I am splitting this blog post up into 3 posts in order to allow me to discuss each goal in a little bit more detail, and hopefully shed some light on why it is a focus of mine for next year.
-Shakeup My Stockists
-Secure more painting commissions in 2020
-Make more, increase handmade offerings
-Work Less, Live More
-Learn more digital skills
My goals are a lot different to last years. Last years goals felt like milestones I wanted to reach, full of facts and figures in an attempt to quantify success. For 2020 my approach is as reflective as it is about trying something new. This last year has been so brilliant, and I want to keep learning, improving and building on what I have achieved so far.
Shakeup my Stockists
This was a tough one as last year a goal of mine was to be stocked in 2 shops, and after getting a brilliant 7 stockists I am now looking to reduce them. This is because I have been able to try a range of different models, working with a range of hops in a range of cities. I am learning what does and doesn’t work for me and the capabilities and priorities that I have for my illustration work. I am planning to remove my work from some of my existing stockists and focus more on working with shops on a Sale or Return or wholesale basis. Excitingly I have already begun this transformation of my business and aim to find new partners to work with throughout 2020.
Secure More Painting Commissions in 2020
It might not be clear in the title of this one, but I’m not necessarily looking to do more painting commissions than i did in 2019, I just want to keep doing them! Over this last year I have learnt so much and had such incredible opportunities to work on murals and sculpture paintings across the UK. My goal for 2020 is to find more and grow my experience and portfolio in this area even further. I am happily already in talks about some sculptures and murals for this next year, so I just need to keep everything crossed that they come good.
Finding direction in self employment
It’s been just over a year now since I started my journey as an illustrator. Now we’re over 200 products later, from 25mm badges to 5ft wallaby statues. 30 commissions, 950 instagram followers and a handful of collaborations. Heck, it’s even 31 blog posts. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in this year, but it’s not just been win after win and out there on your own can be a daunting place.
What do now?
My business strategy has been something of a headless chicken approach so far. I’ve been like an excitable puppy, running around looking for opportunities and jumping at them, tail wagging. It’s worked well and is the reason that I have achieved so much in this first year. A lot of graft, determination and research! Is it enough though? Probably not. In terms of long term I have some ideas but I’ve never tried to strategize them. I’m a bit of an energy ball and I throw myself at things quite passionately.
The problem is that when I can’t find any suitable opportunities I start to scratch my head a bit. Taking time to caretake, practice and just wait doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m not particularly scared of burnout because I’m so happy with everything I am doing and I don’t begrudge myself days off when I need them. My struggle is more with dialling down that puppy behaviour when there isn’t something endlessly exciting on the immediate horizon.
How important is a business plan anyway?
Unfortunately I’ve a feeling that the answer is probably pretty important. I think that I’ve gotten by so far because although I don’t have a document labeled ‘business plan’ I’ve got the components of it. My toolkit comprises of a thorough budget and I analyse products, fairs and marketing costs and income. I listen to feedback, I think about what I’d like to achieve and as I’ve said before, I do a LOT of research. Plus I have an incredibly comprehensive and colour coded calendar spreadsheet which keeps me on schedule and I use Trello project management software to track everything I do right down to this very blog. In fact, I’m so obsessive about my admin that surely a business plan would just be like a collage of all the info I already have? Even this blog encourages me to reflect on what I’ve done so far and where I want to go.
Five year plans are not, and never will be my style. They seem so inflexible. The fear of becoming obsessed by a predetermined list of goals written four years ago is not a responsive enough methodology for me. My annual goals are the closest I’m comfortable with, and even they are out of my comfort zone.
I guess the main thing I need to be wary of is to do the unfun stuff too. Prospecting is repetitive, HMRC forms are unavoidable. Being reflective, on top of the paperwork and focused are the only ways that this thing is going to work.
Wish Me Luck!