February 5, 2018

Handmade Business Checklist & Planner for February

One of my goals this year is to be more organized when it comes to running my business. And I’d like to help you do the same. Let’s make February a profitable and productive month!

 

“Organization” may not be at the top of everyone’s goal list by I’m sure “making money” is.

 

In order to make money and run a profitable business…you must be organized.

 

Let’s stop treating our businesses like a hobby and flying by the seat of our pants.

 

Instead, let’s take a hard look at our numbers, what we need to make in revenue and profit to be able to call our operations a successful business and determine what it will take to get there this month.

 

This is a general guide for a handmade business BUT it absolutely requires your expertise.

 

Depending on the type of business you run, the products you make and the schedule you follow, you may be able to use all of the ideas mentioned here, some or none of them.

 

No one (myself included) can give you be-all and end-all advice to run your business. Use articles like this to inspire and guide you but apply your expertise and knowledge to make the ideas work for you.

 

Here's what a handmade business owner should be working on in February. This article comes with a free printable checklist and planner for the month.

 

Please sign up for my newsletter (if you’re not already on it) to download the free printable February Planner worksheets.

 

 

GOALS & PLANS

You should already have a sales goal you’d like to hit for the year. If you don’t, set that goal now and roughly distribute it between the 12 months, giving a higher goal for busy months and a lower goal for slower months.

 

For example, if you’d like to earn $15,000 for the year, you’d divide that by 12 to have a goal of $1250 each month. But you may sell jewelry and know January is a slow month, February is busy and March falls in between. So you might set your sales goal to $800 for January, make up that $450 in February with a $1700 goal and $1250 for March.

 

*Be sure you’re mindful of revenue vs. profit when setting goals. If you’ve priced your products following the popular formula: materials + time = costs x 2 = wholesale price x 2 = retail price, your profits will be 75% of your revenue.

 

Meaning, if you sell $1250 revenue, you profit $937.50. If you want $1250 profit, you must sell $1667 in revenue.

 

 

Use the printable worksheets to:

 

1) Write down your sales goal for January

 What did you hope to earn in January?

2) Write down what your actual sales were for January

Did you hit your goal? Exceed it? Come in under? Adjust your future goals accordingly.

 

For example, if you were $200 under your goal, you may tack that $200 on to your February goal to stay on track for your yearly goal. Or that $200 may be distributed evenly among the next 11 months, adding $18 onto each month’s goal.

 

3) Write down your sales goal for February

 

4) Write down your main focus for February

If Valentine’s Day is a holiday that generates a lot of sales for your business, “Valentine’s Day sales” might be your focus.

 

If February is a slow month for you because you sell summer products, planning and prepping summer product lines may be your focus this month.

 

List one or two areas of business that will get your main focus in February.

 

5) Write down your focus for each week in February

Look at February by week 1, 2, 3 and 4. What are the important tasks, events, dates, etc. of each week?

 

You don’t need to get into details, simply write the big events for each week. For example:

 

Week 1 – Valentine’s Day marketing

Week 2 – Valentine’s Day & craft show

Week 3 – Update online shops & social media to March theme

Week 4 – Run promotion to clear out Valentine’s Day stock

 

 

6) Write down important to-do’s for February

List any important tasks that must be completed this month.

 

Again, don’t get into details, simply jot down anything you must remember (e.g. application deadline for Mother’s Day craft show).

 

 

7) Write down important dates for March, April & May

Look at least 3 months ahead to see what’s coming up and what impacts your plan and prepare tasks.

 

You don’t want to go into March without a plan for St. Patrick’s Day, the first day of spring or any other events relevant to your business. In February, we want to start looking at May, planning for April and prepping for March.

 

List important events, holidays, deadlines, etc. for March, April and May.

 

 

BUSINESS STAGES

To help stay organized, I’ve found it helpful to look at business in three main areas:

  • Create
  • Market
  • Sell

 

First you must create a product, then you must market that product so people are aware of it and then you must sell that product.

 

Each area (create, market & sell) requires your attention each month. The tasks that fall under each area will depend on the sales channel(s) you use. Here I’ll cover the main channels for handmade businesses:

  • Online (e.g. your website or Etsy shop)
  • Events (e.g. craft shows, farmers’ markets, etc.)
  • Retail (e.g. selling wholesale to shops & boutiques)

 

To ensure I’m not just focusing on tasks that need my immediate attention, I like to break tasks into:

  • Plan – looking 3+ months in advance, these are tasks that require thought, but not a lot of action just yet. For example, in February, I may start thinking about products I’d like to launch for summer. That may involve, roughly outlining how many collections I’d like, color schemes, etc.
  • Prepare – looking 1+ month(s) in advance, these are tasks that must be completed for next month. Working on them now ensures I’m prepared and staying ahead of schedule. For example, in February, I would work on preparing stock for an Easter or Mother’s Day craft show.
  • Present – looking at the current month, these are tasks that must be completed this month. For example, in February, I would present my Valentine’s Day themed products at a Valentine’s Day craft show.

 

Take a look at the sales channel(s) you use and read my suggestions for tasks you could work on in February when it comes to planning, preparing and presenting: creating tasks, marketing tasks and selling tasks.

 

 

 

ONLINE

CREATE

Plan

Look ahead to April and May and start thinking about new products you may want to introduce based on holidays or shopping events. For example, Easter or Mother’s Day-themed products.

 

Prepare

Begin creating stock for March so it’s ready for orders next month. Purchase materials at the beginning of the month and begin production.

 

Present

Tagging and packaging Valentine’s Day themed products and February stock so it’s ready to be shipped.

 

Prototypes for March products should be completed so they can be photographed and photos can be uploaded and edited in time to update your shop at the end of February or beginning of March.

 

 

MARKET

Plan

Start planning your marketing for April, based on the marketing channels and methods you currently use.

 

For example, plan your newsletter schedule and topics. Look ahead several months if you plan to send press releases. Magazines operate similar to retailers; several months in advance.

 

Download the media kits of magazines you’d love to be featured in and get an idea of when deadlines are for advertising. Although you’re hoping to be featured, not advertise, it gives you an idea of when they hope to have an issue of a magazine drafted.

 

If you need help in the marketing department and ideas on marketing channels and methods, check out HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.

 

Prepare

Prepare marketing for March. If you’re running ads, prepare the text and images so they’re ready to go.

 

For any social media platforms that allow you to schedule posts in advance, do so.

 

Do you need to prepare any images or text for social media marketing? Do you need to draft blog posts?

 

If you rely on press for marketing, start drafting press releases for June issues so it’s ready to be sent in March.

 

Present

You should be marketing your Valentine’s Day products by posting Valentine’s Day related social media posts, blog articles, sending newsletters, etc.

 

Press releases should be sent if you hope to appear in a May issue of a magazine, as closing dates are generally end of February.

 

 

SELL

Plan

Look ahead 2 – 3 months and determine what type of online shopping events are coming up. April and May are spring months (in the Northern hemisphere) and your business may want to promote a spring theme in the shop. You may also consider:

 

April – Easter, April fool’s, etc.

May – Mother’s Day, start of wedding season, etc.

 

Or search holidays related to your products. For example,

 

April 11 is National Pet Day – good for pet related businesses

April 22 is Earth Day – important for environmentally friendly products/businesses

 

Plan what it means for your shop to implement a spring theme or holiday. Do you need to update your banner, props in your photos, run a promotion?

 

Prepare

Photo shoots for March-themed products should be scheduled in this month. Photos should be edited and uploaded so you’re ready to create listings and update your banner once Valentine’s Day is over.

 

Present

At the beginning of February, your shop should be updated with a Valentine’s Day theme, if it’s a fit for your products and business. The banner or home page image can get a refresh, shop announcements may be updated with order deadlines to receive shipments in time for Valentine’s Day, promotions you’re running, listings updated with Valentine’s Day images, titles, tags, etc.

 

After February 14th, Valentine’s Day products should be cleared out so your online shop doesn’t look outdated. You may run a promotion and mark down stock or simply update photos and listings to turn products back to no theme, instead of Valentine’s-day themed.

  

 

EVENTS

CREATE

Plan

Start thinking about and researching products for May events or even summer ones you plan to participate in.

 

Prepare

If you’re participating in March or April craft shows, work on building stock.

 

Present

If you’re participating in February craft shows, stock should be completed. Work on finishing details for that stock: tagging, packaging, pricing and packing into containers for transport.

 

 

MARKET

Plan

If you have craft shows in April, plan when and how you’ll market the event to your fans, followers and existing customers.

 

You may roughly mark the week marketing will begin through social media, newsletters, etc. plan when to start sending mailers or handing out flyers, etc.

 

Prepare

Marketing materials should be prepared this month for any events in March. You’ll need flyers, images to share on social media, newsletter drafts, etc.

 

Present

If you’re participating in February craft shows, your marketing can begin now. Start posting to social media, encouraging people to mark the date in their calendar and post reminders in the days leading up to the event.

 

Mailers to existing (local) customers should be sent and flyers for the event should be handed out.

 

A newsletter should be sent this month, the week of the event, to encourage local customers to show up. Give them an incentive to shop with you at the event, instead of online (e.g. special discount if they print a coupon you share, new products available at the event only, etc.).

 

 

SELL

Plan

Look ahead at least 1 – 3 months to be aware of upcoming events you’d like to participate in and mark the application deadlines in your calendar. It’s also never too early to start thinking about how you might create an attractive display. Event organizers love to hear you’re putting thought into it.

 

Prepare

If you have events scheduled for March, April or May, you should be working on your display and gathering props, display fixtures, signage, etc.

 

Present

If you’re participating in a February craft show, you’ll be setting up your display and selling on those allotted days. Be sure all display props are gathered and ready to go. You should also have your sales pitches determined (if selling doesn’t come naturally to you).

 

If you need help when it comes to researching, applying, preparing and selling at craft shows, check out MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS.

 

 

RETAIL

CREATE

Plan

Begin brainstorming fall product lines as retailers buy 3 – 6 months in advance. Research upcoming trends, start getting an idea of materials you’ll use, etc.

 

Prepare

Start working on summer product lines; buying materials, creating prototypes, pricing, etc. so product is ready to be photographed and lookbooks and line sheets can be created by the end of the month.

 

Present

Each retailer will specify when they want orders shipped but generally, spring product orders should be filled and shipped this month.

 

 

MARKET

Plan

Start thinking about how you will market your fall product line to retailers and which retailers you will market to. What will be the theme of your lookbook? What type of photoshoots will you need to plan for it?

 

Prepare

Summer lookbooks and line sheets should be prepared by the end of February so they’re ready to be sent out beginning of March.

 

Present

Generally, spring product is arriving at retailers, so you can use this opportunity to market your summer line. You likely won’t have prototypes, lookbooks, line sheets, etc. prepared but consider including a postcard that reminds retailers your summer line is coming up and to keep an eye out for your lookbook in a month or two.

 

 

SELL

Plan

Look ahead 3 – 6 months as that’s generally the schedule retailers follow. In February, most retailers start to shop for summer product. So when it comes to planning, you should be thinking about fall already.

 

Most handmade businesses will be working with smaller retailers and boutiques, who tend not to buy stock quite as far in advance as big retailers, but this is still a good month to start thinking about fall, the retailers you would like your products in and how you would like to expand the retail side of your business in 3 – 6 months.

 

Prepare

Gather names, emails, mailing addresses, etc. of retailers you want to pitch your summer products to.

 

Present

If you’ve sold spring products to retailers, you’re likely shipping orders to retailers this month, which means you’ll need to prepare and send invoices based on the terms you agreed to.

 

Some retailers will want to pay net 30, 60 or 90, meaning they pay their invoice 30, 60 or 90 days after they receive your product. If you sell wholesale with these terms, you’ll need to invoice retailers you sent product to in January with net 30 terms, December with net 60 terms, or November with net 90 terms.

 

 

 

There you have it, that’s a mock business plan for a handmade business in February.

 

As mentioned, be sure you’re not blindly following the plan and you’re adjusting it to fit your business.

 

This article does not cover any operational tasks, such as paying bills, filing taxes, answering emails, etc. Please be sure to mark any important operational tasks in your calendar as well.

 

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to download the free printable February Planner worksheets.

 

 

What are your goals for February? Please share in the comment section!

 





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Comments

2 thoughts on “Handmade Business Checklist & Planner for February”

  1. I’m hoping to use a little of everything outlined in the article. I’m working on building my inventory on Etsy. Start looking at event fairs to enter as well as thinking about upcoming holidays.
    A very helpful article, thanks.

  2. How do I get the checklists and planner? The link is in the newsletter but I don’t understand how to open the lists?

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