It's nearly Christmas and there's a light at the end of the holiday-rush tunnel for most of us indie business owners. How are we all feeling? Dealing with holiday stress well? Or feeling a bit crazed, depleted, burned out, perhaps never wanting to pick up the tools of our craft ever again?
There's no getting around the fact that this will always be a busy time for indie business owners, and we'll always be dealing with holiday stress in one form or another. But looking back on this holiday season, I already can see some ways that I can make next year's crunch time run just a little more smoothly:
If your busy season was filled with scenes like this, as mine was, you probably are feeling the effects of
holiday-season craziness! Photo of the DIY Trunk Show courtesy of Organic Headshots (www.organicheadshots.com)
I will start my holiday prep even earlier. Last year, I completely failed at estimating how much product I'd need to stock my online store, my consignment venues, and my booths at fairs. I pulled many late nights leading up to the holidays and spent entire weekends in what I lovingly refer to as "show prep jail." This year, I resolved that wouldn't happen again, and I started cranking out holiday merchandise in August.
Great plan, right? Except I also sell Halloween-themed products, which means my busy season actually starts in September. So rather than making Christmas items, I was swamped keeping spookier creations in stock until, oh, Oct. 31 or so. Gold star for effort, but next year I'm starting even earlier. You may even catch me replenishing my ornaments stock in January!
I will not fail to eat and sleep. Yes, I know every "dealing with holiday stress as an indie business owner" article out there talks about the importance of self-care, and we all laugh and say we can't possibly cram that into our schedules. But, many of us are one-person operations, and if we collapse into a flu-ridden heap due to poor self-care, who's going to serve customers, make products, or run our online store? Next year I'm going to block out basic physical needs such as "mealtime" and "sleep" on my calendar if that's what it takes for me to fit those tasks in.
I will keep better track of craft fair information. Not only dates, times, and places, but important details such as booth size and whether the show's providing a table. Take it from me: frantically sifting through your email the night before a show to figure out whether you need to bring a table is not good when you're already dealing with holiday stress!
Also, since I often jury into different shows with different product lines, I will keep track of what products I submit on each application. My most embarrassing moment of the season came when I could NOT recall whether I'd juried into one show with only my Christmas ornaments, only my jewelry, or a little of both. I'd submitted the application months beforehand, via a form on the show's website, so I had no way of seeing it again. Trust me, that is NOT an email that you want to send to show organizers who think you're a professional indie business owner! Next year, I'm going to make myself a spreadsheet of all the shows I apply to — and make sure I add a note-to-self reminder of what I've promised to bring if accepted.
I will resist "one-more-thing-itis." This term, which I picked up from a fellow crafter, refers to that dread disease we all catch the night before an event, a website launch, or our online holiday sale. It deludes us into believing we can, and in fact should, crank out "just one more" handmade product. While this does result in having a slightly fuller table or online store, it also results in us feeling glazed-over, sleep-deprived and less able to serve our customers well. (And in my experience, that "one more thing" never sells for a while anyway.)
I will order at least twice as much printer ink, packaging, bubble wrap, business cards, and tape as I think I need — well before the holidays. Also, if I introduce a new product that is larger and heavier than the items I usually sell, I will work out a shipping method for it BEFORE I start selling lots of them. That way I will never again be caught trying to ship orders that will not quite fit in the mailers I have on hand, necessitating a late-night run to whatever store's open at that hour in hopes they'll have the right size of box.
What lessons have you learned from dealing with holiday stress this season?