Sunday, October 14, 2007

Making Choices

When I first started selling my work, I was thrilled to pieces any time anyone.....absolutely anyone....wanted to buy my work. When I started selling wholesale, and I would get an inquiry from someone wanting my catalog, I was jumping for joy. I still am thrilled each time I get an order. Or when I make a sale at a show. But I am starting to make more choices about where and how I sell my work, and where my time gets spent.

The major decision I made recently was to only sell my cranes wholesale. This is as much by necessity as anything. But it also focuses my efforts in preparing for a show, and at the show. It is fairly easy for me to sell a crane. I have stories galore about the symbolism of cranes, and people's connections with the cranes, and all sorts of justifications for buying a crane. But while I am making the crane sale, I am neglecting the rest of my work. And, sometimes I sell the cranes, and "hope" the rest of my work will sell. Not a good strategy. If my energy is focused on cranes, that is where the attention of potential customers will be drawn.

There is plenty of demand for the cranes from my wholesale business. I can sell every crane I make. This has also led me to prioritize where the cranes go. I have not gotten cranes out to my consignment accounts yet. I don't have the back stock to send them. I expect that by the end of November, I will be able to supply them. But if you pay up front, you get to the front of the line. It is that simple.

It used to be that when someone wanted me to send them a catalog, I was thrilled. They liked my work! They might buy it! Well, most of those turned out to be little more than catalog collectors. Some turned into orders. But I do not get quite as excited these days by those inquiries. I still respond, but it is not always the first thing to get done.

When I started out, I had to search out most of my opportunities. Now, I find more and more opportunities come to me directly. People who have seen my work at a show. People who have seen my work on-line. People who saw my work in a magazine. Do you remember when you were entering your senior year in high school, and you started getting all the catalogs from colleges that wanted you to apply to their school. It is not quite as dramatic, but the feeling is similar. People wanting me to apply to their show, or submit samples for their catalog, or design a product exclusively for them. But not all these opportunities may be a good fit for where I see myself heading.


It feels good to have choices. But, it means I need to make choices. Start figuring out in what direction I want my business to be heading. What do I want my business to look like in five years? Will this help you get there? When I was applying to colleges I would look at where a school was located, how big the school was, and how strong they were in my potential major. All the things that helped me to sort through the options. Figuring out what was right for me. A good school is the school that is the best fit for my goals. Likewise a good show or other opportunity is the one that best fits my goals. I have to go through a sorting process. Do I have the time? Does it fit my work? How much will it cost me to do? Does it fit my schedule? Do I want to do it?

Bottom line: We each have to make choices that are right for us. We are the only ones who know what will work the best for us. It doesn't mean we won't make mistakes along the way. Mistakes are a given. They are bound to occur as we try new things out. But if we take manageable risks, they can be information that informs our choices as we move forward. It is essential that we regularly check in. Stopping to figure out where are we going, and are our actions supporting our goals?

2 comments:

Barbara said...

I think your last line is the key: does this choice move me closer to my goals or not?

Of course, it's not always clear which choices are the best!

I pretty quickly discovered that there are many more opportunities to show my art than I had time or art to show. That was an important realization. You can't do everything, so be selective!

Barbara J Carter
www.barbarajcarter.com

Judy said...

Hi Barbara, You are so right. It is that final question that is essential....and that we are not always clear about where we are going! But sometimes that comes down to trusting our gut, I believe. And to not beat ourselves up over the inevitable mistakes, or times we get sidetracked. If we learn from those times, and keep moving forward, more is accomplished than with self berating.