Being a business owner is extremely stressful and for us handmade business owners, we have to balance marketing, operations, designing products and fulfilling orders.
That’s A LOT of work. Let’s be real.
We might feel so bogged down by the weight of it all, that we feel like we’ve lost control over any of it.
I’m going to tell you how you can get that control back – and learn how to overcome, and handle the overwhelm.
Hi guys! I’m Mei Pak. I help makers, artists, and designers make a living selling their handmade products online.
I’m a handmade business owner myself, and I run multiple businesses, so I have firsthand experience with the challenges and rewards of choosing to follow our passions.
Doing it All
So how do you handle EVERYTHING all at once?!
Well, simply put, you don’t.
It’s just not possible for one person to handle all of this all alone.
How can we be expected to
- make our products
- take professional quality photos
- build our websites
- handle our marketing
- handle our social media
- handle our customer service
- mail out orders
- and pay our bills
Are you drowning yet? I know I am.
I see this happening most often with social media.
If you’re a new business owner, you feel pressure to be on all the gazillion platforms.
Everyone’s always comparing social media following numbers and engagement levels.
It can make you feel that you’re doing something wrong when you’re not growing your followers fast enough.
Listen, the problem is we’re trying to do too many things at once.
When you’re spread too thin, you’re a hamster on a wheel – constantly moving and feeling like you’re progressing, but you’re not actually getting anywhere.
Do you ever feel that way?
If you really want your business to be successful, you have to accept that you just can’t do it all.
Focus Your Attention
Trust me when I say that having focused, deep work is much better than being a jack of all trades and a master of none.
I didn’t one day start all three of my businesses at once.
I started one and made it really good.
Once it could stand on its own two feet without my constant managing it, then I started another and turned my focus on a second business.
When I tackled social media, I focused on growing one platform at a time.
I would dedicate an entire year to each one so I could learn everything I could about the platform, and give it consistent effort.
It’s counterintuitive, but you will grow faster if you pick one thing and get really good at it, instead of attempting to do all the things at once.
Focus is critical to success.
Focus on One. Thing. At. A. Time.
I can hear you multitaskers cringing through the computer – but I’m serious!
I’m a multitasker too so I get it.
But when we channel our focus into one thing at a time, that thing is done so much better.
Think about it this way, if we’re trying to mail our products while we take photos of them for the website, the photos are probably going to come out blurry and unprofessional.
Not to mention that cardboard boxes and packing tape don’t make for the best product backgrounds.
At the same time, we might end up mixing up addresses or failing to send everything right away.
What if you only focused on shipping when it was time for shipping?
You’d probably get everything mailed a lot quicker, and with a lot less mistakes.
This is what we do.
Instead of shipping all day every day, we dedicate only two days of the week to focus on shipping.
That clears up the other days for us to focus on other parts of the business, like making products or doing marketing.
You’ll gain efficiencies of scale that way too, and you’ll work a lot faster when you’re focused.
I think of focus like digging for gold.
You can only find the gold deep in the earth, so it doesn’t help to dig shallow holes everywhere.
You’ve gotta pick one spot, and dig deep until you hit the goldmine.
Focus is one key to success.
While focus itself is important, the next question is what are you focusing on.
Be careful not to spend hours of your day creating social media posts or obsessing over gaining new followers, when you could be researching people to send email pitches to.
Another thing that’s related to what we talked about is letting go of perfectionism.
This happens to the best of us so don’t feel bad.
It can sometimes manifest in paralysis where you can’t even start doing anything because you’re overwhelmed with a humongous to-do list.
Or you start to overthink all the details before they even happen.
I say, just jump in with both feet and do the deed, and you can cross the bridge when you get there.
This can also manifest in being too hard on yourself and expecting to have ALL your ducks in a row before something else can happen.
The next time you feel overwhelmed with all the apps and software you need to connect into your business or all the tasks on your to-do list, start by categorizing those tasks into milestones.
What really needs to get done now?
The idea of this exercise is to help you strip away things that really aren’t a priority right now.
And aim for being just good enough.
For example, you may only have 3 product photos for each design and you’d love to get some fancier lifestyle photos to add into each listing.
But when you ask yourself if it’s really necessary right now, the answer is no.
It’s nice to have, but you already have other photos that are good enough.
You can save that lifestyle photoshoot for a later date when you’ve got less on your plate.
Another rule that every business owner should follow is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle.
The 80/20 rule states that 80% of consequences result from 20% of causes.
You want to pinpoint the cause that is the most productive, because it leads to the best results (or consequences).
What this means is, you need to prioritize the 20% of work that will bring you 80% of the results.
Examine your workload and think about what tasks are the most important.
What tasks tend to bring in the most results for your business?
When you find out what they are, prioritize them.
Do more of what works.
There’s no need to waste time on menial tasks that bring little to the table at the end of the day.
With that said, it’s also vital to get rid of time wasters and low ROI activities.
Again, if you find that you’re spending hours creating content for social media, you’re wasting time.
Social media posts, while important, won’t drive most of the traffic to your site anyway, or make up for the bulk of your sales.
So, don’t spend too much time on social media when you could be prioritizing work that drives results.
I don’t want you to be embarrassed by busy work that you find yourself doing.
We’ve all been in situations where busy work is just more appealing or we aren’t confident or energized enough to focus on the rest.
But, I do want you to be conscious of when you’re doing busy work -and take note of how much time you spend doing it.
This is time that you could be spending doing something more impactful for your business.
I’ll give you two separate examples of a business owner.
Person A, spends most of their days wondering how to grow their Instagram following.
- spending hours a day capturing the perfect photo
- writing the perfect caption
- and responding or leaving comments
Person B, spends most of their days on Google, researching stores that would be a good fit to sell their products in.
Then they send out personalized email pitches to each store.
Of the two people, who do you think is going to get more social media followers, and who will get more actual sales?
I think you get the picture.
Hiring a Team
NEVER be afraid to ask for help.
Hire help as soon as you are able to.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – delegating is a huge part of running a business.
When we have other people who can prioritize tasks that we just don’t have time for, we get to focus on the work that really matters.
No more days spent trying to make, photograph, and ship a product – all while doing marketing.
There is nothing wrong with hiring help or asking for help.
We can’t put everything on ourselves.
Our business will suffer because of it.
Asking for help is actually a sign of a successful business.
It doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong.
And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
I have a hiring help video that you can watch for more information on how to hire your team.
I truly would not be able to do all that I can do in my day if it weren’t for the 30 people that I employ.
What’s one aspect of running a business that’s overwhelmed you the most?
Let me know in the comment section below.
And don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for more great handmade business tips and tricks!