For the last two years, I’ve hesitated to set intentional and thoughtful goals for my business. I had broad visions of what I’d like to see happen each year: more sales, new designs, connecting with my customers – but they were vague, and too broad to measure against at the end of the year. Honestly, I thought that goal setting was just another buzz word people used to talk about their business growth. Another way to compare ourselves – another way to boast that we were successful. I’ve learned in the last few months that intentional goal setting is really a way to stay focused, to be more efficient, and to help narrow our vision when you’re devoting time to growing your business.
So this year, I’m being intentional with my goal setting. These were all written down, in one form or another, during December. After my time at Creative at Heart, I decided to modify them slightly, and add actionable steps for each.
1. Optimize Etsy & Launch Ecommerce
This is something I feel very strongly about. I think Etsy is an amazing platform for small business owners, and I think I can do a better job of making my shop ‘work’ better than it does now. I also want to be able to offer direct checkout through my own website – something I’ll share more in a separate post.
• Revise listing copy, titles, tags and add-ons. I want customers to not have any questions when they’re checking out about what they’re buying, and what happens next.
• Optimize my photos for each listing. Using stock photography has been a huge blessing for my shop, but what I realized this year is customers don’t want to see a styled desktop on my Etsy homepage. They want to SEE the invitation.
• Migrate my site & blog to a new platform, and add an ecommerce option. I want customers to feel like they can checkout directly on my site, or shop on Etsy – whichever they prefer.
2. Connect with Customers
I want to feel more connected with my customers – new and old – in the coming year. I want to share more about myself, the struggles of growing a business, and about the heart of my brand.
• Set a consistent blogging schedule. Planning posts each month, and being realistic about the time I have to devote to blogging are important steps in making blogging part of my routine.
• Deploy monthly newsletters. I love getting newsletters from other small business owners – highlighting new products, things we’ve been working on, blog posts I may have missed, and of course, sharing exclusive sales & promotions. I want my customers to receive these from me, on a regular basis.
3. Expand My Offerings
A crucial part of growing a business is to always be learning. I want to challenge myself to invest in learning two new skills/programs this year to help grow my product base and services that I can offer my clients.
• Launch a wedding collection, including save the dates, invitations, day-of paper goods and thank you notes. Establish a pricing guide to share with potential brides & grooms that answers questions about paper types, quantities, and the wedding suite design process.
• Practice hand lettering. I’ve always had a fascination with the art of calligraphy and hand lettering. I’ve taken several classes, but need to invest more time in practicing. I hope to offer hand-lettering services on my printed pieces later this year.
• Illustrations & Graphics. Illustrator is a weakness of mine – I don’t know the program well, and always find a work around. I want to learn more about vector graphics, and how I can start creating these on my own, rather than relying on purchasing them from other sellers.
• Brand Development. I feel passionate about adding this service to my business this year, and am excited about working with other small business owners on developing & executing their brand.
4. Organize & Streamline
Last year, I felt like I was always 10 steps behind. Part of this was my failure to set realistic and intentional goals for the year, but more importantly, failing to choose the items I felt were important to my growth.
• Yearly / Monthly / Weekly goal setting. Keeping my tasks realistic and attainable.
• Finances. Separate our personal and business finances, establish a monthly day where I can categorize expenses, file receipts and evaluate the budget.
• Shipping. I spend way too much on shipping, and need to find some new and creative ways to lower my costs for each package.
• Creating a Production Schedule. This was SO helpful to me before last holiday season, and I want to develop it to be reflective of the whole year. This means planning for the holiday card rush beginning in September, so that come November, I’m not rushing to get my listings up and photographs taken
• Clean up Email. This needs no explanation. At some point this year I’d like to have my inbox at 0 at the end of every day.
This lists seems sooooo long. And I know that all of it may not happen, and that’s OK. Something that’s come a little more naturally to me this last year is keeping things in perspective and giving myself a little grace. I don’t beat myself up anymore. I’m a mom, I work full-time, I volunteer on the Board for A’s school, and I want to look back on every year and remember watching my kids grow and laugh and learn. Of course, I also want to grow my business, but keeping that in perspective with the rest of priorities has helped me define success in a better, more rewarding way.
I hope to share monthly updates on this list to keep myself accountable, and also to help you all see a little of what happens behind the scenes with Bella Carta Boutique. This business is a big part of my heart, and I think there is such joy in the building of a business. It’s important to share both your successes and failures, and remind your customers, and cheerleaders, and family and friends, that there is so much more to this than pretty paper and Instagram pictures and the number of orders. The heart of my business is in the not-so-pretty, 1:00 in the morning, running on 2 cups of coffee designs and taping up packages with Otto at my side… and I’m excited to share that journey with you.