Planning for 2014

Are you ready for 2014?

If you are like me, then you’ve already determined to make 2014 YOUR year!

Business planning for your small business during peak holiday shopping season can be quite a challenge, but in today’s post, I will share with you my approach which I hope will provide you with guidance on planning for your business in the new year.

Set Goals

What are you going to do differently in your business this year compared to last year?

This will be the first step in helping you to determine your business goals.

Come up with about 5-10 goals and then rank them in order of importance.

Some of my goals include:

  1. Revamp my website / launch e-commerce site
  2. Develop blogging strategy
  3. Integrate blogging and social media efforts
  4. Develop newsletter/marketing campaign
  5. Develop new product launches
  6. Plan 2014 holiday promotions

Breakdown each goal

Break down each goal into smaller tasks.

For example my goal to revamp my website and launch an e-commerce site can be broken down into five smaller tasks as follows:



  • Revamp website / launch e-commerce
  • Design website layout in PowerPoint
  • Determine number of products per page
  • Determine what features of Google Analytics to install
  • How to integrate ETSY shop with new website
  • Research online shopping platform (Shopify, WP plug in, etc.)

Set a Deadline

Decide on a completion date and work backwards to allocate a specific timeline to each goal.

Since my target deadline is the end of January, I will allocate 10 hours/week over the next 6-8 weeks to develop a concise strategy and implementation plan for each goal.

Create a Project Plan

To help keep you on track, create a project plan and checklist in Excel.


On a monthly basis monitor your goals, results and adjust strategies as needed.

I’d love to hear what business goals and strategies you are implementing in your business in 2014?

Share it in the comments below!

Happy planning!!

by: Rekha Krishnamurthi

Figuring Holiday Sale Inventory

2012 Union Square Holiday Market

2012 Union Square Holiday Market

The applications for large holiday fairs come out around this time. Last year Wink and Flip had a booth at the Union Square Holiday Market and what amounted to a holiday season pass at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Williamsburg. Taking on the responsibility of a sizable holiday market can be both terrifying and gratifying.

Big business begins buying inventory for the holidays anytime from now until August. For smaller businesses, such as those that belong to the New York Etsy Team, product is handmade and ramping up for holiday inventory may have already begun. Talking to other designers, it seems the worry about having enough inventory can be a major obstacle to booking big holiday events.

How can you be sure you’ll be able to make all those holiday customers happy? One way to figure the amount of inventory you’ll need for the holidays is to work backwards: Decide – in a dream world – what you would like to make in terms of gross holiday sales. Then look at your best single sales day for 2012: Where was it, what were the conditions? It may very well have occurred during the holidays of the previous year.

Now, work backwards and figure out what that day looked like in terms of product breakdown. In other words, how many pieces of your product (necklaces/sewn animals/candles/soaps) did you sell that day? Then, further break down the day as best you can so you are able to see exactly what comprised the sales in each category within your business. For instance, for a jewelry company, how much of a $2,000 sales day was done in rings, bracelets, and headbands? Divide each of those sales totals into the $2,000 sales figure and you now have a breakdown of percentage of sales for each category. So, you might find that on a $2,000 day, 60% of sales were necklaces ($1200), 20% were bracelets ($400), 10% were rings ($200) and 10% were headbands ($200).

The next step is to choose your sales, apply and cross your fingers that you are admitted. Analyze each show. How many days does it run? Brooklyn Night Bazaar was eight two-day events, or 16 nights. Union Square was about six week, or 42 days.

We took the company’s per day figures and multiplied them by the number of days those markets were held. That would give us a feel for how much inventory we would need. But since not all days are anyone’s most successful day, we would round down, so we didn’t make too much excess inventory. Of course, there is always the problem of not getting into the shows for which you have produced inventory, but most designers running a business at this level will get into some serious holiday shows.

Most people who run handmade businesses are also producing product during the holidays, usually to catch up with sales. But it’s not easy to run and business and produce its inventory at the same time.

While it’s true that we have not yet sunk our teeth into a single cob of 4th of July corn yet, the time for crunching Christmas numbers is upon us. Good luck!



Beat Those Winter Doldrums!

Oh, winter. Business is SLOW and I, for one, am having a hard time fighting the tendency for that to turn me into a big lazy slug. There are so many things to enhance my business that I never have time to do during the rest of the year that I could be using this time to do but I just don't feel like it. This may be because it won't be clear whether doing them is having the desired effect without the regular contact with customers that heavier selling activity brings. Maybe. But that's no excuse. No! Spring will be here before we know it (it really will; I should know this by now)
and I'll be so very annoyed with myself if I haven't knocked at least a few things off my list.

So, going forward, here's what I am going to get off my butt and do. Maybe you have a similar list. If so, get going! Sluggishness be damned!

1. Turn my Gmail list into a real mailing list with Mail Chimp (or some other such email marketing application/provider). I started this project a while ago but got hung up on formatting the addresses. What more satisfying way to spend a quiet winter's eve than curling up on the couch with the laptop and slaying that dragon?

2. Replenish stock, specifically, of paper-mache birds. I never thought I'd see the day but all the members of my longstanding flock have flown away. I actually also started this project a few weeks ago and was pleased to find several bird bodies already well under way. Time to take them out of the oven (where I put them to dry) and get them chirping. 

3. Create new designs. In particular, I've had lots of requests for giraffe and squirrel magnets/pendants. I did take a crack at a giraffe not too long ago. It was just a sketch, but still, it was a start. The squirrel still daunts me, but success begets success (right?) so, if I get that giraffe done the squirrel is sure to follow (I'm not completely convinced of this but I think it's a good, positive idea to carry into the task).

Making this list has been therapeutic. I now have a clear, manageable set of things that I'm confident I can accomplish (my doubts about the squirrel design notwithstanding), and I've discovered that I've already started all of them. I don't have to motivate myself to start anything new, but rather just to pick up where I left off. Yay. 

So, beat your winter slug with a list! 

Until next time -


Book Review & Interview: the Right-Brain Business Plan

Hi everyone, today I wanted to talk a little about the "Right Brain Business Plan" which is a fabulous resource to all of you "right brainers" out there who are looking to start a business or are having a little challenge writing a business plan. Some of us "Creative types" avoid writing a formal business plan as the idea of huge word documents, boring excel spreadsheet and dare I say working out the money (Moola as the book refers to it as) scares us!

This book turns all of this around and using your right brain creative thinking style to work on creating a visual map for success. It will feed your creative side by taking you through each aspect of writing a plan for your business using vision boarding techniques, pictures, words and photos. There are lots of great worksheets to download full of color and fun and the book even makes spreadsheets exciting with the use of color and simple financial planning techniques.

Each chapter covers: * Using your creative intuition * How to use the right brain process * Crafting business values and vision * Looking at where your business fits into the big wide world * Marketing * managing the moola ($)! * Corralling your creative cohorts * Action planning * How to put it all together * Maintaining the magic and momentum *

“If you think of business planning as boring, well, you haven’t read this book yet. This is not business as usual… Jump right in!” – from the foreword by Chris Guillebeau, author of The Art of Non-Conformity

 Jennifer Lee - Author of "The Right Brain Business Plan"

I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Lee, the author a few months ago, so wanted to share a few of her insights about the book.

1) Jenn, huge congratulations on the publication of your book. Can you tell us a little about the book and who would benefit from it?
Thanks, Louise. The Right-Brain Business Plan guides you through a fun, visual, and accessible process for completing all the standard sections of a business plan. The book includes colorful, illustrated play sheets, creative exercises, full-color photos of featured Right-Brain Business Plans, and success stories of fellow right-brain entrepreneurs. The book is for budding and seasoned business owners including artists, crafters, writers, photographers, coaches, consultants, therapists, yoga teachers, massage therapists, holistic health counselors, non-profit leaders, educators, and any creative soul wanting to turn their passion into profit.

2) How long would you say it took from the time you had the idea to publication?

I made my first Right-Brain Business Plan in November 2007 at my kitchen table during Art Every Day Month. I had no idea then that this idea it would turn into a book! I created my 9-page handwritten and illustrated e-book in the spring of 2008. And in 2009 I set out to write a book (a totally different one!), but publishers were more interested in The Right-Brain Business Plan concept so I sent out proposals for that and landed my book deal with New World Library in the fall of 2009. My manuscript was due to my publisher in April 2010 and then it went into production and was published in February 2011. So, long story short, it took a little more than three years to go from initial idea to book on bookshelf.

3) What right brain tools did you use to develop your ideas and the plan for the book?
I used many of the right-brain tools that I talk about in the book! I used a Levenger Circa notebook to organize all of my existing material by chapter before I even started writing. That made it easier to know I wasn’t starting from scratch and it already started to “feel” like a book. I used mind-maps and sticky notes to brainstorm and outline content for chapters. I also used my sticky note project plan to map out my tasks and milestones throughout the publishing process.

4) What do you think are the biggest challenges for right brainers in business? And how to overcome them?
One that I see is that many right-brainers in business can overlook the financial aspects of business. I encourage people to acknowledge that the numbers can actually be a pretty creative process. You can use your imagination to come up with new, innovative income streams. And you can always get support from an expert to help you figure out the nitty gritty calculations to make sure you’re going to turn a profit.

I’d say the other is not trusting themselves enough. They tend to keep thinking they need more information or training, when really they just need to take some action, find clients, and make offers.

5) What is your favorite right brain booster and left brain chill pill?
It’s hard to pick one, but a favorite right-brain booster is to gain a fresh perspective using images. I also have my collaged values cards on an easel on my desk and that helps me focus my energy for the week.

My favorite left-brain chill pill is to acknowledge my accomplishments when I’m beating myself about all the things I haven’t finished yet.

Grab the book from Amazon here. Connect with Jennifer and The Right Brain Business Plan below:
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Louise Gale - Your Creative Career Consultant for The New New Blog