Friday, January 15, 2016

Rebranding: who we're working with & how we knew it was time! + Questions to think through if you're considering rebranding.

Up to this point in my business I thought I had to be good (read - perfect) at everything. This shop helps support us while my husband is in school and therefore I haven't had much of a budget to invest back into growing my business. Because of this, I have found myself wearing all of the hats: accounting, strategic business decisions, crafting, packaging and shipping, logo design, product photography, trademarking and business formation, social media marketing etc. I started this business because I wanted to make paper flowers. I wanted to put them on crosses, I wanted to put them on tiny signs and I wanted to share a piece of my passion with people everywhere. I did not start this business because I wanted to learn how to take and edit photos in Lightroom, how to strategically use social media to market and run promotions, how to apply for a trademark, and the list could go on and on.

Naturally I understand as tiny shops starting out without money to invest we HAVE to do all of this our selves. However, when you're stressed  because you're not spending any time being creative and instead you are trying to learn 15 new skills and not only learn them but be PERFECT at them, it might be time to take a breath and step back.

For me, that meant that there are a few things I just had to let go of. (Italics because I want you to know that it was and is still not an easy thing for me!)  Learning how to be a professional product photographer was one of them. Learning how to be an SEO (search engine optimization) expert was another one. And most importantly, learning how to be a graphic designer and website creator....I'm done with that! I've spent countless hours fiddling with fonts and logos and spending money that adds up on bits and pieces here and there. I've also spent hours upon days upon weeks learning some basic HTML coding to make the tabs and social media buttons at the top of my blogger up there. See them? Yeah, you better appreciate those things because I'm pretty sure my husband didn't see me for a week.

I'll talk more about letting some of these other things go in later posts but for now I'm going to focus on the biggest one:

re-branding and website design. 

**Before you read this. If you're  thinking there's no way you'll ever have the funds to pay someone else to do ANYTHING for your shop, don't get discouraged. I honestly never thought I would either, and this may not be an appropriate decision for you, now or ever - who knows?! Our businesses are all so unique and working to achieve different goals. I'll be sharing in the coming weeks about how to lessen the burden of product photos, making etsy listings, social media marketing, etc. All things you can do for free or a small monetary investment to take a load off and give it your best shot for success!

Yes, re-branding and desiging a website is definitely a financial investment. But it's just that, an investment. We prayed about this and felt that now, three years in and in the final months before my husband starts his new job, was the time to give things a final push. To see what the capacity of this little shop is and to fine tune our processes so that when we do move and start up a new routine we know *as much as we can* about what the shop and we can/can't handle.

Here's some of my thought process and advice I'd offer to you, yes you, you unsure business owner who doesn't think your shop is good enough for a re-brand, or you - you wild thing - who keeps no business records and is slowly eating into your child's college fund pursuing your crafting passions!

I encourage you to first set financial goals for your shop because this can be a rather large expense. For instance:

  • when I reach two months in a row with XX profit I will invest in a branding package, or 
  • when I reach a year of XX income from my shop I will invest in a website outside of Etsy.

I think having goals like this in mind that you write down, talk about, and stick to, can be extremely freeing. *Cough* While I didn't do this, sitting down with my husband at the end of the year and looking at trends, revenue, and profit led to some great goal setting conversations and the decision that I'm now at a benchmark where this is appropriate. Boy, would they have been helpful to have earlier!

If you're wondering exactly what that looks like I'll share a bit more that I normally would for the sake of helping you think it through. It means that:

  • last year I had enough profit to cover this branding package and website re-do without putting us in a bad financial situation. Do you have profit set aside from your business? Are you willing to make the jump right at the beginning and invest your personal money in this, or wait and try your best and invest business profit (if you earn any) later? 
  • my shop has started to stall/decline when it comes to profit because of more competition. I know the potential it has financially for us and we want to invest in this branding package to attract customers, keep up with and surpass competitors, and see if we can get it back to what it use to be and beyond. Who is your competition? Is your business declining? What does your logo/website/etc look like compared to your competition? Why specifically do you think updating your look would help you stand out amongst the competition? What other issues could there be with your product or business practices beyond your look?
  • we have a specific monetary goal in mind to help us pay for student loans that we start payments on in November and investing in the business now will hopefully help us invest in our personal future later. If it doesn't work - that's totally fine. But at this point if we didn't try we would always wonder. This gives us enough time to build the shop up before those payments begin. What is your goal for your business (personal, financial, etc)? Is it worth investing in? Investing how much financially? Are you and any other financial decision makers on the same page? What evidence do you have that rebranding will help you meet financial goals? What if rebranding doesn't help your business? 

So, now the best part.

I am literally over the moon excited to show you the mood board for our new/updated look coming soon by Chelsea of 23&9 Creative.

What do you think?! I'm so in love.

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