Crickets to Cha-Chings Episode 010
How to Handle Feeling Discouraged when Building a Business
Hey there and welcome back to another episode of Crickets to Cha-Chings. My name is Lauren and I'm so glad to have you join in on this episode.
Today we are going to talk all about what to do and how to deal with it if you start to feel discouraged when you're building your Etsy shop.
I think that in any sort of business, and especially as a business owner and entrepreneur, there are ebbs and flows of how excited you are about your business and how invigorated you are by the whole process of building it.
And in those ebbing parts where maybe you are not quite so enthusiastic about it or you start to feel like the progress is not coming fast enough and you're not getting to where you want to be as quickly as you wish that you could, it gets to be really discouraging.
And then I think that a lot of times what happens as you start to feel discouraged by your situation and your shop is that you start to have all of these self-doubts - what if I'm just totally wasting all of my time, what if nobody wants to buy my products because they're actually terrible, what if I'm going to spend all this money developing products and inventory and trying to make this Etsy shop thing work and then it's going to end up just being something that I stop doing because I'm never going to be successful at it.
That negative self talk can then be even more discouraging so it kind of ends up being the cycle where you're discouraged, and then you have all these negative thoughts that come rushing into your head and start to tell you that you can't do this and it's never going to happen for you, and then you get even more discouraged and then you just want to give up.
So what do you do when that starts to happen or when you fall into that rut or cycle of feeling discouraged and like maybe this just isn’t going to be something that happens for you?
I really and truly believe, that the people who are successful at online business whether it's on Etsy or as a blogger or as an influencer or whatever are the people who stick with it.
There are so many people who pop up with a business idea or a business inspiration, and they get really enthusiastic about it and they work on it for a week or a month or a couple of months, and then it doesn't take off right away and they're not an overnight sensation and they give up.
It's really easy to be enthusiastic and really jump right in head-first when you’re just getting started.
I think especially as an entrepreneur and a creative, we see these opportunities in front of us and we think “oh my gosh I can totally do that” but then when the real work comes in and you have to really get to the grind to learn about how to be successful and then to work on it a little bit every single day and work on things that you don't necessarily like to do, it becomes a lot more difficult to stick with it.
I feel that way about product photography. I don't like to work on photography and it's something that I struggled with as I built my shop because I wanted to procrastinate it and I wanted to figure out a way of getting around it, because I didn't and still don’t enjoy it.
And what I’ve found is that when we hit those points that we're working on things that really aren't fun and they're not the part of the business that make your creative wheels spin or that are particularly enjoyable for you, it gets really easy to start thinking that maybe this is not what you want to do.
I mean, after all, if you wanted a job that you didn’t particularly like, you could go out and get a desk job and feel that way.
So here are a few tips that I have for you if you start to feel discouraged about your Etsy shop and where you're at in your journey of being an entrepreneur and building this income that you're wanting for yourself.
The first recommendation that I would have is to find a community of etsy sellers or online entrepreneurs that you like and that you can join with and link arms with to have a sense of community online that understands the type of business that you're in and understands the struggles that you're going through.
One thing that I found as I have built my shop and worked by myself for the past 6 years, is that it is often times kind of lonely.
I worked and I still work by myself in my basement monogramming things over and over and over again and it's very monotonous, which I don't really mind because I am an introvert, but as the business was growing and in the times that I was not having the success that I was really wanting or it was sort of still hovering in that weird in-between of “I have some sales but it's not really a real consistent income or even really a part-time income yet,” it was lonely for me because I felt like nobody really understood that I really wanted to make this a business and really make it work. It wasn't just a hobby or a “ little side gig” for me, but people in my real, everyday life didn’t necessarily see that same vision that I had for the business.
I felt along the way a lot of times and honestly I still feel this way at times, that people would know that I had an Etsy shop and give me sort of this patronizing pat on the head “oh that’s nice that you have a cute little something to keep you busy.”
They didn’t, and still don’t, understand what I wanted the shop to become, and they didn’t see that I was working really, really hard. And that’s fine, because it isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to validate my work for me, but it does help to have people who understand your goals, and who you don’t have to explain things to at times. Just having other people who are in the same boat of trying to make this a job and have a consistent income goes a long way in feeling supported and validated.
So to linking arms with other Etsy sellers who are going through the same thing and working at the same tasks that you're working on can be helpful for you, because you have people that you can bounce ideas off of, but it also can be really nice for you just mentally to be able to have a support system outside of maybe the people in your real everyday life who either don't understand exactly what you're doing or what you're trying to do, or they're not super supportive about it.
I'm going to put a little plug in here for my Facebook group which I love and I think is the nicest group up at the entrepreneurs on all the internet. It is called Etsy Roadmap by Lauren Keplinger and you can find it on Facebook by searching for that go to www.creativemomboss.com/etsyroadmap.
We have a little over five hundred members who are just super supportive and all different stages of building their Etsy shops and are a great cheerleading squad when you're feeling discouraged and to answer questions if you have questions to ask. And I also pop in there almost daily to answer questions and give feedback if people are looking for my input.
Moving on to our next item in the list of things you can do when you’re feeling discouraged. The second thing that I think you should think about if you are struggling with your Etsy shop or struggling with your own mental roadblock surrounding building your Etsy shop, is to get offline.
There have definitely been times in my business where I have to make a conscious decision to step away from the computer and into my real life in order to recharge my batteries and feel more inspired for the creative aspects of my business.
I’ve talked about before in previous episodes that I am not what I would really consider to be a super creative person, so there are times that having a creative business that requires my artistic input frequently can be kind of draining for me.
There are also times where the responsibility of it all and the overwhelm can be very daunting, and I have to allow myself to unplug and step back to actually interact in my life outside of the computer.
I’ve found that as an entrepreneur and an online business owner, it can be hard to “put it all down” and take time to relax.
It can also be hard to be patient, because you feel like if you just work and work and work some more, success will happen faster.
While I think there are definite ways to make your business on Etsy successful faster than trying to figure everything out yourself, sometimes things do take a little bit of time. It is unlikely that even with the best guidance, you will put together an Etsy shop this weekend and have sales pouring in next week.
Stepping away from the computer to recharge allows you to come back at it refreshed, to remember why you are doing this to begin with and why this success is a priority for you, and to be able to approach things with fresh eyes.
The next thing I would recommend if you are feeling discouraged is to listen to some success stories that can inspire you and offer you some new ideas or a new perspective on where to go next. I really like the Shopify Masters podcast, and well as “How I Built This” for entrepreneur inspiration stories.
I think that hearing other people's’ success can help you to feel like it really is possible for you - maybe not a multimillion dollar business, or being on Shark Tank, although who knows what could happen!?
But being successful, having a level of success that is comfortable in your life, having working hours that fit around your family time, and a consistent income that pays your bills really can be possible - and hearing other people’s stories can be inspiring as you envision yourself walking that same path to the ultimate destination of success.
Another part of hearing other people’s business stories that can be helpful is hearing about the trials and ups and downs along the way.
NO ONE, not one single entrepreneur has a story that flows in a totally straight line from starting the business to massive success. There are always, always, ALWAYS, ups and downs, and hearing about those ups and downs can make you feel less alone, particularly if you’re in a down point.
The last thing I would tell you to do if you are feeling very discouraged is to step away from the business aspect of your business and enjoy it for what it once was for a minute - a hobby, a craft, or an artistic expression.
Make something for yourself or your kids or your mom. Make a teacher gift or something for your best friend. Just take a second to enjoy what you’re making and enjoy the creative side of it without being focused on selling the piece or taking pictures and getting the listing written up.
When I was first starting my Etsy shop, I made a LOT of things for my children. At this point I don’t honestly make too much for my kids because I spend such a huge amount of time sewing already just to fill the orders that I have, but early on when I had slow sales or when things weren’t really progressing as quickly as I hoped, I would take some time and make something for my kids.
My son has jon-jons and bodysuits and shirts and all kinds of stuff that I made him just to have that creative outlet - to step back for a minute and see the creative as just the creative - not a means to a business or an income (although of COURSE I wanted it to be that too) but just something that I enjoyed doing, and to make something that I was proud of when it was complete.
I think it is really important to remember that creative side of why you got started in the first place and what brought you to the craft that you are selling, and not get so wrapped up in making it a business that you forget why you even liked to make these items in the first place.
Or you put so much pressure on yourself to be as successful as you can be as quickly as possible that you end up not enjoying any part of the process and feeling totally defeated as you build your business.
As I said before, I truly and completely believe that the people that are successful in business are the ones that stick with it long enough to get past that early point of discouragement and slow growth, so don’t get so focused on the end result that you end up resenting the process in the meantime.
Celebrate each little win the comes with your shop - each sale that you get, each positive review, each item favorite and shop favorite, and year over year increase in traffic percentage that you see on your Etsy dashboard. It is ALL a part of having a successful shop.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. If you are wanting to join the Etsy Roadmap community on Facebook, I’d love to have you. The website to join that is www.creativemomboss.com/etsyroadmap which will forward you straight to that Facebook group.
It is so helpful to have a supportive community that you can bounce ideas off of, who cheer you on in your successes and offer advice in your not-so-successes, and who are working and grinding through this process the same way that you are. I hope you’ll come on over and join us!
That’s all for today. I’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now!