Ah, it's February! I guess that means we have ended our 30-day trial of 2023 and have to commit to the rest of the year. I decided to set some goals for this year, and sharing them publicly is one way that I can keep myself accountable!
1. Teach classes
I dipped my toe into the pool of being a sewing educator last year, and while I wouldn't say it was particularly successful financially, I really enjoyed it. This year, I want to make teaching a larger focus for me, instead of letting craft fairs be the main thing that allows me to connect with other creatives.
Last year I offered several classes through a shop in San Jose, but due to a lot of factors that I can't control, I could not turn any sort of profit from it. I'm not saying "I couldn't get the teaching gigs to fund my vacation" - no. After taxes, I had some classes where my take-home pay was literally $0. And I still had to pay for gas to drive 98 miles round trip! I am all for donating my time to worthwhile causes, but the thing is -- the people who took my classes paid for them. I just didn't see that money hit my account.
This year's goal, then, is to cultivate relationships that will allow me to teach classes that I love, but in a way that is mutually beneficial. Otherwise, I will have to stop teaching and focus solely on the "make and sell" side of my business. I have a few things in the works, that I hope to be able to announce soon!
2. Start a blog (yes, this blog)
Okay, yes, if you read my first blog post, then you already knew that this was a goal for me. I plan to share things on my blog at least twice a month.
In terms of my core values, this is all about community for me. I wanted to have a way to share with "my people" in a way that feels authentic to me - and making Tik Tok videos isn't it for me. I love scrolling videos as much as the next person, but absolutely dread creating videos. On the other hand, I love reading books...so I think this will feel a bit better for me.
3. Cook Consistently
Confession: after I moved back to San Francisco, I can count the number of times I cooked in my apartment's kitchen on my fingers. There were a lot of factors that contributed to this - chief among them, having a really small kitchen and no longer working from home. More importantly, I felt burned out on trying to figure out what I was going to make, and when, and what stores do I need to hit up to get the ingredients I need? Those planning skills were all the same things that I was doing for product development and creation. I simply didn't feel like I had it in me to ALSO cook.
I know that I won't be perfect, but I do want to change how I feel about taking care of myself. As privileged as I am to have people that want to cook and provide food for me every day, I also know that the act of cooking is one that can "fill my cup" so to speak. It makes me feel good to take care of myself (and my loved ones), and it's something that feels like a "win" when I do it. There are so many moments in my day where I definitely do not feel like I am accomplishing anything, so even though it has nothing to do with business, it really changes how I see myself.
To help things along, I decided to invest in a couple of things that just make it easier to be in my kitchen. I can't make more counter space magically appear, but I can upgrade the lighting so it's easier to see what the heck I am doing on my little countertop. I picked up these rechargeable lights that do a great job of lighting my counters without using up precious outlet space.
There's still stuff that I don't like about this kitchen, but it is becoming more workable to actually spend some time in. While this may not seem like a "business specific" goal, it's helping me to get some much-needed balance into my routines.
4. Get My Bookkeeping Into Line
Last year as I was starting out, I told myself that I would figure things out when I needed to, and not overwhelm myself with worry and stress. This is how I approached bookkeeping, as well. Keeping the books isn't necessarily difficult, just tedious! And I understand how it is supposed to work. So, I didn't put much focus on it.
Here's the thing: I am really good at understanding ideas, less good at actually making it work. And being bad at book keeping made me feel just like I did in my college physics class - like I was a misunderstood idiot. It's more frustrating to know you aren't getting something right, than to be bad at it and have no idea. Ignorance is bliss, and all that.
It was not a surprise, then, that letting my bookkeeping stuff pile up for months would come back to haunt me. Sitting down at a computer with reciepts and spreadsheets is just not as enjoyable as playing with fabric! No fatal mistakes were made, but ughhhh I did not enjoy having to catch up. Actually, I am still trying to catch up from last year!
So, what does "get my books in order" look like for me?
- Taking advantage of the e-reciept forwarding feature in QuickBooks so I don't have to track them down later
- Carrying an envelope for my reciepts, and scanning them into the QuickBooks app as soon as I can
- Dealing with expenses and income each month (and rewarding myself with something nice after it is complete)
- Developing a spreadsheet for tracking all production costs and using it EVERY TIME I make something, instead of letting it pile up. And synching that to Shopify.
My determination to not repeat this pattern for this year is twofold. First - having this kind of stuff in order is necessary for the sustainability of my business. Second - it allows me to really KNOW my business. I hope to be able to hire help with part of the production of some of my items, but I can't do that if I don't know what I can afford!
5. Launch On Time
What I really mean is, plan ahead better! I struggled (still struggle) with creating collections that are time-specific. My goal is NOT to have a Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer flow like fashion designers do, but "making things and putting them out there whenever I feel like it" is not where it is at, either. I acknowledged this about 6 months ago, but have yet to get it figured out! I find it challenging to work on something if I don't have an event right around the corner, but if I allow myself to work in this way, then I really can't do very many events, which in turn limits my earnings potential.
An example: my Halloween collection was not the success I thought it would be. And I know that a major part of why it was not successful is because I did not have my products made in time. Well, I had them done by the beginning of October, but I didn't have photos taken, listings on my website made, or videos to promote it by then. So I ended up spending a lot of money on supplies, and time on developing and making things, for it to not do all that well. I LOVE Halloween, so it was extra disappointing to me! I vowed to improve after this experience, but am sad to report I have not figured it out.
I know that there's some rhythms and seasons that go along with this trade now, so I know that I will have more opportunities to improve at the collection/launch process. I am working to establish work flows that help me to "see" a few months ahead, identify pain points, and (hopefully) scramble right before a big event less often.
So, those are my five goals for this year. To recap, they are, along with what values they support:
- Teach Classes (Community)
- Start a Blog (Community)
- Cook Consistently (Sustainability)
- Get my Bookkeeping In Line (Sustainability)
- Launch on Time (Kaizen, Craftsmanship)
I hope to publish periodic updates (maybe once a quarter?), and be on the lookout for mini-updates in my Instagram stories. Part of what helps me to stick to my goals is the accountability piece - knowing that YOU ALL know what I am supposed to be doing.
Let me know - what goals do you have for this year?