Friday, April 22, 2016

Effectively Organized: Shifting Mindsets - Production Mindset

I was just reflecting on the process of turning my hobby business into a real business, that it is as much about shifting mindsets as it is about implementing systems. Christine Kane addresses some major mindset shifts that need to happen in order to become an effective business owner. Here is her short list - but the whole post is worth the read. 

  1. When you were an employee, you had a boss.
  1. When you were an employee, you had deadlines.
  1. When you were an employee, you had to, you know, not wear pajamas to work.
  1. When you were an employee, you didn't have to market.
  1. When you were an employee, people cared about the letters after your name.
  1. When you were an employee, you just walked in and did your thing. Big picture, schmig picture.
  1. When you were an employee, you didn't have to invest in you. The company invested in you.
Silver and Copper Twig Earrings (multiple pairs of a design)
What about you? Have you found a need to shift your mindset as you develop your creative business?

Frankly, I'm not even that far along in my shift from hobby to business. I’m still back in areas like moving from just creating randomly as because I want to and shifting into production mode (i.e. setting up systems to make enough pieces to sell, and being efficient about making larger quantities).

For me, my hobby has been a de-stressor and a way to relax. And this is something that is worth looking at carefully. Often we start a hobby and start creating so much we have to sell it to offload the amount of stuff we have made because we're running out of friends to give things to and to support the stash we've bought into. [Cough, cough - that's been my hobby business so far.] If you want to stay in a small, a hobby business, it is perfectly acceptable. BUT. If you want to turn your hobby into a real business you have to start thinking differently. About pricing. About marketing. About production. About income. About strategy. About production and production efficiencies. About contracts. About taxes. About setting up legally and correctly to run within the parameters of the law. Those are a lot of mindsets to shift and rewire in your brain!

For this post, I'm going to dive into...

Production Mindset

Production Mindset could also be described as "how to make enough product to support myself." In 2012, I started exploring seriously moving my hobby into a real business. I took some advice and started working backwards: I figured out how much income I needed to live and started working backwards to figure out how many pieces of jewelry I would have to make and how much I would have to charge in order to support my life. Even simplifying as much as possible, it was a little... um, shocking... to see how much I would have to make and sell The making part had it's own mental hurdles, but the selling part was even more of a mental block. I realized in a saturated jewelry market, I could only sell so much. I needed to look at expanding my options of what I could sell. (Exploring multiple income streams is a subject for another post.) But, I still like making jewelry and do want this to continue to be an income stream for me.

Fast forward to 2016, tiny little movements forward in the business (like setting things up in the background to run as a real business), but little to no studio time in between. Now, I'm starting up studio time again and I’m finding some odd words creeping up in my vocabulary as I shift into business mode and re-wiring my brain to be a responsible business owner. Things like “dread,” “tied down to my workspace,” “trapped.”

I mentioned these things in my last Master Class coaching call with Lisa Call, and she said I needed to journal about it. Which I have done, but I thought it was worth sharing in a public forum. Perhaps you are a hobby artist who is trying to making a go of your business.

Exploring my mindset and reframing my fears

Regarding being "trapped" at my studio desk - I realized I have total freedom over my work space and can redesign my space to be enjoyable. I may not be able to sit on my couch and make whatever I want whenever I want, but I can still design the space to be efficient and motivating as well as beautiful and inspiring. That's actually something quite wonderful about working for yourself - you have control over your environment that you don't always have in a regular job.

Exploring another aspect of those depressing words, I realized the feelings behind those were fear. Fear of not being good enough, fear of being a disappointment to my customers, fear of not being able to keep up with the schedule and amount of art I needed to make. And the good news is that as I break those fears apart, I realize I can do something about all of that. Starting small lets me make mistakes, and work out the kinks in my business and systems, before I grow. It lets me organize and create systems to make sure I can handle each of those things that may crop up. 

Regarding not being good enough, I can experiment wildly and develop my style and find a style that resonates both with me and with others. Regarding disappointing customers, I can work slower and smaller to make sure I can make my customers happy. I can experiment with custom work to get a feel for working closely with customers. I can develop customer service systems that help maintain a relationship even after a disappointment. 

Regarding the fear of keeping up, well, this is a valid fear, but this is part of the reason I want to keep my business small and grow carefully. I want to figure out what works, what is sustainable for me personally. I want to keep my business simple, sustainable, and manageable as a one-person operation. 

What about you? Are you transforming your hobby into a business? What mindset shifts have you encountered?


  1. I can quite relate to what you were feeling that you have addressed in this article. It's a very relevant post. In this comment space I want to share that I do my jewelry some times in my garden bringing the necessary equipments in a tray when the weather is nice. Some times I do my polymer clay work in the kitchen. i do have a studio and I do my main work there but I do not hesitate to allow me this changes in work environment. I do feel trapped sometimes in my work space . I have started jewelry business from 2009 and sell more in craft shows than on line easy store.

    1. Anindita, thanks for your lovely comment and feedback. I've been wandering around my house and working where it's comfortable as well. It's nice to be able to have control and work where we feel most comfortable, inspired, and efficient.