You know the increase in creative energy when you’re in the company of enthusiastic, like-minded artists or crafters? We keep hearing that the most successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with other successful entrepreneurs, right?
Well, that’s all true but there are times when you can actually sabotage your creative business if you’re hanging out with the wrong tribe. What do I mean by the “wrong” tribe? Aren’t all aspiring or growing entrepreneurs the right peeps to connect with? Not all. Here’s why:
Let’s say you’re starting a business making organic herbed olive oils. You tested them at a local farmers’ market and had a great response so you’ve decided to give an Etsy shop a try. You buy a few how-to-sell-on-Etsy books or videos and put up your shop and wait. Nothing’s happening. No one is buying.
You’re not even getting many page views. You’re feeling a little discouraged but you realize it takes awhile to grow a business so you try to connect with other makers to see what they are doing. The obvious place to go would be to get on the Etsy forums and connect with other sellers. Maybe you can get some positive suggestions so you post in a chat room and ask for help. You might be lucky and get some helpful tips but you’re more likely to find people saying things like “oh, you can’t make it selling that on Etsy. There are 700 other people selling infused olive oil on Etsy.” They aren’t asking you what you’re doing to stand out from the competition or giving you advice on how to get traffic to your page. Most likely, you’ll find other newish sellers who are on there complaining that they aren’t doing well either and you all start commiserating and discourage one another.
Recently, I asked a friend who is an uber successful Etsy seller if she ever goes on the forums to help newer makers or goes to meet-ups with local Etsy teams. Her answer: “Are you kidding? Successful Etsy sellers don’t have time to be hanging out on the forums. We’re busy filling orders. When I take a break from making, packaging and shipping, I’m updating listings and posting new photos on Pinterest to drive traffic to my site.”
So how, as a fledgling creative entrepreneur can you find people who not only answer your questions but understand what you’re going through and encourage and support you?
Here’s what I would do. I’d look for a few successful sellers whose products are complementary but not in competition with yours. Let’s say you make custom diaper bags. You might look for someone who is successfully selling baby shower invitations or hand knit baby sweaters. Contact them and be honest. Tell them you admire their work and were wondering if they would be willing to chat with you. You might even contact a few successful makers in your local area and invite the to meet for coffee. If they are so busy that they don’t have time to help you, hopefully they’ll at least give you the names of resources they used or a coach who helped them get started.
If you’ve already found people who boost you up, please share in the comments-we’d all love to hear your successes and cheer you on.