Posted on

Getting the balance right – running a business from your phone

I’ve recently had a painful, but insightful experience. I fell down the stairs and my phone bore the brunt of it (luckily I wasn’t hurt). But this meant, I had to send it off to be mended (for a lot of money) and I was left for four whole days with no phone. No instant access to email, no access to my Etsy or Amazon seller apps, or my website. No instant access to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. And no camera to snap product pics and life pics. Each time I wanted to check anything, I had to log into the laptop, and if you’ve ever used Instagram on a laptop, you will know, it just isn’t worth bothering. Not to mention the annoyance of no one being able to call me either.

Balance

Anyhow, this experience got me thinking about my phone usage. Getting the balance right is a tricky business. If you are running a business from your phone, modern life dictate that customers want instant responses, and an active presence on social media is essential. And so, I do use my phone quite a lot. But sitting there with your nose stuck in your phone 24/7 is also no good. Firstly, for actually producing your products; and secondly for the rest of life –  family, hobbies, partners, friends etc. They are not going to be impressed if you are constantly on your phone.

Phone-free time

I realised from my four days phone-free that I love my phone and everything it provides me in terms of speed and ease of running my business, as well as camera quality, keeping in touch with people, looking things up on google, tracking my fitness, etc. Conversely though, I did partially enjoy being without it. I had more time for other things and gave me a feeling of freedom. I enjoyed just watching tv and not scrolling through my phone at the same time. However, I just couldn’t quite shake the feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) on orders, conversations, news etc. etc.

Getting it right

So is it really possible to get the balance right? I think that it is. In reality, the length of time it takes to reply isn’t going to make or break a sale, I don’t think. People will wait a few hours for a response. Actually it may also be quicker to do all your emails in one go, rather than constantly checking them throughout the day. The same probably applies to social media too. Less of the mindless scrolling and more intentional interactions.

A few hours a day phone free is definitely recommended anyway and I plan on trying harder to organise my time on my phone better. Less procrastinating, and more productivity. Saying all that, though, it’s so easy to fall back into the same old routine…

Posted on

5 tips to starting a handmade business, going back to work, and enjoying family life, without having a breakdown!

Not possible, I hear you say! You’ll burn yourself out! It won’t work! You’re burning the candle at both ends!

Fire-related clichés aside, I received much concern when I suddenly announced I was going back to work. It was a shock to me too. I had committed to making Gem’s Concrete Gems work and was excited (still am) by this new chapter of my life, away from the 9 to 5, being able to be at home for my boys and crafting in between times.

All that changed when my old job begged me to come back with an offer I couldn’t really refuse. Everyone knows that setting up a craft business takes time and money, neither of which I had stacks of, and so here I am. I am still convinced this is only until I get the concrete business up and running.

And while I’m fully aware that this is going to be a test of my organisational skills, I really believe I can make it work and still have time to spend with the boys. So here are my top tips to help you if you are in the same situation as me, or are wanting to start a craft business on top of a regular job and family commitments.

Tip number 1

Your calendar is your friend.

Plan everything: The meals for the week, when you’ll do the shopping, what you’ll need to get, who needs to be where when, when you will work on your business and when you will have family time.

We get our groceries delivered in the main. I do the shop on a Sunday night and it comes just after lunch on a Wednesday. We also visit the market for fresh fruit and veg on a Saturday morning. It’s probably a bonus that we live minutes from the shops but if you’re organised, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

Scheduling in craft time can be important if you’re the kind of person who procrastinates and doesn’t get around to it. For me at the moment it’s scheduling in time with the ever suffering husband which I need to prioritise, as I’m full of enthusiasm for the business and end up doing bits and bobs for it even when I should be chilling out in front of the TV.

agenda-appointment-business-1020323.jpg

Tip number 2

Do not rush!

Although I really want to succeed in my craft business as soon as possible, it is important not to rush and compromise on quality. Remember, people will choose to buy from you because your craft products are better than any other they have seen. So making sure quality is high on your list is important. Granted, it’s very easy to think in those few spare seconds, ok, I’ll just rush through that bit of decoration, or paint this or that, but this is invariably where mistakes come in.

It doesn’t actually matter and no one will notice whether you are posting to Instagram every day or not, or whether you are pinning the recommended 10 pins a day or not. All that it means is that your followers will grow more slowly and your business will grow more slowly.

BUT this is not necessarily a bad thing!

This will give you the chance to learn from mistakes, to perfect your products, to practice your photography and amend your SEO. So that at a certain point in the not-too-distant future, you will suddenly look up and find that you are a success. This is what I hope will happen for me anyway!!

Tip number 3

Do a course!

I know you can find everything you could possibly need or want to know, and lots that you don’t want, online, but finding the right information will take time. Lots of time! And time is something that is in short supply. So I really recommend taking a course. Not a super expensive one or anything! There are lots to choose from. This is what I’m doing at the moment and I really hope it will help me kick start my business so that I start making some serious money in time for Christmas, and avoid many of the pitfalls that other craft businesses fall into.

Tip number 4

Accept help!

I am really lucky that my husband doesn’t work long hours and is around to help out with the housework and looking after our boys. We’re also lucky to have both sets of parents close by who help out with childcare when I’m at work. This means that we do not have to spend a fortune on nursery which is great. It also means I occasionally get time to do my business stuff when I’ve finished work but before everyone else gets home, which is a massive bonus. Without them, none of this would be possible, but that’s not to say it’s not possible if you do not have this option.

So if you have people who are offering to help out, accept it gratefully, although I would say, be wary not to overuse people, otherwise you are likely to end up in a worse place than before.

Tip number 5

Enjoy it!

You only live once, and if this is what you really want to do, enjoy it! Enjoy the journey and not just the destination! Enjoy the making and enjoy the  mayhem! I know this is much easier said than done and juggling life can be super hard work, however it’s important to have this in the back of your mind because otherwise things can seem very overwhelming.

Just remember that it doesn’t matter if your schedule slips or you take some extra time out with the family. Your craft business will wait for you! I’m going through a stage of very little sleep at the moment due to a smaller member of the family, and so this makes everything else seem much harder. I sit at work feeling like I could fall asleep on my desk. But as soon as I get home and have half an hour spare, I get the rush of excitement again as ideas and inspiration for my craft business comes pouring in! This is what proves to me that Gem’s Concrete Gems is what I want to do with my life long term, and that it is so worth pursuing and persevering with! Don’t give up!

blur-chair-cheerful-160739.jpg