Tuesday, February 17, 2009

:: :: strategies :: ::

in school (high school, college, grad school) i was known for my evenness of temperament (seldom stressed out or running late), my memory (i have a freaky ability to tell you what page something was on and where on the page it was), and my elaborately doodled notebook pages. i was always near the top of my class no matter where my class was, and yet it often appeared to others that i paid little attention in class.

thing is, i always needed to have the right side of my brain occupied. i needed that distraction, oddly enough, to really take in whatever lecture I was hearing. those drawings of houses and tree leaves and page upon page of fancy swirls acted like a net, filtering out the 150 irrelevant words that surrounded the 10 good things my teachers were saying.

the common perception is that running a small etsy business -- or perhaps any small handmade-related business -- doesn't require much strategizing. in fact, i see comments on the etsy forums all the time from sellers who seem to think that success is going to find them. but i'm finding that because my business is small and my income still threadier than a weak pulse, i have to think that much more strategically.

i'm not talking corporate-takeover strategy or anything. i'm talking about thinking how to best use my time and resources. i don't have a lot of money, so i have to spend a lot of time thinking how best to stretch it. and i don't have a lot of time (even less so because i'm spending all that time thinking about stretching my money and oh yeah i have a toddler who needs constant attention) so i have to think strategically about how to get the most out of each hour i do have.

it's hard inventing all of this stuff as i go. every idea i have brings with it a hundred questions: is this feasible? is it worth it? will i be stretching my self too thin? will i be stretching the boundaries of my shop identity too far? will i be able to target my marketing efforts appropriately? to whom does this appeal?

but the funny thing is, i enjoy all this strategizing. i think what i like so much about running my little shop is that it engages both sides of my brain: the right side in all its creative splendor and the left side in all its analytical glory.

as we look forward to buying this house (even though we're getting closer and closer to removing all the hurdles and contingencies, i'm still calling it our maybe house), my left brain is going insane. numbers are crunching, possibilities are being weighed. my shop income -- small as it is -- suddenly seems awfully important. the strategizing part of running a business, too, seems like it could take over the creative part if i'm not careful.

except it really can't. because without any products to sell, there's really no strategizing to do. it's like our cellular membranes and how they just know, somehow, how to keep the levels inside the cells and the levels outside the cells more or less equal (tell me you don't remember learning about the sodium potassium pump... come on now).

it's a pretty cool thing.