At the beginning of June I returned from an ultra relaxing week on the beach in the Dominican Republic refreshed and ready to attack my most ambitious goal yet: growing my business enough to double my gross sales from last year. Wow! That’s big for a one-girl operation with lots of ideas and limited time to execute them all. Luckily, (for my schedule, but not my wallet) my summer course at Emerson was canceled so my days were clear to focus entirely on my business. It was both an exciting prospect while entirely overwhelming.
Where do I start? What actions do I need to take?
In January I created an ambitious 2012 business plan for Pressbound, setting some larger goals for the year, breaking them down into quarterly goals, and then finally monthly goals (as seen above, yeah, really what was I thinking!!!). I’d completed one huge goal I set for the first quarter (Jan-March), redeveloping my website, but fell behind on pretty much everything else. It was obvious I was not going to achieve everything I planned for the year within the ambitious schedule I proudly hung on the wall in my home office back in January. “The Plan” was becoming a constant reminder of what I failed to accomplish. I was now flailing about with big ideas and no way of breaking them down into actionable and realistic steps.
I needed help.
There was no way I as getting too far on my own without making myself dizzy. I wanted a group of like minded-crafters I could relate to and ask for guidance at 3am while holding me accountable for my goals. I craved a mentor, guru, coach, whatever word of the day you prefer to use to help lead me down the right path. That’s when I stumbled across Tara Swiger and her Starship Adventure, which offered both. Tara was the guide I was looking for. She uses the analogy of “an adventure” for learning about and growing within your crafty biz and that we (the owners) are the “explorers.” Being an adventurous gal who loves the outdoors and travel, and knowing I was a little lost in the wilderness, it felt like the perfect fit. So I hopped on board the Starship as its newest “captain” sometime in early-June.
I began my adventure in the Starship with The Map-Making Guide. Instead of creating a detailed schedule for your goals this guide helps you map out a plan based on one specific goal with a clear “metric” or something tangible that helps you know your goal has been reached. It keeps breaking down your main goal into the smaller parts, until you have very specific actionable steps you can take with no specific schedule but a loose deadline you determine for your metric (one month, three months, etc.)
Map-Making Round One.
I’ll admit that I struggled with developing my first map. Tara and the Starship (this sounds like a band name, right?) were so incredibly helpful in the process of focusing and editing my ideas into less overwhelming and achievable goals. My first idea was to use my original goal I mentioned at the start of the post: to double my sales by the end of the year. But that lead to too many actionable steps that were still too general and needed to be broken down even farther. It didn’t seem possible to accomplish everything I wanted in six months. In fact, my first map idea pretty much mimicked my old 2012 business plan without a set schedule.
Map-Making Take Two.
My second map focused on new product development. The idea behind it is that new products will lead to increased sales thus being a step towards the larger goal of doubling my sales. I decided to give myself 3 months, which will now be the end of September/beginning of October to reach my metric: ten new or revised products. Once I decided on the 10 products I broke the creation of each down into actionable steps that I could accomplish within a day or two. This finally felt like a goal I could achieve and for the first time in forever I was clear and focused.
The final touch was converting the map I typed up in a document into a visual I can’t avoid, kind of like my old schedule but much prettier thus less scary (pictured above!). Like the old schedule this hangs on the wall in my home office, where I tend to do most of my administrative and design work. When a certain action is completed I can take the list of actions off the wall and cut that one off and put it back up. It will feel so much better than just crossing it off a list since once it’s done it no longer exists. I love that idea.
So what does this all mean for you?
In the next three months I’ll be hard at work designing and producing some incredible new products for you. The pics above may give you a little hint at what’s to come (if you can read the text!). I’ll be talking more about my first products to launch (which will be sooner than my 3-month goal) on the blog later next week.
p.s. Thanks again to my fellow Starship Captains and Tara for assisting me with finding so much clarity in my business. If you’re interested in creating your own map you don’t need to be part of the Starship. You can buy your own Map-Making guide by Tara Swiger here.