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 March a profitable and productive month!
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“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.
You should already have a sales goal you’d like to hit for the year. If you don’t, set that goal now, subtract your earnings from January & February and distribute the remaining amount between 10 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 and you made $2500 in January/February, you’d divide $12,500 by 10 to have a goal of $1250 each month. But you may know March is a slow month, April is busy and May falls in between. So you might set your sales goal to $800 for March, make up that $450 in April with a $1700 goal and $1250 for May.
*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:
What did you hope to earn in February?
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 March goal to stay on track for your yearly goal. Or that $200 may be distributed evenly among the next 10 months, adding $18 onto each month’s goal.
If St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that generates a lot of sales for your business, “St. Patrick’s Day sales” might be your focus.
If March 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 March.
Look at March 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 – St. Patrick’s Day marketing
Week 2 – St. Patrick’s Day & related craft show
Week 3 – Update online shops & social media to April theme
Week 4 – Run promotion to clear out St. Patrick’s Day stock
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).
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 April without a plan for Easter, Earth Day or any other events relevant to your business. In March, we want to start prepping for April, planning for May and looking at June.
List important events, holidays, deadlines, etc. for April, May & June.
To help stay organized, I’ve found it helpful to look at business in three main areas:
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:
To ensure I’m not just focusing on tasks that need my immediate attention, I like to break tasks into:
Take a look at the sales channel(s) you use and read my suggestions for tasks you could work on in March when it comes to planning, preparing and presenting: creating tasks, marketing tasks and selling tasks.
Look ahead to May and June and start thinking about new products you may want to introduce based on holidays or shopping events. For example, Mother’s and Father’s Day-themed products.
Begin creating stock for April so it’s ready for orders next month. Purchase materials at the beginning of the month and begin production. Easter or spring product should be your focus.
Tagging and packaging St. Patrick’s Day themed products and other March stock so it’s ready to be shipped.
Prototypes for April 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 March or beginning of April.
If you have Easter related products, work on those near the beginning of March so you’re prepared to upload photos by the third week of March. Easter Sunday is on April 1st so you must be prepared well before April hits.
Start planning your marketing for May, based on the marketing channels and methods you currently use.
Plan newsletter schedule and topics. If you send a weekly newsletter and have products that make great Mother’s Day gifts, plan to send a Mother’s Day related newsletter the first and second week of May.
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’re hoping to appear in a magazine, you should be looking at issues for August forward.
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 marketing for April. If you’re running ads, prepare the text and images so they’re ready to go. Mother’s Day or spring related content.
Do you need to prepare images or text for social media marketing? For any social media platforms that allow you to schedule posts in advance, do so.
Do you need to draft blog posts? A few blog post ideas to plan for April may be:
If you rely on press for marketing, start drafting press releases for July issues so it’s ready to be sent in April.
You should be marketing your St. Patrick’s Day or Spring-themed products by posting St. Patrick’s Day or Spring related social media posts, blog articles, sending newsletters, etc.
Press releases you worked on in February should be sent in March if you hope to appear in a June issue of a magazine, as closing dates are generally end of March.
Look ahead 2 – 3 months and determine what type of online shopping events are coming up. May marks the end of spring and the first day of summer is in June (in the Northern hemisphere). You may also consider:
May – Mother’s Day, start of wedding season, etc.
June – Father’s Day, wedding season is in full-swing, start of summer, etc.
Or search holidays related you may be able to relate to your products. For example:
Plan what it means for your shop to implement a summer theme or May/June holiday related theme. Do you need to update your banner, props in your photos, run a promotion?
Photo shoots for April-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 St. Patrick’s Day is over. April photo shoots may incorporate:
Be sure you don’t go overboard with props or themes and keep everything on brand. If your brand is sophisticated, cartoon or stuffed bunnies may not be a good fit. However, a cherry blossom twig or soft blue robin eggs may communicate spring or easter in a more sophisticated manner.
At the beginning of March, your shop should be updated with a St. Patrick’s Day or Spring 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 St. Patrick’s Day, promotions you’re running, listings updated with St. Patrick’s Day images, titles, tags, etc.
After March 17th, 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 St. Patrick’s Day theme.
*Mark March 18th in your calendar to remove St. Patrick’s Day theme from online shop
Start thinking about and researching products for June and beyond events you plan to participate in. Summer-related products and if you’re participating in Farmer’s Markets and outdoor festivals, keep in mind; people likely don’t want to haul big or heavy objects around the market or festival so you may want to stock up on smaller, impulse-buy items.
If you’re participating in April or May craft shows, work on building stock. Easter, Mother’s Day and spring themed items may be your focus.
If you’re participating in March craft shows, stock should be completed. Work on finishing details for that stock: tagging, packaging, pricing and packing into containers for transport.
If you have craft shows in May, plan when and how you’ll market the event to your fans, followers and existing customers.
Promoting the event as a great place to find unique Mother’s Day gifts could be a good marketing angle.
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.
Marketing materials should be prepared this month for any events in April. You’ll need flyers, images to share on social media, newsletter drafts, etc. What is the benefit of someone visiting you at the event? Are they going to find some of the best spring trends?
If you’re participating in March 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.).
Again, be sure to share the benefit (e.g. find that perfect green item to wear on St. Patrick’s Day, be the first to own Spring 2018 trends, etc.).
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.
Farmers’ Markets and summer festivals may be accepting applications so start to plan which ones might be the best fit for you and your products.
If you have events scheduled for April, May or June, you should be working on your display and gathering props, display fixtures, signage, etc.
Consider props and colors that will be a fit for the month or holiday the event is organized around. Soft pastels, spring flowers, Easter, Mother’s Day, etc.
If you’re participating in a March 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.
Retailers typically buy product for their stores 3 – 6 months in advance. You may have started thinking about fall products last month; continue planning them this month as most retailers will be ready to view and order fall products in June (or sooner). Research upcoming trends, start getting an idea of materials you’ll use, etc.
New York Fashion Week (NYFW) (as well as London’s and Milan’s) was in February so there will be lots of photos online of fall 2018 trends.
Depending on the size of retailer you work with (the bigger the retailer, typically, the further in advance they buy), you may be moving into preparing fall prototypes so you’re able to create lookbooks and line sheets.
Summer product prototypes should have been prepared last month, photographed and lookbooks created (depending on your retailer’s schedules). You will likely need to work on building summer stock this month to fill orders that come in from retailers.
Spring product should be completed and ready for shipping.
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?
Depending on the retailers you work with, you may set up appointments (with local ones) to stop by with a lookbook, line sheets and samples.
Mark dates in your calendar to follow up with retailers after you’ve had your initial contact (after they’ve received your lookbook in the mail or after your meeting).
If the retailers you work with, or would like to work with, don’t work quite as far in advance, hold off on this step and schedule appointments and follow ups to fit their schedule.
Your summer lookbook and line sheets should be completed this month and included with any shipments of spring product to retailers.
Mail lookbooks and line sheets to any new retailers you hope to get your product into or follow up with existing retailers you work with, who are not receiving spring shipments.
Look ahead 3 – 6 months as that’s generally the schedule retailers follow (smaller retailers and boutiques may not buy quite as far in advance). In March, most retailers are buying summer product so you should be planning the retailers you would like to work with in fall 2018 and how you would like to expand the retail side of your business in 3 – 6 months.
If you’ve sold spring products to retailers, you’ll need to prepare 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 February with net 30 terms, January with net 60 terms, or December with net 90 terms.
Each retailer will specify when they want orders shipped but generally, spring product orders should be filled and shipped last month and this month.
There you have it, that’s a mock business plan for a handmade business in March.
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.
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