Goal Setting for Craft Sellers
Welcome to Episode 14 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. In this episode I am talking about goal setting and how craft sellers can use it to help boost their business. As well as explaining a simple way to set achievable goals, I also give examples of goal setting from a craft seller’s point of view.
Listen to the Goal Setting for Craft Sellers podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number fourteen Goal Setting for Craft Sellers
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
Many years ago I read a book on success and achievement and it mentioned the subject of setting goals. This article was very interesting, with many examples of studies into the benefits of goal setting. Whilst reading I was nodding my head and thinking “Gosh, this sounds jolly handy, I really should try this!”
But, for some reason, I didn’t actually try it. Time passed and I forgot my intentions to do so.
A few years later and I was once more reading, a book by a very successful businessman who I admire. He dedicated a chapter to setting goals, how he did it and the benefits it bought him. I found myself thinking “Hmm, perhaps I really should have a go at this goal stuff…”
Luckily this time I went ahead and tried a few tentative goals. Much to my amazement… it worked! I was able to fulfil my goals quickly and painlessly. Then I wished I had tried it back when I had first heard about it!
I read more about goal setting and began setting more goals.
Nowadays I use goal setting as an essential part of both my business and my personal life.
Because this is the Craft Seller Success Podcast, I am going to be talking about setting and using goals very much with the idea of using them for a craft selling business. However, the same principles can be applied to any goals. You can use them for other business projects, and in your personal life too.
I am going to first say a bit about the general principles of goal setting. These are very simple and easy to remember and implement.
Then I am going to talk about some actual example of goal setting in action. I will also be talking about how I am using goal setting right now for a big project. I would like to open a new online store selling a new range of craft products. To accomplish this I will be setting goals and using them daily.
How goals can help you
Setting goals has multiple benefits. It helps you focus clearly only what you want to achieve. Goal setting provides a framework, a blueprint, which you can follow to achieve the goal. It can significantly motivate you and, of course, it greatly improves your chances of getting the things you want in life.
What is a Goal?
Let’s just quickly talk about what is a goal. Sometimes people have problems achieving their goals because these goals are not really goals at all.
Something like “I want to earn more money” is not a goal. If you earn one penny or one cent more next year would you feel you had realised this goal? Nope. This is just a casual statement. A goal is more specific. A proper goal is achievable. Casual statements, dreams and general thoughts often aren’t.
So what is a proper goal? That is what is coming next…
How to set goals
Most books and articles on setting goals will give you a simple acronym for remembering how to set a good, strong, achievable goal. And I am going to do exactly the same thing here.
The word to remember is SMART. SMART goals are goals that work.
Let’s look at what the letters SMART stand for. Once you remember this you will be able to set great goals.
There are a couple of different interpretations of the acronym SMART. I will mention a couple of the variations and you can use whichever you think is most relevant for you.
S – specific
Your goal must be specific, it must clearly describe what you want. “I want to earn more money” is not at all specific. How much more? “I want to earn twice as much money by this time next year” is far more specific. “I want to get more visitors to my shop” is not specific. How many is “more”? How long are you prepared to wait for these extra visitors? The other parts of the SMART acronym will add up to help you ensure that your goals are Specific.
M – measurable
As in the previous examples, you can see that you need to be able to know when you have actually achieved your goal.
Some goals are easy to see if you have achieved them. “My goal is to get a new potters wheel by February 1st”. Clearly, if February the 1st comes around and you have the potters wheel then you know you have realised the goal! If you don’t have the wheel, well, you can see that too. It is a simple case of yes or no.
Other goals are more easy to measure over time. “My goal is to sell 10 items a week by the New Year” for example. You will be able to see if your average weekly item sales are going up or not. You will also be able to see what your average is at when New Year comes around. It is easy to see if you have hit the target or not.. and to see how you are progressing as you go along.
All goals MUST be measurable. If you can not see whether you have achieved the goal then it is not a goal at all.
A – achievable or agreed upon
If you are working with other people then you may want to use A for “agreed upon”. Basically, does everyone involved in the goal agree with it and how you are going to tackle it.
If you are setting goals alone then “achievable” may be more useful to use.
Ask yourself the question “Is this goal possible?” You may want to think of questions like “Have I ever done anything like this before? Has anyone ever done this before? Have I got what I need to do this, or can I get it? Do I know what I need to know to do this?” and so on.
Asking these questions may well give you lots of ideas for how to actually achieve the goal.
R – relevant or realistic
Is the goal relevant to you? Will achieving it have a positive effect on your business, will it make your life better in some way?
You COULD save up to buy a new embroidery machine, but would this be the wisest use of the money? Is there anything else you need more?
You COULD open a new shop on Amazon Handmade but would it really bring in lots of new sales? Would you be better concentrating on your existing shop or shops? Have you researched the costs, potential issues and benefits thoroughly?
Is this goal really the best goal for your business right now?
Realistic is about whether you can actually hope to achieve this goal or not. Here is where you must be honest with yourself.
If I were to say that my goal was to win Wimbledon tennis finals next year it would clearly be a very unrealistic goal. I am too old, too out of condition, oh, and I have never had a tennis lesson in my life. Clearly, this goal is impossible for me to achieve. It would be a waste of my time and effort to try.
You might want to sell 20 knitted hats every week, but if you can physically only knit one a day this is clearly impossible. You would need to make some significant amendments to the goal to make it possible. This might be lowering the number of sales, sell 5 a week, or expanding the timeline, sell 20 a month. Or making some changes to your business model: such as buying basic hats and decorating them, getting someone to help you knit hats, using a knitting machine, or using a faster to knit pattern and so on.
Your goal must be realistic if you want to have a chance to achieve it.
T – Time-based
This is the one that lots of people forget. Setting a time limit on a goal really helps the chances of that goal being achieved.
It is very easy to say “I really must do something or other”. We all say this sort of thing, every day, but never actually get around to doing the something or other. I really want to double my shop takings! I really want to get more visitors to my new website. I really want to post regular blog posts. And so on.
Once you add the time factor things become more accountable. Now you need to get on and actually do the thing! Now you need a plan of action, to get working and to achieve your goal!
Be sure the time you set is realistic. Many goal setters purposely set their time limits a little further away than they actually think they need. They do this because it feels so good to achieve a goal ahead of time! Try it, you will soon see what I mean! And once this has worked a couple of times, you will find yourself keener than ever to achieve your goals as quickly as possible!
The Finishing Touches
Write your goal down. Studies have shown again and again that goals that are written down are far more likely to be achieved that those that are not. Writing things down makes them seem more real, more important and more accountable. Some people like to rewrite their goal regularly to help reinforce the message to themselves that this is where they are aiming.
Many people recommend writing your goal as if it were already achieved. This apparently helps your brain accept and embrace the goal.
So say things like:
“As of 1st September I have 100 visitors a day to my new shop”, “In the New Year I have 150 products in my Etsy shop”,
“By my birthday I have a social media plan in action and am posting to my accounts at least twice a week.”
Look at your goals regularly. Again, studies have found that regularly rereading your goals can help keep you motivated and on the path of achieving them. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Write out your goal and pin it up on the wall near where you work
- Rewrite your goal in your planner or diary at the start of every month (or week)
- Create a piece of craft with your goal on it – cross-stitch it, art journal it, paint it on a pot
Think about your goals – as much as you can. I think about my goals every night before I go to sleep. I imagine myself achieving them and how great I will feel about this. First thing each morning I again think about them. I then feel charged up to use the coming day to work towards them.
The more you think about your goals, the easier it will be to make progress and spot any useful opportunities to help you on your way.
Goal Setting in Action
So let’s look at goal setting in action. The example I am going to talk about now is not hypothetical. I want to open a new online craft shop and want to use goal setting to help me do this. I am going to talk you through the actual process I am using to achieve this goal.
Firstly, I need to be sure of what I actually want. You can’t set a goal unless you have a clear purpose in mind.
My initial goal is:
I have a new store on Etsy selling my new range of craft products. I have 20 products on the day of launch. The shop opens on 1st November 2018.
This goal covers the SMART criteria:
- Specific – I have clarified that it is to be an Etsy store and that I want 20 products available for opening day
- Measurable – I will be able to tell when I have reached the goal because the shop will be online and open for business
- Attainable – I know it is possible to open an Etsy shop because I already have two!
- Realistic – I am confident I have the necessary knowledge and skills required to achieve my goal or can obtain any that I currently lack
- Time – I have set a date of 1st November which is, at the time of writing this, two months away. I actually suspect I will be able to get everything ready quite a bit sooner than this. But I have factored in a leeway in case of problems, plus the fact it is an unusually busy time of the year in other areas of my life. I can revise this time frame later if I need, of course.
I have phrased the goal in the present tense and have written it in my planner.
Now I have a clear overall goal I can look at what I need to do to achieve it.
Update: November 2018 – this new online store, Tin Teddy Die Cuts, is now live on Etsy! See, goal setting works 🙂
How to tackle my goal
Firstly I created a mind map using the free software XMind. This program is an easy way to create a mind map or a brain dump. You can also do mind maps with a pen and paper, but using software is tidier!
I divided the project into four areas – research, products, shop and marketing
For each area, I began to list the various things I would need to do.
So for Research, I have things such as
- “look into shipping costs”
- “do current supplies inventory audit”
- “where will I store finished items?”
- “research keywords and SEO for this niche”
I spent a couple of days on the mind mapping, adding things as I thought of them. Then I printed out the finished mind map and asked my mother (a fellow crafter) if she could think of anything else I might need to do.
Then I wrote out a list of all the things I need to do to achieve the goal, using the mind map as a guide. I created a simple spreadsheet and for each item, I had four columns. One is the name of the thing to do, then the date I aim to do it by, then the date I actually do it, and finally a column for extra notes, where needed.
Each of these things, or tasks, I call a “mini goal”.
Once I had the full list, I could resort it into the order of the required completion dates so I could see what should be done first.
As I created this list, I broke some of the mini goals into yet smaller chunks.
So, for example, I had on my mind map the task of “create 20 products by 1st November”
This is 20 products in 4 weeks, so I then split it into four mini goals of “Create 5 products in week 1”, “Create 5 products in week 2” and so on.
Another example is that I had the mini goal of “buy small plastic bags to protect products during shipping”. As my products will vary somewhat in size I changed this into three smaller goals, being:
- “Work out what sizes of plastic bags I will require on launch”
- “research best place to buy plastic bags”
- “buy the plastic bags”
- “on arrival, batch the bags by size and clearly label”
You can break the goals down as much as you feel you want to. Each final mini-goal should be something that is actionable, something you can actually do.
So finally I have a list of what I need to do to achieve my goal. It is in date order so I can prioritise easily. When setting the dates I was careful to think about what each mini goal will need. I can’t label up those plastic bags until I have decided what I want and bought them, and they have arrived! And I don’t want to start promoting my new shop until I have it stocked and ready for visitors etc. Although I do want to have my marketing planned in advance of the day of the “grand opening”.
This list is then the basis of my To Do list each day.
When thinking about a big overall goal it can seem a little hard to decide what to do first. This system makes it much easier to know what one should be concentrating on right now.
I also consider whether some tasks should be batched together to make them easier or quicker. My new Etsy shop logo and avatar will be a square and round version of the same logo. It seems logical to create them at the same time.
I also decided that although I will make 5 products each week, I will photograph them all at the same time.
Decisions like this can really help your workflow so it is worth taking some time to look over your mini goal list and think about if you could benefit from a bit of batching.
My list is not carved in stone. I can amend it as I go along. I might decide that a mini goal is too big to tackle as it is so I will break it down into smaller chunks. Or I might realise that I can not finish something by the date I had set – I can amend the date. Or I might think of something else that needs doing, and can then add it in to be dealt with.
I can easily see what I have done by the date finished column.
What if your Goal is not so Easy To Break into Chunks?
Some goals require a slightly different approach. Let’s take, for example, a common goal for craft sellers – “I want to double my shop’s takings by 6 months from now.” How do you break that one down into manageable chunks?
I deal with this sort of goal in two distinct stages.
Firstly it is important to know how much you are taking in your shop right now. You can’t plot a path to somewhere else if you don’t know where you are starting from.
So I would work out my average weekly takings for the past few months, and also for this time last year (especially if my shop had seasonal sales variations). Now I know exactly what “double my shop’s takings” means and I can revise my original goal to include this figure.
Remember – Measurable and Specific.
Then I would do a quick audit of where my shop is right now so I can get a better idea of what I can look at to improve.
How many products do I have, what price ranges are they, how long do they take to make etc. If you have an up to date Business Plan or shop audit you will have this info already. The next episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast is all about how to do a shop audit so you may want to check that out.
Now you may be able to see some potential issue with your plan. If you sell wooden boxes, and you can not make more than one box a day, then if you are currently selling 5 boxes a week, it is impossible to double this to 10 a week. You just don’t have enough pairs of hands!
To achieve the goal you would need to get help, change your creation process so it was faster in some way, add new products that you can make faster or consider changing your existing products.
Otherwise, the goal, as it stands, is not achievable.
I would also make notes about my current marketing situation. What social media am I using, how is that converting? Am I using any paid marketing?
Next, I would again use a mind map. I would be thinking about all the things I could do to improve my takings. At this stage even slightly crazy ideas go on the mind map – I will thin them out later.
It might be worth asking friends or family for ideas too at this stage.
Search online for ideas as well – there are lots of great resources for craft sellers looking to increase sales.
Some of the things I might consider would be:
- Improving social media campaigns
- Paid marketing
- Increasing stock levels
- Introducing new product lines
- Checking competition for ideas for new products/options
- Can I improve the perceived value of my products (check out Episode 7 for more on this, by the way)
- Consider selling on other online sites or creating a new shop
- Could I do more craft fairs?
- Am I sure of my target market? Can I better point my marketing at them?
And so on…
Once your brainstorm is complete you can look at your mind map and remove any ideas you now think are not so good, until you have just the ones you believe will best help you achieve your goal.
From here you treat each of these ideas as a mini goal. You can create a list of actionable items for each mini goal, and a list of all the mini-goals together.
So I might have mini goals of:
- “Design and add 10 new items to my shop by the end of this month”
- “Before the 23rd, search online for upcoming craft fairs I could attend”
- “Revise my social media plan so that I am posting at least three times a week to all social networks used.”
Obviously, with this sort of goal, it is harder to guarantee you will achieve it.
Two More Sorts of Goal and How You Can Tackle Them
The example of my new shop is a project type of goal. But not all goals are like this. With the project goal, you can always break it down into small, actionable mini-goals. As long as you do all the mini-goals, you will achieve the overall goal.
Let’s briefly look at two other common sorts of goals and how to tackle them.
The Quantity Goal
Your goal might be to reach a quantity of something. As a craft seller, this might be “To have 100 items in my shop by March 1st” or “To save up £1000 over the next 10 months to buy a new embroidery machine for my shop”.
There are three ways you can tackle this sort of goals.
The Trickle Way
Here you divide the amount you want to reach by the time you have given yourself to create mini-goals. So if March 1st is 5 months away you can break this into “List 20 new items each month for 5 months”. You can then further break it down to “List 5 new items each week for 5 months”. If you wanted to, you can even refine this further – “List 1 item a day, every weekday, for 5 months.”
You can see, at this point, whether your goal is achievable. If it takes at least 2 days to make your products then clearly you can’t possibly make 100 in time. You will need to get help, find a way to speed up your process or lengthen the time limit on your initial goal.
Let’s imagine this as a graph. On the Y axis, going up, you have the number of items made and on the X-axis, going across, you have the months.
The finished graph will be a straight line going up as you are achieving the goal in steady increments.
For the example of saving £1000 in 10 months, you could break it down to “Save £100 a month for 10 months”. If you are able to do this, you will hit the goal on target. If you don’t think you can save £100 a month, you can consider the other sorts of ways to tackle the goal…
The Burst Way
Here you work towards the goal in bursts, rather than making steady progress. So for the example of making 100 new products in 5 months, it might look like this.
20 of the products are quite quick to make, so you make them all within month 1. Then you spend two months making the next 10 items. The remaining 70 products need 1 month to create the basic products – you do them all in a big batch. Then a couple of weeks to finish the products and finally a few more weeks to list them.
The imaginary graph for this would be a burst of 20 items at first. Then a plateau for two months before another little jump upwards. Then another plateau with a huge jump upwards at the end as you finish the last 70 items.
This is perhaps easier to imagine with the example of saving £1000 in 10 months.
Let’s say that you start off by selling some of your clutter on eBay, you raise £200, so that is a good start. You then are unable to add any more to your savings for a couple of months. Next, you launch a new line in your craft shop, with lots of marketing, and for the following month, you make enough to be able to squirrel away £400. Again a few months pass, in which you add just a few pounds each week. Finally, with just a few weeks until the goal date, you get money for your birthday which you add to the funds to hit the £1000 goal.
Again the graph for this would consist of sudden jumps up and then plateaus.
The Hybrid Way
As you will probably guess, this is a mixture of the Trickle Way and the Burst Way. You are doing something steadily, over time, but may be able to do a few bursts to boost progress as you go along.
With the saving money example, you may be boosting with selling clutter, or windfalls, as well as putting a regular amount away each month.
The graph for the Hybrid way is generally a straight line but with some upwards jumps in it.
Should you tell others about your goals?
This is something I have often heard people ask. There are good arguments for and against doing so, and ultimately you will have to consider your circumstances and then decide.
Reasons for Telling Others About Your Goals:
Many people find that by telling someone else about a goal, they make themselves more accountable. It is harder to give up when you know that your friend will be asking you how you are getting on.
Friends or family members may be encouraging and supportive. They may be able to offer practical help or information that helps you achieve your goals.
Your goals may involve other people so they have to know about them. For example, if you are wanting to turn a bedroom into an office or craft room, you will probably need the cooperation of other household members.
Some people have “goals buddies”. You share your goal with your buddy and vice versa. You then encourage each other.
Reasons Against Telling Others About Your Goals
Some people may try to dissuade you from your goal. This may be well-intentioned, or, sadly, through jealousy or malice. Whilst it is easy to say thing like “Oh, ignore what others say, these are your goals, you go for them!” we all know that if the people we care about and criticising us, and sometimes even when it is total strangers doing the scorning, well, it can indeed cause us to lose faith in ourselves.
If your goals are very big ones, likely to be hard and lengthy to achieve, you may find it easier to only share the little stage goals. Keep the big end goal to yourself, at least until you are well on the way to proving any potential nay-sayers wrong.
If your goals are clear, if you have used the SMART criteria, and if you really, really want to achieve them, then you know that it is worth trying to do so.
What if you can’t reach a goal?
I am now going to tell you the big secret about goal setting. Yes, seriously, here is the juicy bit. And you don’t need to climb a mountain, meditate, sell your soul or pay me a penny.
Once you start on the journey towards a goal, it is impossible to totally fail.
What? I hear you exclaim, perhaps with a dramatic flourish of your hands, ”Stuff and nonsense, woman, of course, I can fail, I am damn good at failing I will have you know, and I know I could fail at my goals, I can think of examples!”
Ah, bear with me.
Let’s take a simple goal. The previously mentioned one of saving up £1000 for a piece of crafting equipment ready to buy it in 10 months time.
Now, you start saving. You make some changes to your lifestyle and put £100 a month into your savings account.
Five months pass and your car breaks down. Argh! You need to pay for the repairs right away as you need that car. So, naturally, with much regret, you drain your lovely little goal nest egg of the £500 you had so far collected.
Again I hear you, dear listener, saying “See, I failed! Told ya I could!”
But no, you haven’t failed. Just think about if you hadn’t started on this goal at all. Where would you have been then? £500 poorer, that’s where. Whilst, sure, you are back at zero for this particular goal, and will no doubt need to amend the timeline a bit, but failed? Not at all. You have delayed, yes, but you have also proved to yourself that you can save up £500 in 5 months. So now you have more confidence than ever that you will get to your overall goal!
Plus you were able to pay £500 towards that pesky car repair bill.
Let’s say your goal was to create 10 new product lines for your shop before the first of June.
You get going, but after a couple of weeks your poor Aunt Lucy is taken ill and you go to stay with her whilst she recuperates. You have only managed to get 3 new products made so far, and will not be home again until after June.
You now have three new lines for your shop. Three new lines you wouldn’t have had if you hadn’t worked on your goal. You have made your life better because of your goal setting, haven’t you?
Once you set a goal and begin on the path towards it, you are already a winner.
Even if you have to delay it. Even if you can never get to the end goal. You have still gained by progressing towards it.“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.” - Zig ZiglarClick To Tweet
For the vast majority of goals, as long as you had a SMART goal to start with, and worked towards it for a bit, you will have achieved something worthwhile.
“Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” - Henry FordClick To Tweet
If you can not reach your current goals, reevaluate them. Do you still really want to reach them? If so, rethink your strategy for achieving them. You have not failed until you decide to give up.
And if you do decide to give up, then you didn’t really want the goals all that much, did you?
Make new goals, better goals.“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success” - Arianna HuffingtonClick To Tweet
At the bottom of this page, I have included links to a couple of books that I personally own and have used to help me come up with my own system of goal setting. These are books I very much recommend reading, they are very inspiring as well as informative.
The first is “Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible” by Brian Tracey. Despite the rather clickbaity sounding title, this is a great read. It outlines how to set SMART goals and gives lots of examples of how they work.
The other is “Goal Setting: The Ultimate Guide To Achieving Goals That Truly Excite You” by Thibaut Meurisse. This book has a slightly expanded approach to SMART goals, with additional helpful criteria. There is a lot of information on the psychology of goal setting, so if you would like to know more about how and why it works, this is a very interesting read.
Whilst I can not, of course, guarantee that setting SMART goals will work for you, I am confident that they can help improve the business of most craft sellers who actively try them.
I know that my own business has definitely benefited from SMART goals, as has my personal life.
Remember that they are YOUR goals. You can amend them, you can change the time frames, you can postpone, adjust and even abandon them if you want.
If you really want to achieve a goal, apply the simple SMART criteria to it, and then break it into manageable pieces, and keep going, you have a very good chance of getting there.
Goal setting is a technique for time management. For lots more techniques, tools and tips on how to get more from your precious time, check out episode 18, Time Management for Craft Sellers.
Good luck with your goal setting, and here’s to achieving all your goals!
In the next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, episode 15 I will be talking A Shop Audit for Craft Sellers. This episode will be out on the 30 October 2018.
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Check out www.TinTeddy.com for more Craft Seller resources.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy. Featuring Deborah Richardson Original music by Matthew French
I am using Goal Setting again to build a standalone WordPress-based shop – find out more in episode 20, Building a Standalone Craft Shop with WordPress and Wocommerce.
These links lead to the mentioned goal setting books on Amazon.com (top) and Amazon.co.uk (bottom). If you purchase from these links then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way. This is at no extra cost to yourself. Thank you.
Both books are available in paperback, Kindle and Audible versions.