Lately instead of vigorously being creative with every day objects, I have been figuring out if my business is ready to take to the next level.

On Alibris, I have 700 books for sale, sitting in piles and boxes all over the office floor are around 1,000 more to catalog! Now you might say, “Wow! That’s great!” Indeed it is. Now imagine cataloging all those books one at a time and then storing them in my tiny house until they sell and then tracking the book down, packing it professionally, and shipping it. And then doing all the accounting.

Then on top of that, I am running three Etsy shops, all of which are relatively successful. Of course I’m also trying to take classes. I want be certified in Advanced Web Design. I have a basic certification now and I’ve been working on the advanced certificate for quite some time . . . I have a three year old constantly at my feet (or climbing on my back. I was doing planks this morning during my workout with an extra 25 pounds on back!) and I have two part time jobs + a semi part time job. I am also working on the publishing end of Ellipsis. Then on top of all that I have to keep my house reasonably clean, cook meals, and take care of the garden.

All of this, from time to time, gets very old. I have to admit it. Trying to work up to self sufficiency is not easy, especially with massive student loan debt (that’s whole other gripe session.) So I’m searching for ways to do a bit less. One of the ideas I came up with was to open an actual brick and mortar store.

Whoa now, you are probably wondering, how on Earth would that be less work? Well let me explain, maybe by less work I really mean more organized. If we could get our office (my fiancee and I) out of our house, that would be all sorts of awesome. Our daughter could more into the office and have an actual bedroom! Then her tiny room could be a craft room. (!!!)

The plan would be to keep two of my jobs, the library and bookstore, and hire Matthew to work at the store three days a week, whereas I would work the rest. He would do all this graphic and CG work at the office/store. We would do publishing (print and online) and also keep all the online stores running. Our daughter could be there with us. Fortunately Galena has a pretty steady stream of tourists in peak season, unfortunately Galena is very slow between January and March (and I mean VERY slow), and rent is astronomical. So perhaps I could find an upstairs studio apartment or loft with a Main Street entrance? This would be completely acceptable.

So I’m finding myself putting together a business plan. I always sort of had one, but never Grow Your Own Handmade Businessofficially. It’s been wonderful! I am getting thoughts together and organizing my ideas into valid concepts. Really helping me with this is the book, “Grow Your Own Handmade Business” by Kari Chapin. Click the picture for her blog. It is very easy to read and makes a lot of sense. I’ve tried more “traditional” business books, but they are just not in my language. Kari follows a logical sequence and although I will probably need a bit more information once I am finished working through the book, I will have a great foundation. It’s set up like a workbook and has exercises throughout to enforce what is being read. It’s also very real. I feel like she is just talking to me with practical advice and first person experience. I love that if she honestly is not sure of something she says that and then finds someone to interview that does know.

One of the exercises I really found helpful and think will be even more helpful in a “public” manner is to take stock of successes. So what have I accomplished since I opened for business?

  • Registered a real business with the country
  • Opened a book store on Alibris and reached 700 books for sale and sold 500
  • Opened an Etsy shop for used books, jams, jellies, and teas
  • Opened an Etsy shop for vintage items and another for handmade and upcycled items
  • In 2012 I made a significant profit!
  • Set up at my first craft show
  • Found a commercial kitchen for my use
  • Began to sell in a retail location
  • Regularly kept a blog!
  • Found local producers for all of my products!

See now that I remembered what I have already done, thinking about what I still have to do isn’t so bad. Now I can tackle things in a new light.