Improve Your Business with This Simple Tool

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what gets tracked, improves.

If you have to write down everything you spend your money on every day, you’re going to be a lot more conscious and careful with your finances. By the same logic, if you have to journal every single calorie or piece of food you put in your mouth, you just must start eating a little bit healthier.

It sounds like it’s too simple and easy to be true, but keeping track can be really motivating.

What gets measured, gets worked on.

What gets consistently worked on, get better (or gets done!)

There is one caveat, however. This principal does have its limitations.

It can only work with so many things.

Imagine if you tried keeping track of every little thing going on in your business and life, from how many tweets you send out daily, to how many steps you take during your lunch-hour walks. You’d end up spending too much time keeping score and not enough time actually doing the work.

The solution is simple. You only get to pick a few goals, honing in on the big important ones, preferably, and keep track of those.

Taking inspiration from Gino Wickman’s business book, Traction, I made up a simple scorecard that you can download for free here. It prints 4 to a page, so simply cut the page into quarter sizes, and you have 4 portable scorecards that you can carry around with you everywhere!

Weekly Goal Tracker Scorecard

Keeping track is simple. Just write your main priority goals in the left column and where you want them to be at by the time you get to the right column of the score card. In the first week column fill in last weeks dates in the top top box (for example, (7/5 – 7/11) and the numbers that occurred by the end of that week according to the goal. Then, as each week passes, input your numbers for that week. To keep yourself even more motivated, you can also add your percentage of growth (or decline) from week to week.

Keep this card in your purse, by your computer, or wherever you can easily access it and look at it on a daily or at least weekly basis. It will help you stay on top of the goals you’ve decided on for your next 6 months and beyond, and keep you motivated to reach and go beyond the challenges you’ve set for yourself.

Accountability, even if only to yourself, will help to keep you pressing on.

Did you find this downloadable resource helpful? If so, please share this post with your friends so they can print out their own scorecards too! I see a lot of progress and improvements in our future.

New Animal Glass Taxidermy Eyes Available

Per several customer requests, I have added an array of animal-inspired glass eye cabochons to my current listings of glass eyes for sale.

In case you’ve missed their quiet introduction to the selection, here are a few of the newest members:

Glass Fish Taxidermy Eye - $2.97 each

30mm Glass Fish Eye in Green and Orange

Yellow Snake or Dragon Glass Eyes

16mm Yellow Snake or Dragon Glass Eyes Pair – $3.99 pair

Chameleon Glass Eyes

16mm Pink and Blue Chameleon Glass Eyes – $3.99 pair

Yellow and Purple Snake or Lizard Glass Eye

30mm Yellow and Purple Snake or Lizard Glass Eye – $2.97 each

Brown Glass Horse Eyes

16mm Brown Horse Glass Eyes – $3.99 pair


These handmade and originally designed glass eye cabochons are suitable for use in jewelry making (as I use them in bead embroidery or as pendants for wire wrapping and more), art doll making, taxidermy, sculptures, scrap booking, and beyond. Really, the possibilities are endless!

You can shop all of my glass eyes for sale here. There are lots more new additions I couldn’t fit into a single blog post.

The Halfway Mark – Planning Your Next 6 Months

You’ve made it. You’re halfway through the 2015 year.

How do you feel about it?

Never-mind, don’t answer that.

Unless you’re the rare exception, most of us with businesses and a mountain of to-do’s on our list are feeling just a little behind. Like most of humanity, we’ve overestimated how much we are capable of doing in the amount of time allotted the 24/7 cycle, especially considering that we need to eat, sleep, and sometimes even take showers.

But now is not the time to fret regarding how far we think we should be, but rather to plan ahead to get to where we want to be by the years’ end.

To make this process easier for you, I made you a couple of simple, interactive worksheets.

These may seem overly simplistic, but trust me, if you follow this simple planning process it’s going to make the next 6 months of running your business SO MUCH EASIER.

You ready?

First, you’re going to download and save the 6 Month Planning Calendar to your desktop.


  • In the highlighted fields below each month, type in the things you know that will be happening within each of those months (whether you want them to or not.) This includes the family reunion in August, a week spent at your sister’s in December, the craft show you signed up for in November and so on.
  • Next, type in the major things that you need to work on for your business in their appropriate months in order to just keep things running. I’m thinking of things like following up with your wholesale accounts in July, and setting up your holiday marketing calendar in September.
  • Finally, put in a project or two you may not NEED to complete by the end of the year, but would really, really like to. This could be finishing the first draft of a book you’ve been wanting to write, or completing your spring jewelry collection.

Having your events and “to-do”s for the next 6 months forced onto a single page will (hopefully) keep you from over-booking yourself, and give you a realistic time-table of just when you need to get started on what in order to have a successful holiday season.

Keep this 6 month calendar saved to your desktop where you can open and look at it at the end and start of each new week. Use it to keep yourself on track, and tweak the contents within as necessary.

Next, download the Weekly Planner worksheet. This document you can fill out electronically, or print out to fill out by hand – whichever way helps you process your to-do’s better.

Weekly Planner

  • Fill this sheet out at the end of every week for the upcoming week, and reference it every day during the week you are using it to make sure you are able to keep yourself on track.
  • Assign a main priority to each day (you can of course use identical priorities across multiple days), that way you know whether to work on something when it pops up unexpectedly, or push it to a different day more suited to that day’s assigned priority. This will help you keep your focus and give needed attention to each of your priorities without leaving you feeling scatter-brained.

For example, your Monday priority couple be marketing, which may include tasks such as planning themes for your marketing calendar, writing e-mail campaign drafts, and creating social media graphics to be posted throughout the week. Or maybe on Wednesday your priority could be collection development, where you research, design, and create new products. You get to decide, and, as with the your 6 Month Planner, you get to tweak as you go along.

The combination of planning for the next 6 months and planning on a week-by-week basis will keep you focused on your overall goals, while also allowing you to provide yourself with the weekly baby-steps that will guide you in a much more manageable fashion to achieving those goals.

Good luck with your next 6 months!

Have a friend who you know could use these tips and worksheets? Please share this post with them! Click on any of the social share buttons below to spread the love.

How to Get Your Goods Featured in Blogs

When you sell products online, it makes sense that you want to direct as much relevant traffic to where your goods are sold. So long as the traffic is relevant (meaning it consists of the people most likely to be interested in your stuff), more traffic will generally mean more sales.

While press in general is great for your business, getting press from influential blogs can be particularly beneficial to your business when you are running an e-commerce store. Unlike, say, a newspaper or local magazine article, a reader won’t have to remember to check out your stuff later when he or she gets on a computer. When your product is discovered through a blog, it’s as simple as clicking a link and BAM - he or she is right there at your shopping cart, right at the moment when they’re ready to buy.

Jewelry Featured on Fashion Blog

OOTD: Florals with Megan’s Beaded Designs on Pretty and Polished

Also, although there are many kinds of print media publications, there are vastly even more blogs out there. Out of these countless options you can niche down and approach just the right ones that suit your ideal target market.

Another positive of online blog features is that there is the added bonus of gaining back-links to your website. As you build back-links, your website will start to look more and more important in the eyes of search engines, drawing you even more traffic though their channel the higher you rank.

So how you you get your goods featured on blogs?

First things first: have a clear picture of your target market and what kind of blogs they are going be reading. If they are fashionistas, it makes sense you would target fashion and shopping bloggers. Are they home decorators/domestic goddesses? Then it makes sense to lean toward the DIY and interior design bloggers. Are they members of a particular fandom? Then, obviously, the specific pop-culture referencing blogs are where you need to be headed.

Not sure where to look? Pinterest in a great place to start (many a popular pin clicks through to a popular blog post!) Twitter is also an easy one, with hashtags available (such as #fbloggers) that will take you straight to the tweets of the bloggers themselves, and then there is also the opportunity for you to spy on your so-called “competition” or other sellers who are targeting the same audience as you. Most of them are going to be promoting the blog posts they are featured in, and you can then check out those particular blogs and decide if you too would be a good fit.

Jewelry Fashion Blog Feature

Evil Eye and Arrow on DIMPLEBUG

Once you have a substantial list of blogs you would like to be featured on, start getting the blogger familiar with you. Send him or her tweets complimenting his or her latest post. LEAVE THOUGHTFUL BLOG COMMENTS. Then, following much buttering up, send him or her an e-mail letting him or her know that you would love to work with him or her.

Take note: most bloggers will expect you to send them free product as a means of payment. This is more than fair considering all of the work they are going to put into creating a post for you and promoting you to all of their fans. Some bloggers may require additional compensation (an advertising fee). Agree to this only at your discretion, as there are many blogs out there and it may or may not be worth the cost to get in front of one’s audience.

If the blogger feels that you are a good fit, and you end up getting a feature on his or her blog – yay! But it doesn’t stop there. Share the love by promoting that post on all of your social media channels, on your press page, on your product pages for any of the items that were featured, and make mention of it on your own blog and/or e-mail list. Getting the stamp of approval from a blogger, even not a very well-known blogger, will contribute to establishing trust with your audience and encouraging sales. Plus, if you gave the blogger a unique coupon code for him or her to share with his or her readers of the post, then  the new audience that is being exposed to your work will be even more likely to buy.

Fashion Blog Bracelet

Shadows on Styled by Noosh

Not all blog features will result in immediate sales, but the build up of press will increase trust, familiarity, and back-links to your brand. A slow and steady stream of blog features on relevant blogs will make a difference in your product business. Plus, getting featured on one of your favorite blogs is exciting and fun!


Do you have a favorite blog that features products regularly? Share it in the comments below!

The Simplest Way to Earn Trust

The Simplest Way to Earn Trust

You’ll find plenty of tips for how to earn trust with your audience in the blogoshpere of the “how-run-a-business” realm. And there’s good reason for that. T4rust is imperative, especially with an online business, where we’re asking people to buy something that they can’t see for themselves, let alone pick up and touch to examine with their own eyes and senses. Our potential customers need to be able to trust that our products will be what we say they are, and that you will follow through on your end of the bargain and ship what was requested immediately following payment.

Among the plethora of tips and how-tos, you’ll be told to have good, close-up images (this is good advice), include reviews from previous buyers on your site and in your product descriptions (also good advice) and more.

But there is one, main, simple thing that you must do in order to earn and maintain trust with your audience.


Consistency is why so many people will opt for Starbucks instead of taking a chance on a coffee shop they’ve never been to before.

Consistency is why we buy new books from our favorite authors without even reading the back cover, because we trust it will be just as satisfying as all of the ones we’ve devoured in the past from this same source.

Trust is why we buy concert tickets to the bands we’ve sung along to over and over again through our car stereo’s streaming. We trust they will sound just as good (if not better) than their studio-recorded selves.

Consistency for you means having a strong brand that stretches across all aspects of your business, including all of your marketing and messaging. It means delivering the same quality products in the same way every time a repeat customer places a re-order, or a new customer gives you a first chance.

Consistency means that your audience will come to trust you to deliver what they expect from you, or better.

Consistency doesn’t mean you have to blog every Tuesday and Saturday at 10:00 a.m. It could, but it could also mean that you blog consistently inconsistently.

Consistency doesn’t mean doing only the bare minimum, but it does mean that if you are excellent once you need to be excellent every time thereafter or you will deliver disappointment.

Consistency doesn’t mean you have to be a franchise, but it does mean borrowing the systematizing of franchises and applying it to your business, as a means of ensuring and documenting your processes in order to maintain the consistency you and your customers desire.

An general way to start systematizing your business for consistency is to map out your basic process from the start of customer outreach, to order placement, to product shipment and, finally, customer follow up. Look at all of the touch points that occur between you and your customers, and documents all of the things you can do consistently at each step to create a memorable experience with your business and brand, resulting in lasting trust between you and your customer.

Getting off the Hamster Wheel and Finding Freedom in Your Jewelry Business

What do you think of when I mention the common phrase, “the daily grind”?

Does your mind make a mental GROAN as you think about all of the work you push and shove into every waking hour as you try as hard as you possible can to get your business off the ground?

I get it. The hamster wheel syndrome is an easy place for those of us on the handmade-side of business to get stuck in. It consists of the frantic day-to-day ritual of checking messages, fulfilling orders, frantically creating marketing so that the orders keep coming in (or start coming in), and feeling like we’ve accomplished NOTHING other than the bare minimum to keep things running by the end of the day.

The good news is, running a jewelry business, or any handmade business, doesn’t have to be this way. It only takes a little work on your behind-the-scenes, mainly working on your systems and overall structure, to can set your business up for exponential growth without having to increase your personal work load by exponential (and humanly impossible) amounts.

What to learn more? You can attend the free webinar Tracy Matthews and Robin Kramer of Flourish and Thrive Academy are hosting tomorrow at noon Eastern time by clicking here.

Side note: If you register for the webinar, but can’t make it live, Tracy and Robin are always good about recording it and sending you the link to listen later. So I’d sign up even if you can’t be present during the actual webinar.

There will lots of immediately applicable information on how to run your business form the standpoint of a CVO (Chief Visionary Officer) rather than a grunt – even if you are the one doing all of the work – and how to leverage more bang for time you put into your business.

Free Webinar Training

Tracy and Robin will also be opening the doors for their Multiply Your Profits Course at the end of the webinar. This is the course that will teach you all about systematizing, outsourcing, and legality details of running your business and taking it to the next level. Aka: the level beyond the hamster wheel.

I personally took Multiply Your Profits last year and I can attest to the huge impact it made on my business. I went from spending too much time on unnecessary tasks (such as finding a pair of earring in my unorganized inventory when it sold, to figuring out what to make next without any clear revenue projections), to a more solid business with a working, nearly automatic infrastructure that runs smoothly, even if I want to take a couple weeks off for vacation, or don’t feel like doing any new marketing for awhile.

After taking Multiply Your Profits I was able to confidently set up an accounting system for my business, an inventory system, a production system, a marketing system, a packaging and shipping system, a wholesale and press outreach system, hired my first employee, and learned new ideas for liquidating old inventory to keep my businesses cash flow in the positive.

Interested in learning more? Click here to register for the free webinar today.

Even if you don’t have a jewelry-specific business, I am sure there will be lots of good information to help you learn to leverage your handmade business for better success and more freedom of your own time. See you there!

10 Ways to Procrastinate

Feel like procrastinating instead of doing that thing you know you should probably be working on for your business? Here are 10 of my top tips for accomplishing just that! (Because who wants to accomplish anything worth-while, amiright!?)

10 Ways to Procrastinate

(1)    I think I’m going to prepare myself for this dreaded task by taking a moment to “read up a little bit” on how to do it, at which point I will inevitably get distracted by another article on how to do something else, and then something else, and then, oh, my goodness, there’s just so many articles I have to read! Of course, before I know it, I will have spent 2 hours reading some very helpful and entertaining information on the interwebs, and yet… it won’t do me any good. Because  while I may have learned some pretty cool facts and theories, I wouldn’t have implemented a single thing (including the task I set out trying to accomplish.)

(2)    I’m just going to check my e-mail one more time…

(3)    I feel like I could be missing out on something exciting on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram… better check them again, “real quick” … (I think we ALL know how this ends up!)

(4)    I’m not sure how to start, so I’m just going to do something that feels more productive, like building up my Pinterest boards!

(5)    Man, I’m hungry. I should get myself some food before I take on this big project.

(6)    I’d probably perform better caffeinated. To the coffee shop!

(7)    Hmm, now, where was I? Ah yes. Well. I should probably get the dirty dishes taken care of before I get caught up in such a large task.

(8)    Plus, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and the floors need to be vacuumed, and I don’t even remember the last time I did laundry…

(9)    Alright, back and ready to work! Oh, is that really the time? It’s been awhile since I’ve check e-mail/Facebook/twitter/etc… better do that again real quick…

(10)*Yawn* I’m feeling pretty beat. I guess I’ll just write this project down onto tomorrow’s to-do list. But first I’ll have to read up on how to do it right, as I’m still not 100% on how to start….

 Sound familiar? That’s what I thought. So I figured I ought to also include the following:

 Bonus! 10 ways to get going and get your important projects FINISHED:

(1)    Plan by reverse engineering. This means envisioning what you hope the end result to look like, and jotting down the steps it would take to get there, from the final actions to the beginning steps.

(2)    Break down monstrous, overwhelming tasks into tiny baby steps you can feel better about accomplishing at least something on a daily basis.

(3)    Get started. Even if you don’t feel “ready” – the best way to learn is through action, trial, and error.

(4)    Block off sections of intense “focus time” in your daily schedule to work on your Big Important Projects. That means 1-2 hours of uninterrupted, direct work on your project and your project only.

(5)    Eat. Go to the bathroom. Get your tea or coffee cup filled, THEN sit down to work.

(6)    If you don’t have enough time for an intense focus block, set a stop-watch, and work on your project for 15 minutes. See how much you can get done in such a small time (you might surprise yourself.)

(7)    Do your most important work first thing in the morning. Make e-mail and social media WAIT until later.

(8)    Think of an awesome reward to give yourself when you complete your Big Important Project. A dangling carrot always helps.

(9)    Tell an accountability partner about your Big Important Project, and when you are planning on having it done. Check in with him or her as you progress.

(10)    Remember WHY you are working on this project in the first place. Write your reasons down. Tape them up somewhere you will have to look at them every day.

 And… what are your tips for avoiding the procrastination demon and getting your most important projects done? Share them in the comments below!

How to Get Raving Fans for Your Business

In my last post, I talked about 2 different restaurant experiences I had during a promotional week in my my local city. As you might recall, one was a terrible experience and the other was fantastic.

While I told several people about the bad experience I had with the first restaurant, I also told just as many people (if not more) about the GOOD experience I had with the second one.

I was not motivated to talk about this business because of any sort of reward either. Spreading the word regarding the delicious meal my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed was not because I got any sort of commission, promise of free food, or anything else that directly benefited me.

I just wanted people to know because it’s an AWESOME restaurant.

Like everyone else, I like to share cool things I’ve discovered.

Which brings me to you, and your business.

Is your business awesome?

Let me answer that for you:

Of course it is! That’s why you have a business!

But you YOU really BELIEVE it’s awesome?

(Hint: you should!)

Now if you really, truly believe your business is as awesome as it is, then let me ask you this next question: Why are you so hesitant to talk about it?

The reason is probably because you don’t want to come off as that slick, sleazy salesman who will turn people off by being so promotional all of the time.

However, talking about your business doesn’t necessarily mean being sales-y.

Get Raving Fans for Your Business

This is why it’s so important to consider separating your relationship with your business from owner/maker, into #1 biggest fan.

Take some time to evaluate your business as if you were a frequent consumer of the products you make or services you provide. Isn’t it AWESOME?

Think of all the reasons you keep coming back for more. Consider all of the reasons you love your brand and how it reflects back on you every time you use it or let others in on the secret of its existence.

Don’t you just want to share this great business with the WORLD?

That’s what being a fan of a great product or service means: TELLING ANYONE AND EVERYONE WHO WILL LISTEN ABOUT IT.

If you make and sell wearable product, this means rocking your own goods every time you step out your front door. And when you get those “that’s cute!” compliments, don’t just say “thanks.” Instead, respond with an enthusiastic, “I know right?!? And it goes so perfectly with t-shirts / office apparel / etc.” (Bonus points if you hand out a business card and/or get the person’s contact information.)

Because a raving fan is never hesitant to proclaim his or her love for a new favorite thing.

If you want to make it easier to talk about your business, forget for a moment that you are the owner behind the business. You need to become your own walking, talking, raving fan. Because fandom is contagious, it just needs to start with you.


Even Your Discount Buyers Deserve a Reason to Come Back

Even Your Discount Customers Deserve a Reason to Come Back

Once a year several restaurants in my city participate in what is known as “Restaurant Week.” Essentially, restaurants form all over the city sign up to be on a list of places offering a 3-course meal for the ticket price of $18 or $28.

This is a pretty steep discount for some of the places that sign up, but in exchange they get coverage in the local newspaper that promotes the event, and the chance to lure in several new customers who may not have ever tried them out before.

As a lover of all thing edible – I LOVE Restaurant Week.

(Seriously, I’m already counting down the days until it comes back next year.)

For this last round my husband and I were able to try out 2 different restaurants, both of which we had never been to before.

The first one had good (enough) food, but the service was TERRIBLE.

We gave ourselves what should have been plenty of time to eat before the Broadway show we had tickets to see afterwards, but weren’t counting on having to wait over 30 minutes before our waiter even bothered to take our order.

And then when he brought us our 2nd course entrees, he brought my husband THE WRONG THING.

“Well,” my husband told the waiter, “This isn’t what I ordered, but I don’t have time now so I guess I’ll just eat this.”

No apology. No additional discount. Nothing. This guy didn’t even pretend like he was the least bit sorry for the mix-up.

Granted, we were already discount customers, because of the Restaurant Week special, but STILL.

Treating your customers – even your customers with a coupon- poorly is only going to guarantee that (1) we will never go back, and (2) we will tell everyone we know about our negative experience. I can already name several people who we’ve convinced to never try the place out, based on our story alone.

Which brings me to the second restaurant we tried.

This place, I could seriously eat at every day.

The food was AMAZING. But even better: the service was FANTASTIC.

Even the owner/chef came out to give us his recommendations on which courses to choose, told us the back story of why he and his wife started the restaurant, and gave us an additional discount on a bottle of wine to enjoy with our meal.

You can be sure that I was Facebooking/Instagramming that experience in real time while we were there, and have been recommending the place to everyone we know since.

Often times, to get customers to come back for another purchase or experience with your business, you don’t need to mail them coupons, or offer a referral commission, or pass out punch cards with the promise of a freebie. Really, you only need to offer a great product, and a great experience to go with it.


Business Lessons From The Walking Dead

Business Lessons from the Walking Dead

The hubby and I have been on a major Walking Dead catchup-binge lately, and, as with everything that one experiences in life as an entrepreneur, I cannot help but draw connections from the show that can be applied to the business realm.

It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but a fun concept to play around with nonetheless.

Here are a few business lessons I’ve gleaned from The Walking Dead:

-> Don’t lose your soul.

Maybe it’s not at the same level of magnitude as living in post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies trying to eat your face off, but it’s hard running a business. There will be people who aren’t as trust-worthy as others, but most people are good and have the best intentions. Even when you are starving for the first sale, first profitable month, or desperately want to get a hold of a limited opportunity that many are clamoring for: remember to keep in mind that every action you take will be something that you’ll have to look back on later. You’ll want to feel proud of yourself and how you got your business to where it is, not uneasy about some of the choices you made in order for it to happen.

-> Team up.

In a world filled with the walking dead, and, not to mention, groups of not-so-savory humans, the chances of survival while going it alone are slim to none. The same can be true of running a business. What can be accomplished as an individual can be exponentially increased with a team. This might mean hiring employees, networking with fellow business owners, or outsourcing parts of your work that you aren’t as good at or don’t have as much time for.

Most of us in the handmade-realm begin as solo-preneruers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start setting things up for expansion and reaping the benefits of it now.

-> Create a solid structure.

The characters in The Walking Dead are at constant risk of being infiltrated by zombies from all sides, and at any time of day or night. This makes camping out in the middle of the woods a dangerous risk, and findings secure shelter a top priority. Beyond simply obtaining a place to sleep, they work to build up a solid structure for their community, to move beyond day-to-day survival to that of an increase in their quality of life. A solid structure of where to live, who is in charge, and what the ground rules are keeps everyone in their group safer and more prepared.

If you plan on being in business for the long-haul, that means hunkering down to ensure that there aren’t any cracks or broken windows that the “zombies” can come through. In business this might mean creating a list of e-mail address that you own (not something subject to a single social media site and its passing whims), your own branded website (instead of relying on a third-party marketplace such as Etsy or Ebay), a solid system for how you manage your time, and a high quality product that you can expand on over time.


-> Keep learning.

In order to survive and thrive in a world full of zombies and other dangerous threats, the characters in The Walking Dead have to learn plenty of new self-defense and fighting skills, along with softer skills such as farming, tracking, and teaching.

As artists, many of us just want to work on our craft. It’s why we got into this business in the first place, right? But being in business also means getting accustomed to doing things that we don’t always like. This could include marketing and selling, bookkeeping and accounting, and dealing with outside vendors. While you may eventually be able to outsource a lot of these things, you will still need to come at your business from a CEO-standpoint, and it’s always helpful to learn how to do these things before passing them on, especially when they contribute such a vital part to your business.

What are YOU hoping to learn how to do, or get better at? Tell me in the comments below!