The 3 M's of Running a Business: Making, Marketing, and Maintaining
Running a business, no matter the size, is extremely time-consuming. One way to help manage your valuable time is by balancing and prioritizing a cycle of what I have come to call "The 3 M’s of Running a Business". Each "M" requires an equal amount of time and effort for a business to run well, and each "M" is dependent on the others.
For many creative people, making things to share with others is likely what inspired them to begin a business selling their wares in the first place. It is incredibly fun to create something that never existed before, or to capture something through art that has meaning. And that first sale can be very satisfying.
But you don't necessarily have to make your own products; there are plenty of companies like Avon, Premier Designs, and PartyLite that make their own products for sellers. Whichever method you prefer, know that without new items or different items from time to time, potential buyers will become bored and lose interest in your business. Once a perspective customer is lost, it is really hard to convince them to come back.
Don't be discouraged, think of it as a challenge to see what else you can come up with but remember the old adage of quality over quantity. If you are with a company who rarely seems to introduce new items or designs, you might consider the pros and cons of moving along to a more dynamic and interesting one.
As much fun as creative people have with making things, marketing those items can be the bane of their existence. Let's be honest, we creatives would prefer to simply post a photo on Facebook or Twitter and have the "likes" and gushing comments roll in along with an auction you never had to initiate: (Fan 1) "I want to buy your photo for $50!" (Fan 2) "No, I'll buy it for $75!!" (Fan 3 to Fan 2) "I'll see your $75 and raise you $25!!!"
Ah, fantasies! Because the sad truth is that as awesome as your art may be, it is in stiff competition with all the other awesome art out there. And if you've ever done a search online for art like yours (which you should, by the way), it can be a real depressing eye-opener. But take heart, not all artists will be as marketing-savvy as you.
Marketing is the art (pun intended) of letting people know that your product or service is available, and doing it in such a way that potential customers feel in control, informed, and not harassed. You want to connect with current customers and future ones to advertise your abilities or wares, but you don't have to be everywhere all at once (See my previous post: Adventures in Social Media Land). There are a zillion ways to advertise but keep in mind: Quality, over quantity.
This could be summed up in three words: Have a plan. Maintaining means to keep on keeping on, but you need a business plan to remind you from time to time what you want from this business, why this business is important to you, and what your limits are. Maintaining is the behind-the-scenes stuff of commenting in a friendly, genuine manner on other blogs or sites, staying active on social media like Etsy, Pinterest, and Facebook by sincerely liking posts, items, etc. and sharing the occasional, appropriate comment (not spamming). Maintaining includes passing out well-designed business cards, making sure your website and/or social media pages are current in information and perhaps style (but don't change too often or you will confuse and lose people), and the part in which you focus on customer service and a good business image.
May the Circle Be Unbroken
As you proceed in your business, keep in mind the three "M's" of making products, marketing those new products and your business, and maintaining a good image. Be sure to dedicate an equal amount of time and effort to each "M", and remember that they work in tandem with each other, like a cycle system. Thanks for reading and may your business ventures be successful!
*Do you have any tips to add? What are some ways you have found to balance the "M's" in your business?