This post begins what I expect will be a new ongoing series in which we'll be offering up bite-sized ideas and reflections on what we've learned over the years in running a small craft business. My hope is that more people will be inspired to develop a craft for themselves and ultimately run their own business. So let's get to it!
Building a business is not a process of days and weeks, but of months and years. By learning to exercise patience early on, you'll be less likely to be upset by the ups and downs which you will inevitably encounter. It can be easy to think that by taking singular and significant actions (whatever those happen to be) that we'll instantly feel the effect on our business. Sometimes this is the case.
Much more often though, the outcomes of our businesses are determined as the sum of a thousand decisions. This may be reflected in what products we make, how we make them, how they're priced, how we interact with our customers, how easy to navigate and use our websites are, or any number of other factors. By practicing patience and not expecting fast results, we position ourselves to not be ruled by the outcomes of these singular decisions.
Conversely, when we get fixated on those singular decisions and outcomes, we can be deceived into thinking things are going poorly, or even that they're going better than they really are. We might become averse to risk or on the other hand risk too much, and all for the sake of a narrative we're telling ourselves about a decision we made and the outcome we perceived. In this case, patience is sobriety. It contextualizes our decisions in such a way that provides us with useful perspective. It also allows us to make decisions based on a desired trajectory for our business as a whole, and not in a reactionary sort of way (something I've been guilty of...just ask Steff).
To give a real example, our website has been a slow evolution over the years. I wish I had a screenshot, but our first website was a skeumorphic mess built on top of a Wordpress template. Each product listing was manually created with links to PayPal and we didn't even have a shopping cart feature to buy multiple items at once.
Over time however, we changed things. We switched to better platforms (presently on Squarespace), we learned to shoot better product photos, we made aesthetic and usability adjustments to the site and so on. The net effect is a fairly respectable site I'd say. Is it the best thing out there? No, not at all. I've seen nicer looking sites from similar shops. Is it exactly what we want it to be? Not yet. We're still working and learning and figuring out exactly what we want Inkleaf and our website to be. One thing that I am confident about though is that 1,000 decisions from now, things will have improved for the better, and that's why patience is worth the wait.