The 1st MAY 2020 officially marks three whole years since I began trading as Peach Panda Studio. Long time followers of mine will remember I actually owned Rachel’s Fantasy Island before that, a little textile gift shop, but I was absolutely winging that from start to finish and whilst it was super important to me at the time, I don’t count it as my official start in the creative business world.
Over the past three years I’ve built Peach Panda, graduated with a degree, started ANOTHER creative business and got myself a studio space that’s not my bedroom. Anniversaries are always a great time for reflection so here’s three important things I’ve learnt on this small business rollercoaster ride.
ONE – Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Personally, I’ve never been one to have one set thing to focus on, I like to keep myself on my toes by balancing lots of projects, hence why I now own two creative businesses (Peach Panda and Contrary to Reason) and do various other freelance bits.
However, I don’t mean that everyone should run multiple businesses at once! It works for me because it satisfies all aspects of my personality.
There are ways to diversify within one creative business, and it’s just a super sensible way of approaching things. If you sell on Etsy and only Etsy (which is fine, it’s a great platform!), what are you going to do if one day something changes and you’re just not getting traffic to your store anymore? What if you sell on your website and a server goes down, what if you have domain problems?
It’s always best practice to show up in more than one place.
I have totally different audiences on various platforms, different people to get to know and to tell about my work.
It’s important to not stretch yourself too thinly though, I didn’t just wake up on the 1st May 2017 and have all these channels working for me straight away. Gradually build your presence in a way that works for you and your community.
TWO – Work Smart, Not Hard
This is a tricky one to get right! I’ve only really got this idea to work for me since the start of this year.
Working smart, not hard, is the kind of quote you see banded around on Pinterest quite a lot. It doesn’t mean wing it and good things will happen, it doesn’t mean you can chill for most of the day. What it does mean is that by figuring out what the most productive ways of working for you are, you can achieve what you aim for without pulling the 12 hour day, quite frankly unhealthy, ‘hustle’.
Personally, because I manage two businesses plus side projects, I organise Monday to Friday so that I’m not mixing up different tasks too much. My previous schedules have been chaotic, trying to do a little bit of everything each day which just wasn’t feasible.
My current schedule now looks a little like this:
MONDAY- Peach Panda Studio
TUESDAY- AM – Contrary to Reason, PM – Indie Hull
WEDNESDAY- AM – Blog Posts, PM – Website Admin, Evening- Peach Panda Orders
THURSDAY – Contrary to Reason
FRIDAY- Content planning and scheduling, PM – Peach Panda
I’ve grouped things together in a way that makes sense, I don’t have to switch between totally different things, and I give my brain a better chance at keeping up. I never work weekends, it’s important to give my brain a proper break so the most I do at a weekend is check in on social media, post the odd photo or video, or take pictures for future content.
I also adapted my working day too! I’m never gonna be a member of the 5am club, and my previous schedule expected me to be sat at my desk ready to work at 8am. It’s just not for me! My new schedule includes ‘learning’ time between 9am and 10am, during which I’ll dip into an online course I’ve got bookmarked, or read a business book. Nothing too intense or regimented, just a productive start to the day to get in the right headspace.
I then start properly at my desk at 10am, not feeling rushed and ready to get cracking. I give myself an hour for lunch, which at first seemed like a weird concept when I’m working from home 4 out of 5 days, but it’s actually really essential to carry productivity through into the afternoon. If it only takes half an hour to eat, then I read a book or just allow myself some mindless scrolling time on Instagram.
This new schedule has been the best for me, and no doubt I’ll be continuously rejigging it, but it’s my schedule and I can do that.
THREE – Write Proper Goals
Leading on from Work Smart, Not Hard, setting proper, achievable and measurable goals is a really important thing to do.
My daily to do list is essentially the tiny steps needed to achieve big goals. Again, this is only something I’ve started doing this year. I now write quarterly goals, and it’s really helpful with deciding which areas of my businesses I need to be working on in order to accomplish things.
For example, by the end of June (quarter 2), I want to have created a product range for Contrary to Reason, and have some CTR products listed on Folksy (that’s me not putting all my eggs in one basket).
I also want to establish myself as a writer so another goal for Q2 is to have my first article published by a magazine.
By the end of quarter 3, I want to have at least 20 Patreon subscribers for Peach Panda Studio, and be consistently posting 1 blog post per week.
Having these goals written out and divided up into achievable time frames is the most helpful thing I can do for myself. If you’re struggling with defining some quarterly goals for yourself, think about what you want to achieve by the end of the year and go from there. Divide it up and think about the steps it will take to achieve it.
BONUS TIP- Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
If you didn’t complete your to-do list today, don’t worry about it. I RARELY complete a to-do list. It doesn’t matter. I wrote it for myself. I’ll come back to it tomorrow.
If I’m not feeling motivated, I pick the easy tasks to do. Sometimes I barely do any of those! There’s not point forcing it when you’re not in the headspace for it. Just do your best to show up and know that there’s always tomorrow to try again. Getting yourself stressed out is the most counter-productive thing you can do.
I hope you enjoyed my small business tips, feel free to check out my shop, and comment below if you have any other great tips!