Tag Archives: etsy

2013: A Year in Review

Happy Holidays! Whew! I apologize for my radio silence for the majority of this year. I promise 2014 will be back on track around here!

I think I had a pretty good excuse for my distraction. You see, in 2013, we had a little baby owlette! Being pregnant and having a newborn kept me pretty busy!

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baby girl hazel

Now, I know this isn’t meant to be a lifestyle blog, so I will keep my gripes about being preggo and gushing about our new little hazelnut to a minimum. I’m now running Lazy Owl Boutique (the business and the blog) as a full-time stay-at-home-mom of a 3-month old (that was a lot of hyphens).

Business aside, 2013 was a great year for Lazy Owl, and I hope it was a record year for your creative business as well. I’ve revisited my blog posts from the end of last year, Planning for Positivity and a Year in Reflection. The lessons from these articles can easily be re-applied to this year. First, let’s review what we’ve accomplished in 2013!

Positive notes for me and my creative venture in 2013:

  • Continued to generate new content for this blog over the first quarter of the year, gaining new followers and ever-increasing stats (even without updates, the hits keep coming! make a website yall!)
  • Maintained steady sales orders and revenue over on Etsy
  • Became a vendor at a new local shop in Houston for handcrafted goods, The Tinderbox
  • Sold for the first time at Pop Shop Houston, a handmade holiday market, and it was AMAZING!
  • Got a new camera, learned to (sort of) use it, and upped my listing photography skills
  • Continued to re-do my branding and imagery (I updated my banner, Facebook look, and business cards so far), and learned how to use Photoshop to do so on my own
  • Experimented with some new product line ideas, and figured out what did and did not work (like I am never going to be good at calligraphy haha)

That was the good stuff. Considering all that happened for me personally in 2013 (mostly baby stuff), I’m glad I was able to accomplish anything business-wise. I will admit that my sales did not increase nearly as much as I had hoped for this year, but the limiting factor in that equation was myself. I just did not have the time or energy to put as much effort into Lazy Owl as I had planned, and without constant effort, you’re not going to get the bigger payoff. However, I think that’s what’s so great about being a creative entrepreneur…you’re in charge of your destiny. The business is here when you need it, and if you need to step back for a while to focus on other things, you have the flexibility to do so.

I’m re-posting the same free printable I posted last year, but with a few new tweaks to really get you thinking about what you accomplished this year and ramp up your planning for the next. I added the “Personal” section, along with a capstone question – What did you learn this year about your business and yourself as an entrepreneur? If you had to sum up 2013 as one big lesson to lend toward your success next year, what would you say? For me, I’d say that in 2013 I learned that Lazy Owl can only be as successful as I’m willing to make it. I can only make so much money and generate a certain level of success by letting it (and myself) coast along. It really is important for me to do a little something to benefit my business everyday if I truly want to reach the goals I have in the near future.

Here’s the downloadable printable in all its glory. Click to download and dig deep into what you’ve accomplished this year. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s important to give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve gotten done thus far!

free printable

SIDE NOTE! I just have to use this venue as my free plug for shopping Lazy Owl for the holidays. There’s still a few days left to order some fun handcrafted jewelry in time for Christmas! If you use code OWLBLOG you can get $5 off any order $15 or more!

Up next, we’ll discuss planning for positivity and growth in 2014!

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A Brief Intro to Taxes for your Creative Business

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Cue the happy music…it’s the most wonderful tiiiime of the year…do do do. No, not really. It’s tax season! If you have the pleasure of knowing a tax accountant, you probably won’t see them much between now and April 15th.

That’s right ladies and gents, it’s time to do your taxes! As an entrepreneur, you now have the responsibility to not only report your own personal income and expenses (and possibly your family’s), but also the income and expenses of your business.

First and foremost, you and your business are likely responsible for two types of taxes:

  1. Sales taxes paid to your state
  2. Income taxes paid to the federal government, and possibly also your state

When you first go into business, one of the first things you should do is get a state sales tax permit. This process will depend on your state, but it is usually a relatively painless and luckily, free, process. In Texas, it costs no money and you can easily apply online.

This is the gist of sales taxes – every time you sell an item, even if it’s an online sale, to another person in your state, you are responsible for charging them your state (and possibly city/county) sales tax percentage rate. The customer pays that extra tax money over to you, and you hold onto it until it’s time to pass it on to your state government tax agency. You’ll be responsible for paying your sales taxes on either a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. They aren’t really an expense to you, more so just a “pass through” in and out amount.

Income taxes are a different beast. These are the taxes you’re charged on all the money you make each year, whether it be your personal wages, investment dividends, or small business income.

Now we could talk about business income taxes for days on end (sounds thrilling right?), but today we’ll just leave it to a brief overview to get the wheels turning. First, I’m going to assume that your business is considered a “sole proprietorship”. This means your business is not a corporation, a partnership, an LLC, or any other separate legal entity. If you’ve never filed separate paperwork to incorporate your business (excluding your sales tax permit and your DBA license), chances are you are a sole proprietorship.

Your business’ legal status matters because it determines on which form you are reporting your income and expenses. For a sole proprietorship, you will report your business stuff on a special form called Schedule C, which is attached to your regular personal 1040 return. Some of the data from your Schedule C will actually end up flowing onto page 1 of your 1040.

Here is the IRS webpage for both the Schedule C AND the all important Schedule C instructions.

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just a little snippet of the Schedule C from 2011

Above is what part of page 1 of the 2011 Schedule C looked like. On the two pages of the Schedule C, you’ll have space to enter your business info, all your sales, and all the expenses and deductions related to your business. At the bottom of page 1, you will get the final number for your business’ taxable net profit or net loss, and this number then travels over to page 1 of your personal 1040. If you have net profit, that money will increase your taxes owed this year. If you have a net loss, it’s possible this money can decrease the amount of taxes you will owe.

So you can see, it’s really important to track all your expenses and deductions over the year. In reality, you of course want your busy to be profitable and have a net profit, but for tax purposes, the lower your net profit, the smaller the amount of taxes you will owe. That’s why having a good handle on your expenses helps.

Go ahead and take some time to get familiar with both the Schedule C and the Schedule C instructions; these instructions are particularly helpful since they go through each item on both pages of the Schedule C line by line with definitions. Even if you use a program like Turbo Tax to do your taxes, these instructions can offer some extra guidance.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you doing the taxes for your small business this year or consulting a tax professional?

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What is overhead and why do I need to know about it for my creative small business?

accounting for small business owners, etsy business

Last time in our Creative Accounting series, we discussed how important it is to keep track of every expense related to your creative small business. Today, we’ll zoom in on a particular category of your expenses, called “overhead”.

No, I’m not talking about you buying an overhead projector. Overhead is a term used in cost or manufacturing accounting (sounds scary? it is!). Your overhead expenses are all the expenses you incur to design, create, or manufacture your product, but they are not directly traceable to an individual product.

If you were running a giant factory and creating widgets, your overhead expenses would be things like the rent, utilities, wages to pay your factory workers, insurance, marketing fees, advertising, tools, machines, and indirect materials. These are all costs that are vital to keeping your business running. Without them, you would not be in operation, but you can’t exactly trace them to your finished products…like how much of your electricity bill helped generate that one widget? I’m sure with some complicated formula we could figure that out, but we don’t have time for that. We’ve got stuff to make!

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expenses_28sept2009_0522 (Photo credit: patrick h. lauke)

Your handcrafted small business has overhead expenses too. You probably spend money on lots of things that keep your business running smoothly, yet these expenses are not directly, easily traceable to every item you create. If you go back to the last post about your business’ expenses, the expense categories like indirect supplies and materials costs, tools, machines and other items used, and all of the non-product costs should be considered overhead expenses for your business.

In my humble opinion, one of the biggest mistakes Etsy entrepreneurs make is not taking these overhead expenses into account when pricing their goods. Like we mentioned in the past post, most of these expenses are deductible for tax purposes, but you should also try to recoup a little piece of your overhead expenses in every sale you make. I’m not going to talk about pricing formulas and those specifics today, but the point is you need to be thinking of the most sensible way to include a tiny portion of your overhead expenses in the price of each and every item you list for sale.

How do you go about doing that? Well, I’d start by tallying your estimated overhead expenses, either on a monthly or annual basis, whatever is easiest for you. That includes the following types of expenses:

accounting help for creative entrepreneurs

just a few examples of the overhead expenses your etsy business may incur

Once you get to an annual estimated total of these expenses, you need to find a way to work backwards to include a piece of this total sum in your pricing formula. There are lots of ways to do this. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Estimate how many products you will create this year. Take your total overhead expense number and divide it by the number of items. Add that number to the sales price of each item you list for sale. For example, $1000 in annual overhead divided by making 350 items this year means I need to increase the price of each item by $2.85 or so to recoup a chunk of overhead in every sale I make.
  • Same method as above, but instead of estimating your total items produced, estimate the total number of items you hope to sell this year. That way you are getting closer to truly recouping that overhead expense back with each and every sale.
  • Instead of adding a flat “fixed” overhead dollar amount to each sale price, you can use a percentage markup instead. Once you know the cost of direct materials and labor that went into creating a specific product, you might multiply that total by a specific overhead percentage (determined based on what feels sensible to you). For example, if these earrings cost me $6 to create and my overhead percentage is 20%, then I’m saying that product required about $1.20 of overhead expense to make, and really cost me $7.20 in total to create.

All overhead methods have their pros and cons. Using a fixed flat overhead rate is easiest, but using the same rate across the board for every product you make might not be best representing your true overhead costs per product. On the other hand, the percentage method allows you to add more overhead costs to your more expensive or time-consuming products, which probably really do use more overhead expenses. It all depends on what makes sense to you. The important thing is that you try to do something to include these costs somewhere in your pricing formula. If you don’t, you are much less likely to ever recover those expenses, and at the end of the day, your business is making less real profit than you might think. So get cracking on thinking about overhead!

I’d love to hear from you! What do you think is the most challenging part about bookkeeping for your handmade business?

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Using Google Analytics & Adding Google Analytics to your Etsy site

marketing for small businesses

Before we really delve into methods of marketing and spreading the word about your shop, let’s take a look at one of the sources you can utilize to evaluate the success of your future marketing efforts: Google Analytics. It’s a good idea to set up (or revisit your existing) Google Analytics account now, so that once you begin trying different marketing techniques, you can see if they’re making a difference.

Google Analytics (GA) is a metrics-tracking tool that gives the owner of a URL all sorts of interesting information about their site’s visitors, views, and more. Signing up for GA is 100% free! To link your Etsy shop URL to Google Analytics, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use your etsy shop’s main web address, http:// shopname .etsy. com (without the spaces), as the account name or default URL. Google will automatically capture the activity on both your shop page itself and all the little sub-pages for each of your listings.
  • Once you’re done with set up, GA should take you to your “Account Overview” page. Click the “Tracking Info” tab to find your Tracking ID. You can copy and paste this ID on Etsy to link the two accounts. You do NOT need to worry about pasting any HTML or javascript info to link your shop to your GA. That’s for non-Etsy stuff.
  • On the Etsy side, click “Your Shop” in the upper right corner, then scroll down and click “Options”, then click the “Web Analytics” tab. You can paste your GA tracking ID into the “Web Analytics” box here. It make take up to 24 hours for your GA account to begin working.
  • Check out the Etsy help page for more detailed info.

Now the fun begins! Your default GA landing page gives you a brief overview of the audience of your Etsy shop over the last month. If you scroll down, you’ll see a bunch of nifty percentages and even a pie chart of your repeat vs. new visitors. Hover your mouse over any of the stats to get a definition of that item.

To get more specific detail, check out the side bar on the left side of your screen. It could take you hours to examine all the juicy info under each of these items! Under “Audience”, you can find out what countries your visitors are visiting from, how many pages on your shop they’re checking out, and how long each visitor stays on your site on average.

“Traffic Sources” will tell you how people are finding your shop – via search terms, directly, or from other websites. You can even compare which source is giving you the highest rate of new visitors or which visitors spend the most time browsing your shop. This info helps you determine where your marketing time is most well spent; for example, I might notice that I’m getting lots of visitors from my Wanelo page, but those visitors spent an average of 50 seconds on my site and my bounce rate is in the 90s. Sounds like it’s not really worth my time to market there, and I might chose a source that has visitors with longer visitation lengths and lower bounce rates.

My favorite part of GA is the “Real Time” page. This page actually tells you how many visitors are currently on your page, where they’re coming from, and what they’re looking at during this very minute. You might think it’s a little creepy to cyber-spy on shoppers, but this is your chance to get some immediate feedback on how people are interacting with your shop! Next time you’re bored, go visit your Real Time page and watch what your next Etsy visitor does!

This is just barely skimming the iceberg of everything GA offers. The important part is to get set up and familiar with your stats as they are right now. It’s a good idea to record your current bounce rate and pages per visit. After you begin to put new marketing or advertising measures in place, GA will help you determine the effectiveness of your efforts! So get accustomed to your metrics now, and let’s work on getting them to improve!

Are you a stats junkie like me? Are you excited or intimidated by Google Analytics?

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Related Articles:

Financial Records for My Creative Business: Keeping Track of Expenses

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Last week, we talked about how important record-keeping or bookkeeping is for your crafty business.

Today, let’s talk about what sort of information you should be keeping track of in your new “books”. The rule of thumb is that when it comes to recording your financial info, you basically can’t record too much. Everything is important, whether for tax purposes or for your own calculations.

The biggest category of info that you will spend your time recording will be your business’ expenses. You might not realize it, but your business probably has lots and lots of expenses. Let’s divide our expenses into two categories, product-related and non-product-related.

Product-related expenses:

  • Direct supplies and material costs – these are the items that directly go into your sellable products. For a sewist, that’d be fabric, elastic, or ribbon. These are probably the most obvious expenses, and not too difficult to keep track of.
  • Indirect supplies and material costs – these are items that go into making a product, but we can’t necessarily track exactly how much of it goes into each item because it’s either impossible or cost-prohibitive. These are things like glue or thread. I know I used thread to make that purse, but I can’t tell you exactly how many inches or feet went into each one. I know I used glue to make my yarn wreath, but there’s no way for me to be totally sure how many ounces or what-nots of glue went into it.
  • Tools, machines, and other items used to create your sellable products – they aren’t literally a part of your product, but you couldn’t make it without them. Examples are your sewing machine, scissors, pliers, or a cutting mat.
  • Expenses related to putting your products up for sale and selling them – all those little fees and charges you pay to list your products online or accept payment for a sale, like Etsy listing fees, Etsy’s cut of your sale, Paypal charges, credit card fees, etc.
  • Shipping and Packaging costs – including boxes, mailers, labels, envelopes, a postage scale, and decorative packaging items. This also obviously includes the actual price of postage.

Non-Product Expenses:

  • Craft show registration fees
  • Startup and legal fees for licenses, permits, etc.
  • Display expenses, like jewelry stands, tags, earring cards, racks, tables, pop-up tent, etc.
  • Photography expenses, like a light box, new camera, props, editing software
  • Promotional material costs (like printing) for business cards, postcards, stationery, custom stamps, labels, etc.
  • Advertising expenses
  • Design and web development costs for your website, web hosting, logo, banner, etc.
  • Research and development expenses for product research, prototyping, business education classes or e-courses, consulting services, books, etc.
  • The cost of gas for driving to the post office, craft store, craft fair, business meeting, etc., and lodging for staying overnight for any of these reasons.

I divide your expenses into these two categories mainly for pricing reasons, which we’ll discuss in the future. Let’s just sum it up by saying all your product-related expenses (and possibly even some of your non-product-related expenses) should be considered when it comes time to price your product. A lot of beginning crafters make the mistake of only considering direct materials expenses when pricing their product and then end up grossly under-pricing themselves; look how many expenses they’re forgetting about!

The main point is that your business can have a lot of different expenses. And you need to be recording them all! Thorough expense-tracking serves two main purposes:

  1. You’ll get a better picture about whether your business is actually making a profit or not, and
  2. You’ll be able to use most of these expenses as deductions when tax time comes around.

About #1, are you really making money at the end of the day? When you make sales, it might feel like you’re raking in the cash. If you’re only subtracting the cost of your supplies from that revenue, you may feel like you’re really successful, and then wonder why your bank account doesn’t reflect that. If you are truly tracking all of your expenses, you can get a good grasp on whether your business is profitable, how much so, and adjust accordingly. You will also get a better idea of where you’re spending too much money and where you can cut back, and whether your pricing formula needs adjusting or not.

As far as #2 goes, the important thing to remember is that you need to keep proof of all your expenses. Save those receipts, yall! Or star your emails and file them away. Just don’t expect the IRS to be cool with hundreds of dollars of expenses with no support.

Whew! That was a lot of ground to cover. You may be left wondering about the best way to organize all these expense types. That answer all depends on what works best for you. An accounting-based program like Quickbooks or Outright.com will sort your expenses into nifty little accounts for you.

If you use the spreadsheet method (like myself), create a tab for each category or subcategory. For example, I have separate tabs for my main jewelry supply components (crystals, beads, buttons, earwires, etc.), a tab just for shipping costs, one for jewelry tools, and the list goes on. I then have a summary tab where I can use formulas to capture all these different expenses in one place, to see my total spending. The easier your system allows you to capture all your expenses in appropriate categories, the better.

That’s enough left-brain for today. Time to take a break and give yourself a pat on the back for paying attention through this entire post. It wasn’t too painful, was it? Check back next time for more accounting tips for creative businesses!

If you found this post helpful, I recommend you read my post about overhead expenses, which can also help you accurately price your goods for profit, and my post about getting your creative business ready for tax season.

I’d love to hear from you! What do you think is the most challenging part about bookkeeping for your handmade business?

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Crafting a Business 101: Creative Accounting

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Welcome to Lazy Owl’s newest article series, Creative Accounting, brought to you as a (hopefully) weekly feature as part of the Crafting a Business 101 series.

You may or may not know, but by day I am a *gasp*…accountant! A certified public accountant, or a CPA, to be exact. I’ve also been the owner/designer/bookkeeper for a little jewelry shop on Etsy called Lazy Owl Boutique since early 2011. So, I feel pretty okay about talking to you about basic accounting concepts, how they relate to your business, and most importantly, WHY they should matter to you.

To some people, “accounting” is considered a four-letter word, but as a small business owner, it’s important to have a grasp on financial concepts and bookkeeping skills. If you ignore your financial responsibilities it will eventually bite you in the proverbial butt! Don’t be intimidated by spreadsheets, numbers, paperwork, or formulas. It’s time to make your business work for you. If you take the time to sit down and educate yourself and then apply your new knowledge to your business, you will learn all sorts of things – how to save on your taxes, how to properly price your items, whether or not you are actually making a profit, how to increase your profit…the list goes on and on! Mastering your creative business’s finances will take you from crafting as a hobby to owning a bonafide small business.

Let’s ease into this. We’re never going to talk about anything super complex or confusing, so you can exhale now. And I promise you will learn some stuff that you can actually use to make your business run a little bit more smoothly.

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I’d like to begin this series by talking about bookkeeping. Call it what you want – record-keeping, tracking expenses, saving receipts. Don’t let the funny term “bookkeeping” confuse you. I’m just talking about recording, in written or electronic form, your expenses (ALL your expenses) and your sales revenue. And I don’t mean stockpiling receipts in a shoebox (of which I may or may not be guilty).

20121121 NCR Class 160 Bookkeeping Machine

20121121 NCR Class 160 Bookkeeping Machine (Photo credit: Degilbo on flickr)

All good finances begin with good bookkeeping. You cannot possibly get a clear picture of your business’s overall expenses, profit, or just plain ole financial success if you are not recording everything. Can you imagine Apple not knowing if they even made any money in 2012? That is basically what you are doing if you aren’t keeping track of these things.

Check it out – we just began a brand new year 2013! The slate of shoddy financial record keeping has officially been wiped clean for you. Do yourself and your business a favor and come up with a bookkeeping system now that you can use for your business all year. Whether it be a software program, like Quickbooks, an internet-based application like Outright.com, a simple spreadsheet, or even a special bookkeeping paper notebook and a trust calculator, you need to find a method that will do what you need AND that you will actually use right now. That means don’t pay out the wazoo for something with so many bells and whistles that you don’t understand how to enter a simple receipt. Start small if you need to and you can expand your system as needed. To me, the best method to begin with (and honestly the method I still use today) is a simple Excel spreadsheet. So if you’re short on funds or time, just open up a new spreadsheet and get started.

Now’s a fun time (if you are a nerd like myself at least) to ask other Etsy entrepreneurs and small business owners what sort of bookkeeping system they use. You’re creative, right? Think of your bookkeeping system as an extension of the creative “fun” of owning your own business. You can “design” your system to be a reflection of you and your brand. Want a color-coded spreadsheet with fun fonts? Go for it. Want a snazzy painted file cabinet system to sort your receipts and paperwork? Do whatever works to keep you motivated to consistently update your financial records.

Next week, we’ll talk about exactly what you should be recording in your new bookkeeping system. So start savings those receipts and I’ll see you then!

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Planning for Positivity in 2013

crafting a business 101

Last post of 2012! We’re running out of time to think about our goals for the new year. Like we’ve talked about before here, here and here, it’s time to brainstorm and put in writing a set of measurable, specific goals for your creative business to strive for in 2013.

Here are some guidelines to consider when brainstorming goals for your creative business:

  • Don’t set yourself up for failure. Examine what you achieved in 2012. What were your sales, revenue, and profit-levels like this year? What are some realistic goals for 2013? Your goals should require some challenge and “stretch”, but still be attainable with a bit of hard work.
  • Your goals should be specific and measurable. Don’t just say “I want to increase sales”. Come up with an actual benchmark dollar amount (like “I want to make $5000 in sales.” or “I want to average $2000 in sales per month.”). Giving yourself specific benchmarks will increase your motivation to reach them. Plus, they make it easier to measure whether you were successful or not.
  • Your goals should have deadlines in order to hold yourself accountable. If you’re like me, you work better (and harder!) under a deadline.
  • Think about the path to achieving each goal you set from every angle. I want to increase profit. To do that, I can work on increasing sales revenue and decreasing expenses and overhead.
  • Sometimes it’s about quality and not quantity. One of my goals for Lazy Owl is to increase my sales numbers, but if I make a whole lot of $10 sales, I’m not really boosting my bottom line as much as if I made more $40 sales. Thus, my goals also include increasing items sold per order and to offer more higher-priced popular items.
  • All your goals don’t need to be about sales numbers or dollar amounts. Maybe you need to keep better track of your sales and expenses for tax records. That can be a goal, with a specific measurement of updating your records at least once a week. You might also think about increasing your fan base numbers on your facebook page or other business-related websites. There are many other business areas you can think about improving that indirectly increase sales and profits.

Here’s a basic two-page worksheet to record your 2013 goals on. Feel free to print and include in your creative business binder. There’s a space at the top to include your business name. I split the worksheet into four categories of business goals, and each table has space for you to write your specific goal, how you will measure your success, and that goal’s deadline.

2013 Goal Worksheet pg 1

Your goals should be very specific to your business needs, but to get the wheels turning, here are some examples of goals:

  • Sales goals:
    • Increase sales revenue
    • Increase number of sales
    • Increase sales on particular venues (Etsy, bigcartel, own website, offline, craft show, local, etc.)
    • Increase average revenue per order
    • Increase orders of multiple items
    • Begin selling in X amount of boutiques or shops
    • Participate in X number of craft shows
  • Financial goals:
    • Increase profit (net income = sales revenue less expenses)
    • Decrease expenses
    • Keep better inventory records
    • Consistently track expenses, sales, inventory, supplies, etc.
    • Improve records for tax purposes
    • Improve pricing formula
    • Boost profit margin
  • Marketing goals:
    • Increase facebook fans or twitter followers
    • Increase Etsy views, hearts, etc.
    • Increase blog/website/e-newsletter subscribers or views
    • Increase number of blog posts/facebook posts/tweets each week or month
    • Develop your own website/blog/e-newsletter/direct mailing list
    • Make the frontpage of Etsy X times
    • Get published in a print or e-magainze
    • Guest post on other blogs
    • Participate more in Etsy teams or other forums
    • Make X amount of Etsy treasuries
    • Get featured on a specific relevant website
    • Leave business materials in X amount of local businesses
  • Other Business Goals:
    • List X amount of new items on Etsy each week/month
    • Develop X amount of new product lines this year
    • Revamp your logo, brand, website, shop, etc.
    • Redesign or develop your business cards, custom catalog, etc.
    • Learn more about specific business topics, like SEO, HTML, product photography, bookkeeping, etc.
    • Complete your creative business plan.

    Write your goals down and keep them in a visible place. Throughout the year, you should take some time once a month or at least once a quarter to review your goals, determine your progress, and adjust as necessary. Seeing your goals will give you the kick in the pants you might need every now and then to get back on track.

I hope this helped you to begin thinking about planning for next year. I wish you, your loved ones, and your creative business success and happiness in 2013! See you next year yall!

What are some of your most important goals for your creative business in 2013?

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Inspiration Station: Your Ideal Work Day

Remember that post about planning out our goals for 2013? Well, we need to get some specific, measurable goals laid out. Just like with the creative business plan, I like to start thinking about things from a big picture point of view, then slowly zoom in to the nitty gritty details.

Before I come up with my specific 2013 goals, I’m going to brainstorm what my ideal work day looks like. Then I can work backwards to see what exactly I need to accomplish with my business to be able to have that “ideal work day” every work day! Make sense?

So here we ago, my ideal work day for Lazy Owl:

  • 8:30 – 9:30 – Wake up, have morning coffee and (healthy) breakfast whilst reading daily blogroll, taking notes on any business ideas or inspiration that interests me. Commenting on my favorite blogs and doing some social networking!
  • 9:30 –  11:00 – Fill and package outstanding Etsy orders. Respond to customer emails and questions. Work on updating inventory and sales records. Evaluate supply and inventory levels. Re-order supplies if necessary. Do other Etsy admin tasks as needed.
  • 11:00 – 1:30 – Run to post office, run other errands. Take the dogs for a walk. Have lunch. Take a break or go to the gym (hey, I said ideal day right).
  • 1:30 – 4:00 – Work on website & blog. Draft and post new article(s). Brainstorm new topics and series ideas. Social media marketing and networking.
  • 4:00 – 5:30 – Photograph new Etsy listings, list online.
  • 5:30 – 9:00 – Break time! Do household chores, eat dinner, spend time with husband, etc.
  • 9:00 – 10:30 – Crafting time! Work on new jewelry items or whatever else I’m crafting up.
  • Bedtime at midnight.

Ok, so it was actually quite weird for me to write all that out on an hour-by-hour basis. It made me feel like there’s so much time in a day, but in reality I am always scrambling to fit all these things in. I don’t know if that schedule is actually livable for me, but my goal is that during my ideal day I would love to be able to squeeze in:

  • Time to research what’s going on in the blogosphere, on Etsy, and with other Etsy businesses (this is my biggest problem, I find content I want to delve into, open it in a new Firefox tab, but then end up with 60 open tabs that I never seem to have time to go back and truly read)
  • Write for the blog
  • Generate meaningful content for my website, market and connect with other businesses and potential customers, promote Lazy Owl to my target audience
  • Create new products, photograph and list them
  • Take time for myself and for my family – be outside, exercise, be healthy, have some fun!
  • Run errands and do household chores without falling behind
  • Support local businesses and connect with my local community

Realistically, I can probably not do all of these things in one day. But now I know what I would like to do with my time, and what is most important to me. That is half the battle. I can make goals to get closer to be able to have this ideal day now!

What does your ideal work day look like? Download the above worksheet for helping you plan out your ideal work day.

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2013: Let’s Grow!

Everybody in the blogosphere lately has been talking about prepping your business for 2013, listing goals, making plans, filling out timelines, etc… It’s hard for me to think about beginning a new year with my Christmas goggles on, but there’s no use denying the inevitable (unless of course, the Mayans were right, then I’ve got nothing to worry about).

So, I agree. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be sitting down with pen in hand to think about my plans for next year, and more importantly, specific, attainable, and measurable goals for Lazy Owl. For me, 2011 was all about just starting. 2012 was about figuring things out, what worked and what didn’t work. My overall theme for 2013 will be to grow.

Are you ready for your creative venture to grow? Then come join me! Via our Crafting a Business series, we’ll explore both meaty detailed business concepts and motivational thoughts, giving you the research, tools, and inspiration you need to grow your business in 2013.

My goal is to grow Lazy Owl a little bit every month, every week, even every day. You can do it too with your Etsy shop or whatever your creative business may be. Small steps leading to big changes. Let’s talk about pricing methods, let’s really research SEO and tagging, let’s improve our photography skills and our customer service offerings, let’s explore our target market, let’s have more fun! You’ve already taken the plunge to going into business for yourself…now let’s really make it work! A creative entrepreneur should be willing to be constantly growing, learning, and improving.

I made myself the above print to hang in my crafting studio to remind me to do just a little something to help my business (and myself) grow a little bit each and every day! It’s a marathon, not a sprint, right?

Stay tuned for more articles, tidbits, worksheets, and printables for the rest of this year and throughout 2013. I welcome you to join us by subscribing to the Lazy Owl newsletter to get updates directly to your inbox! Just enter your email address in the little box to the right.

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Holiday Bootcamp Kick Off

Waaaaaahhhhhhh!  I’m sort of trying to swallow down a nervous breakdown right now.  A week from yesterday, I leave for my happy place, Walt Disney World resort in Florida.  A week from tomorrow, I am going to attempt the impossible — running (jogging? walking? limping? crawling?) 13.1 miles as part of Disney’s Food & Wine Half-Marathon.

I know I had made some promises a while back to keep you all posted on my training progress, and maybe you are wondering where all those promised updates are…well, I have barely been training! Ahhhhhhhh.  The longest I’ve gone in preparation for this is 9 miles.  And I’ve done that twice.  And the last time was like 3 weeks ago.  I have only run once this week (4 measly miles).  I’m promising myself that I will do 9 miles again this weekend since it’s my last chance to squeeze in another long run…but….we’ll see.

Anyway, running-related freakage aside, I’ve been slowly building up some anxiety related to my Etsy shop and this holiday season.  Two issues — I want my shop to be in tip-top shape for the upcoming holiday rush (assuming there is a rush for me), and I’ve signed up for two craft shows in Houston where I will attempt to sell my wares in person for the first time EVAR.

There are many, MANY things I need to do to prep for a for-reals craft fair.  Hopefully preparing for the craft shows will help get my Etsy shop into gear as well.  Yesterday, I received week 1’s issue of Etsy Success’ Holiday Bootcamp, and I really need to follow some of the advice the blog article suggests.  So, in an attempt to get my butt in gear, I’m going to start listing some goals for myself.  Maybe you can follow along too!

Etsy’s Holiday Bootcamp

Lazy Owl Boutique Holiday Goal Outline(very official name)

  • Increase inventory, with a goal to at least double inventory by October 29 (date of first craft show)
    • Begin by focusing on inventory that will sell well at craft shows:
      • Make more wire-wrapped rings in variety of sizes
      • Make more bunting necklaces, particularly ones with school colors (focus on Texas schools and SEC schools for now)
      • Make more vintage glass jewel earrings
  • Order supplies as needed
    • Inventory supplies — earwires, craft wire, crystals
    • Craft show supplies? — another table, table coverings, risers, receipts, vendor apron, earring cards, merchandise bags, stickers, etc. etc..
  • Prepare/create displays for craft shows– ring boxes, earring frames, doorknob necklace holders, earring/necklace trees, price signs, shop name banner, etc. etc.
  • Update inventory catalog and pricing — I’ve gotten really lazy about entering my supplies and costs into my inventory spreadsheet, how will I know where to price my items if my supply costs are not accurate?
  • Photograph and list, list, list on Etsy all these new items I’m making!!

*Sigh*…I basically just need to set aside more time…more time to create items, but also to update my inventory/pricing spreadsheets, take photos, and list items.  I feel like all that admin stuff takes more time than actually creating, but I guess that’s the way it is!

Do you have a plan to get ready for the upcoming holiday season?  Feel free to share!  Or give me advice, I love advice…