Tag Archives: right brain business plan

Catching Up – and my lessons

Between moving the website, writing my business plan, re-installing my website, and various other necessary evils like sleep I feel that I haven’t had a chance to sit and write a proper post for weeks!  (That would be my overly dramatic side showing through again.)  So many little things have happened that I would normally share with you that I thought it was time for a catching up post!

First of all I hope that you all had a peaceful holiday period.  I certainly did!  The chicks were off visiting their grandparents with their father and I had this quiet, clean (except for my mess) house where I didn’t have to be responsible for anything or anyone except the animals and myself.  It was just what I needed after the turmoil of the weeks/months/year before Christmas and just what my health needed.  I didn’t do any sewing until about the 4th of January!  Then I made this bag which was a custom order left over from last year.  I love the colours that she chose!  I also made myself a new cushion cover, given that all my sewing recently has been for other people.  I love this fabric!

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I did however set up a new sewing room.  I have commandeered the spare room that had been occupied by the eldest chick earlier in the year, and then by the au pair, and then my mother when she came to our rescue.  Although it would be nice to give the chicks a room of their own each, I have decided that I need to start putting myself first a little more (one of my recent learnings) and that most of us survived sharing a room with our siblings until we left home, so the two chicks who are sharing a room will be just fine!  I have a little tweaking to go with the set up, but so far am really enjoying the space.  It also has the best light in the house – especially in winter when it becomes a sun trap.

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I also spent a few days focussed on working on my business plan.  You know – the one I started back in July and then kept meaning to work on?  I am still not finished, but I do now have a clear vision of what I want to achieve with my making and selling, and how I need to think about overheads and pricing.  The Right Brain business course that I did encourages you to make collages to capture things like your competition, perfect customer, brand values, etc.  I enjoyed that much more than I thought I would!  It also helped when I was writing an application for a Handmade Market – I just had to turn my pictures into words!  Another good lesson learnt!

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Part of the planning process is looking at your money.   Hmmmm…..at worst depressing and at best thought provoking.  That process prompted me to also look at setting up accounting software etc….. but after a day or so of trying to do that I realised that I am not ready for any of that.  My buying, making and selling can be accommodated in a simple excel spreadsheet.  When I become a mega-industrial mogul with warehouse sites etc maybe I will need to use the software products I was exploring but until then keeping it simple is just perfect!  Phew – one less thing to worry about, and another lesson to add to my list.

One of the ideas that I have been playing with for a long time and that I am putting into action soon, involves developing some graphics that are precise (like pattern pieces for example).  So I downloaded a trial copy of Adobe Illustrator and did some tutorials to see what I could do.  Many, many hours/days later I finally came to the realisation that I am not a graphic designer and that I need to outsource that to someone who is!  The upside of all of those hours?  I now understand what is needed to give really good instructions to the graphic designer!  Yep – another useful lesson!

In the midst of all of this I realised that I wanted to move the site to be self hosted.  In hindsight I could have taken a different approach to that and made it easier on myself, but after learning all sorts of new jargon and processes it seems to be up and running!

I also did a bit of assessing my stock.  I took an inventory of my fabric (boy was that hard – trying not to get distracted by pieces I had forgotten I had!), and of my bits and bobs – zips, slide buckles, etc.  A bit of time on Ebay saw most of that addressed, so the parcel man has been a regular at the front door and will be for another week or so!

All of that really did take up a lot of time and headspace!  I was a hermit for most of the holiday period, with the exception of a lovely dinner with friends on Boxing Day, and visits from Ms C, one of my dear friends who also helps me to brainstorm and problem solve.  I was feeling great and thinking that perhaps I didn’t need to be on leave for long while recovering from all the events of last year.  I got a bit cocky, forgot that I have limitations on what I can and can’t do, and organised a bit of socialising.  I caught up with the MIML, and a couple of really good friends, and that turned into eating three meals out in one day.  Mmmm…fun but very, very foolish.  A good reminder that I can’t run around like I used to, and need to pace myself and do only one thing at a time.  Really.  Timely really, as the chicks are returning this week and I need to be able to look after them properly, on my own.  So my mantra is two edged.  Keep it simple.  One thing at a time.  Wish me luck!

All of this means that my sewing, despite my very best of intentions, has been slow.  However the small bits that I have done have also helped me to look at my processes, assess them and think of ways to refine them.  Two more purchases have resulted.  (And probably the last for a while given that there is a lot of spending going on and not a lot of making/selling!).  The first is a photographic light cube tent – a white polyester box that pops up and is used to take product shots with even light etc.  After having my professional shots done I realised that my own photography is very inconsistent, so this is the first step towards addressing that, and reducing the time spent trying to get it right!  (I just keep learning don’t I?)

The second investment?  A steam press.  One of those gadgets that irons your clothes/fabric etc between two surfaces.  I am hoping that it will dramatically cut the time I spend attaching fusible interfacing and fleece!

Oh – and a third purchase as a result of a request by a friend to make up a particular product for her (that I will share if it works) is a cast iron press for attaching plastic snaps to fabric.  The potential for replacing hook and loop was enough to make me think that it is a good long term investment!

Now that the bank balance is so drastically reduced it is probably time for me to simply knuckle down and get back to the stuff that I actually love – sewing!

Oh – I had another lesson during this time.  It is VERY difficult to give chickens oral medicine.  The ridiculous antics that I got up to in trying to achieve this were worthy of a comedy sketch, but completely hopeless at actually treating my poor chooks who have been infested with lice.  However today the vet set me up with syringes with needles to inject them and that took seconds to administer, required no antics, ridiculous or otherwise, and will hopefully see them healthy and well again very soon.

I also had to break it to the boy that his favourite climbing tree is a little less than it was following a big storm.  Think we will be off to the garden waste place with a trailer this weekend!

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You might have seen that I have started a newsletter subscription thingy.  My plan is a monthly newsletter with links, tips, some giveaways, etc.  I am gathering together all my ideas for the first one, so do sign up so that you can enjoy the things I am finding for you!

Now it is time to go and sew.  I hope that your week is going well and that any lessons you are learning are positive, affirming ones!

Inspiration and Quirkiness

So much to report this weekend!! I have spent the last two days having lightbulbs pop in my mind – such a buzz!

The Right Brain Creative Business planning course, facilitated by Mikaela Danvers from Canberra Creatives was an incredible experience. I highly recommend participating in one of these courses if you are a creative type and want to map out a plan to build, establish or develop a business. Those of us there had goals ranging from having a first sale online to building a business with a 6 figure turnover. We came from quite diverse business endeavours and yet found so many links between our visions! (I now know who to go to in order to have a logo designed, stationery designed, children’s parties catered for, items upcycled, jewellery individually designed, photographs taken, and my overall health coached!!)

There were some amazing activities throughout the day that had my brain popping with ideas, then refining them, examining them, brainstorming with the group and filtering out the gems. Just the suggestions from the group alone have given me practical ideas for streamlining my processes, outsourcing other parts, and planning new ‘lines’. I have started to build the visual depiction of the vision that I have formed through this process but it is very much a work in progress at this point. The first part of it is here – in my first ever Instagram post! (Another product of the encouragement of my fellow workshoppers!) (If you want to follow me on Instagram then you will find me at #alittlebirdmademe !!)

I have some activities that I have assigned myself for the next couple of weeks, and will be accountable to the group, so will share my progress with you as I go (without too much boring detail!) I have to do a lot of research into my market, my competitors, my aspirational point, etc. So much fun to be had!

The other lovely part of this is that I have been able to share my excitement/vision/buzz with friends and family over the last day and they have added to my knowledge banks. One with a suggestion for a new product (that is so logical I can’t believe I never thought of it!!), another with some added material and mantras to include (such a great inner circle advisor!) and my parents with wonderful encouragement to just keep playing with the ideas and enjoying the journey. One of the biggest benefits in this process, and some other activities over the last week, has been a journey of self-discovery and self-affirmation. Being reminded of my strengths, my unique values and what makes me stand out from the crowd has been a joyous journey.

One of my discoveries that I am adopting as an affirmation is that being ‘quirky’ is a compliment. Standing out for being ‘different’ is a gift, not a burden to be carried, in this case. I am happily embracing my quirkiness and celebrating my differences – these are the things that will help me stand out from others in identifying my perfect customer and my marketing strategies.

Phew! After all the brainstorming and excitement of yesterday, followed by dinner, lunch and then afternoon tea with friends to allow for de-briefing, no sewing occurred. And that is okay. However I do have a photo of a bag I finished a few days ago to share with you. This one, and the Dr Who bag are both in the shop now.

Now to start the work week, do my homework from the course, start on my action plan, fit in a bit of sewing and then drive down to the farm (6 hours away) to collect the chicks and bring them back. Feeling so invigorated and inspired and happily quirky, the week is sure to be great! I hope that your week is full of inspiration and is appropriately quirky.

‘Right brain thinking’ preparation

Ah…..the weekend is here! This week seems to have flown by in some respects, and dawdled in others! But on a Friday night, slipping into comfortable clothes, listening to my music without complaints from the children about my singing (heathens that they are) and contemplating which of my collected links I will share with you, I have to say that I do love weekends! Two days of ‘free’ time spreading out before me! Ah the joy!

Before I start on my collection for tonight I thought I would share with you my preparation for the Right Brain business planning course that I am doing tomorrow. (The details are in the link so I am just going to share my thoughts on it here rather than try to explain it!!) I needed to ask some people who I trust for three words that describe me, and three words that describe my ‘business’. So I duly sent off an email to a small selection of my trusted friends and family. (And recognised how lucky I am that the list is so long that I had choices to make!) The answers have been intriguing to read. None have been confronting, but some have provoked thought, which is a great start to creating a plan!

I am also meant to be gathering visual aids to help me visualise what I want to do with my business. Hmmmm….. I keep seeing a lot of white in my minds eye for this one. Not so much ‘nothing’ as a lot of clean and empty surfaces. So I started to chat to friends and colleagues, and slowly over the course of the day I have started to add some colour to the white. I don’t have the actual images yet but by the time I get to the course I think I will have some good ideas to add to my visual aids.

I have started to do the ‘dreaming’ part of visualising… you know – what if I could do anything I want? What would my business look like? That part is fun – imagining colours, people, products, spaces, marketing……

As tomorrow and the start of the course draws nearer I am getting a bit excited. A whole day to dedicate to thinking about me and my business. What luxury! (I have also been practising saying ‘my business’ so that I start to think of it this way instead of just ‘my sewing’!!)

Other things that have spurred on my excitement over the last 24 hours have included one of my bags featuring on the front page of Etsy, and one of my treasuries featuring!  (Oh – and I worked out how to take screen shots!)

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While writing this I have decided to break with my usual convention, and will add my Friday night finds in a separate post, so that this one can just be my musings at the end of the week and on the brink of a new adventure.

This means that I can share with you that I finished a couple of the bags that I started earlier in the week. I haven’t taken the ‘shop’ photos with great daylight yet (the perils of working in an office during winter – dark in the morning and dark at night!) but if you will forgive the use of flash, here are some images of the Dr Who bag completed!

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I can also share that the chicks are having a ball on their grandparent’s farm. Yesterday they went up to the snow and went tobogganing. They have been fishing, playing in the mud, helping with the animals, and generally having a great time. The middle chick has conceived a plan to build an incubator to hatch some duck eggs from her aunt’s farm. I think I have dissuaded her for now (given that we don’t live on a farm and already have 5 chickens!) but I love her enthusiasm and the fact that she had researched how to do it before calling to ask me. The eldest chick has called a lot, just to check in and say hi. So grown up and so gorgeous. The boy has been very busy and reluctant to stop his activities to talk on the phone, but when he does he asks “How have you been Mum?”. Just delightful from a 6 year old! I do miss them, but know that I need this time.

For those of you who read my post a few weeks ago about questioning my judgement as a parent I can share that the professionals agreed with me that that particular diagnosis didn’t fit my chick. The paediatrician then suggested that we explore another diagnosis and the school and I again completed screening questionnaires. This time round we were both on the same page. So it appears that we are getting closer to have answers about how to support my chick. Any sort of medical diagnosis that will affect your child for the rest of their life is a bit confronting. I, and my ex-husband, are focussing on the fact that we now know what the issue is, and what the treatment/strategy/plan will look like. And hopefully by identifying it so early in a young life we will be able to build strategies to get through life better than a later diagnosis. There are silver linings. And of course, I get to breathe a sigh of relief that I do have decent judgement when it comes to my children!

Have a great weekend! I hope that you get some time to yourself, to focus on you and what you want to plan in your life, whatever it might be!