t even try because you’re scared you’ll muck it up.
So you keep on designing and making, but you aren’t getting seen because Facebook isn’t showing your posts to anyone and you haven’t set up a newsletter and you’ve not had time to sort out your website. And regardless of how beautiful your products are, if no-one is seeing them then they aren’t going to sell. So where do you go? What do you do?
But you may be coming from a completely opposite perspective, and worrying because you have too many orders. Are you struggling because you are already so busy and you can’t see how you are going to maintain this for the next six weeks? Are you worried about how are you going to get them all finished? Do you need to take on staff? Do you need to order more stock? And how much? When should you stop taking orders so you can fulfil them all?
Regardless of whether you are getting no sales, or too many sales, there will be worries and concerns from all angles, not to mention the stress that this causes. This is an expensive time of year and balancing the books can be tough.
And we have Black Friday to consider, as well as Cyber Monday. How do we prepare for it? How many sales can we expect? And if we don’t get what we are hoping for, how can we stay positive and motivated?
Add to all of that, Christmas can be a difficult time for many people on a personal level. Challenges that we have to overcome can make what should be a happy occasion, sad. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing that it could all be over and we can ‘get back to normal’.
Here at CBN HQ I shared on our group earlier that I was also struggling at the moment. Having had a week off, it has been hard to get back into the swing of things, and also being right at the beginning of building a business there is always so much to do, so many questions to ask yourself and so many demons to fight, with regards to whether you are going down the right path or not.
So there are many questions to ask yourself as you lurch headfirst into what could be a chaotic few weeks. How are you going to make the best of the situations you find yourself in? How will you cope if you don’t have the sales you were hoping for throughout December, or on the flip side, how will you cope if you are over-run? If you are struggling with being seen on social media, how else can you market yourself? And how can you stay sane?!
However, it isn’t all doom and gloom, and we are here to try to help and support you as much as we can along the way.
There are a number of things that you can do to make the next month and a half easier. Start by trying not to worry, or panic about who is (or isn’t) seeing your posts on social media. Keep your head down and focus on what you do best – your making and creating. Keep your passion alive by concentrating on your designs. Share them as much as you like, but stop looking at the numbers. It won’t help you in any way and it will just get you down. It gets a lot of us down, you aren’t alone in this, but let’s try to shake it off and focus on the good. (However, if you want to get in touch for further advice on what practical steps you can take to get seen online then please do.)
Make a plan for the next 6 weeks, but also make daily and weekly plans. Keep tasks separate. Don’t get caught up doing things today that don’t need to be done until next week. If you’ve got it written down for Tuesday, and you have allowed time on Tuesday, don’t try to do it today when you are already flat out.
Be inspired by others. Read books or blogs during your down time (make sure you give yourself some down time!) and overall be kind to yourself.
It may be that you need to take some regular time out. We wholeheartedly applaud the healing power of coffee and conversation with a friend or confidante when things are getting tough. Or you can join our creative women as we laugh and cry over the trials and tribulations of the last year.
The brilliant Jenny Hyde shared a post earlier that she had written this time last year about organising the urgent and non important tasks, and this may help you plan the next 6 weeks. As she said, don’t think about long term goals at the moment, this is a crazy time with higher priorities. We can discuss those in the new year. Because it is important to think long term, but just not right now.
Try to ask yourself the questions you are anxious about and see if there is anything you can do to help yourself in the short term. And if you need some outside help then please do get in touch. We’re here to help, and you aren’t on your own.
The CBN Team x
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4 New Buildings,
01884 266045 / 07969 044006