Tuesday, January 6, 2015

When You NEED To Embrace Change




A new year is a great time to make some changes.

We all know change can be hard.  Changing jobs, changing homes, changing anything, takes us out of our normal routine, and forces us to think differently.  But, sooner or later, you have to accept the change, in whatever form it comes … and you know what, once you past the first “this is different” hurdle, it’s usually quite fun and a great new challenge! 

We found a fantastic article yesterday on change for the new year by Marc Chernoff.  We’ve peppered in some points from it: (link to the full article is at the bottom of this page)

"Remember, you ultimately become what you repeatedly do.  If your habits aren’t helping you, they’re hurting you.  Here are ... examples of the latter that stole happiness from hundreds of our coaching clients last year:


Sticking exclusively with what you already know. – When you stop learning you stop living a meaningful life.  This is the truth.  Life’s richness does not come from always residing within familiar and comfortable territory.  It’s when you venture out, away from the familiar, that you grow stronger and more capable.  You must hold tightly to your core values while at the same time opening your heart and mind to new ideas, feelings and experiences.  Your own perspective will become clearer when you look at things from different angles.  Find ways to provide a healthy challenge to your current understanding of life, and you will discover and experience far more of life’s magic in the year ahead."

There were some big changes in e:commerce in 2014, and some bigger ones to come this year (actually in the next couple of weeks!).

If you’re running a creative e:commerce shop, on any site, you deserve huge congrats!  E:commerce is such a major factor for today’s shoppers, that the fact you’re selling is a fabulous accomplishment.  Those of us on community e:commerce sites often see similar sites as their “competition.”  But if you think about it, EVERY SINGLE e:commerce site is competition.   From Target, to Zappos … it doesn’t matter how big (or small) you are, we’re all in the same e:commerce boat.  The success of your site / shop totally depends on the attention you can get it.  The traffic, the eyeballs.  When I think about this, I’m amazed that the piece of jewelry I made sold with this level of competition.  Pretty cool, right?

Because of the above, selling on an e:commerce site, any site, takes work and dedication.  You can’t just throw up an item and *hope* it sells, you have to work it.  You have to get those buyer's eye balls to your items.  The good news is there are many ways to do that and loads of ways The CraftStar helps you.  But there’s also some tough news coming.





Back to the article:

Focusing on everyone’s story except your own. – Don’t be so satisfied with the success stories of others and how things have gone for them that you forget to write your own.  And don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 15.  Unfold your own tale and bring it to life.  You have everything you need to become what you are capable of becoming.  Incredible change happens when you decide to take control.  This means consuming less and creating more.  It means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking and deciding for you.  It means learning to respect and use your own ideas and instincts to write your passage.  If you want your life story to soar to new heights this year, you’ve got to clear a path, reduce the time-sinks and burdens weighing you down, and pick up the things that give you wings.  Keep your best wishes and your biggest goals close to your heart and dedicate time to them every day.

Let’s hit on some hard truths here.  This isn’t meant to cause a riot, it’s just plainly spelling out what’s going on in our world of creative e:commerce and changes for us in 2015.  

#1:

Facebook.  For years now, we’ve all been promoting our items on Facebook and sending traffic to our shops, no matter what platform we’re selling on.  Well, we knew this was coming in some form or another, and Facebook confirmed it in November.  We knew they wanted a piece of those sales that happen through their platform, and they’ve come up with the way they’re going to get it.  Starting January 15th, if your posts on Facebook are commercially based, FB will only share them to a very limited number of people … unless you pay for them.  You know how you post something now and Facebook tells you 132 people saw this post?  That’s going to stop, overnight.  They’ve made it clear it’s not going to be a soft change, it’s going to be sudden and startling.  The place where most people use to promote will now want your $$ to do it.  An article I read said the average amount of money someone would have to spend to get the coverage they previously received is $2,000 - $3,000 a MONTH!   It’s that serious.  So what do we do?

We work together as a community and learn to use other platforms in more effective ways.  That same article says LinkedIn and Twitter are the next two you should focus on (besides Facebook.)  The CraftStar is doing a LIVE small business BootCamp … three weeks where we have special guests discussing: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter … and how YOU can best maximize your use and time on these platforms.  (you can find the dates and topics on any of our social media pages.)
 


From the article: 


Resisting life’s inevitable and necessary changes. – There will always be more tough changes to make.  Always!  And yes, this growth can be painful.  Change can be painful.  But in the end, nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you do not belong.  You’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago or a week ago.  You’re always growing.  Experiences don’t stop.  That’s life.  It takes a great deal of courage to admit that something needs to change, and a lot more courage, still, to accept responsibility for making the change happen.  But doing so is worth every bit of effort you can muster.

#2:

We've seen petitions go around, countless posts in Forums all over the internet, people jumping up and down asking / demanding Etsy goes back to what they once were:  a handmade site.  Guys - this ain’t gonna happen.  They’ve changed, they’ve moved on … and it’s not as if they’ve done anything wrong, they’ve just taken (and continue to take) the next step in their plan.  ( http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abn/y14/m12/i16/s03 )

So if you’re an Etsy seller, where do you fit in with this?  If you’re a creative small business (as opposed to a reseller), it might be the right time for you to accept the change and move on too.  This isn’t as hard or crazy as it sounds.

The success of any e:commerce site in this day and age, E included, is dependent on the traffic driven to it by the community.  While E has a lot of money to advertise, they also have a huge amount of sellers sending potential buyers to the site.  BUT … this can work anywhere.

E was built on the creative small businesses, but they’re not the focus anymore, so if YOU (the creative small business) created something as hugely successful as Etsy, you can also do that with another site, one whose focus is on you … and that’s where we’re going with The CraftStar.  Think of us as E 8 years ago.  We’re totally focused on creative small businesses, there are NO resellers, and we’re building together as a community.

Based on simple numbers, YOU can be even more successful on a new and smaller site like The CraftStar.  There aren’t 2,673 shops selling the same thing.  There aren’t resellers selling something similar to what you handmade for a quarter of the price.  You WILL stand out and we CAN be a hugely successful site if everyone on board, and all the new people joining, make a pledge and effort to promote their items on The CraftStar.  Remember?  It’s time to move on and create a new movement in the creative small business world.  Together, it can be done.





Another great point from the article:  

Letting yesterday’s displeasures defeat you. – Don’t live with disappointment, live beyond it.  You cannot stop what has already happened, but you can let it make you stronger and more determined.  The journey to emotional maturity requires that you review the events in your life to find the wisdom and purpose they contain.  And a time will inevitably come in your life when you finally get it.  When in the midst of all your hesitation and frustration you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out, “ENOUGH!”  This is the turning point that ultimately leads to healing and growth.  So as we begin a new year, close the door on your past, open the door to your future, take a deep breath, take a step forward, and start a new chapter in your life.


There’s another hard truth we, as creative small business owners, need to think about:

Stand alone / vanity sites, will almost always leave you standing alone.  This area frustrates me SOO much.  GoDaddy, Shopify and the likes make it sound soooo easy to create a stand alone site and be a huge success.  What they don’t tell you is how many stand alones are “dark” (no longer running.)  Think about it:  unless you have a HUGE customer base, and / or selling items that people reorder consistently (soaps for example), where are you going to get your customers / traffic?  We’ve seen this happen over and over.  People think “I don’t need an Etsy / The CraftStar, etc .. I can do this myself.”  And off they go.  One month is spent making a gorgeous website.  One month is spent being excited because  friends and family have cruised through and bought things, and one month is spent wondering where the rest of the people are.  I call this “The Three-Monther” because we’ve seen this happen so often.  A shop might leave The CraftStar because they’re not getting enough sales (often because they’re promoting another site), but they come back in around 3 months.  It took me ages to figure out what was going on ... then we did some research. Sure enough, those shops were creating stand alone / vanity sites.  Again, unless you have a huge repeat customer base, or you have thousands (literally) to spend on advertising monthly (even more $$ with the Facebook change) … they just don’t work.  You need the other sellers to help bring in the traffic.  It pays to be part of a community who are all promoting the same venue.





By the way, 85% of shops who leave The CraftStar come back!  That’s a FABULOUS number and it totally shows that creative small businesses want this choice of venue, the community, and all the extras we provide for a very small monthly fee.

Aaannnnddd … back to the article:

Focusing on every little problem. – The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our attitudes, not our circumstances.  If you’re stressed out by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your interpretation of it; and this is something you have the power to change at any moment.  In other words, frustration and stress come from the way you react, not the way things are.  Adjust your attitude, and the frustration and stress is gone. 

With the hard truths out of the way, let’s talk about a positive side for the new year.  The CraftStar … we’re on the right path:  for a small company, we make a lot of noise in the e:commerce world (!) with our LIVE shows, and social media team - doing as much as we can for creative small businesses.  It’s a lot to do with community … a community that supports each other and helps get the word out.  We’re still “new” to the e:commerce world and our challenge is introducing ourselves to as many people (buyers and sellers) as we can.  We also focus on nurturing, educating, and building our small businesses.  We run regular LIVE seminars and weekly events for you to get to know The CraftStar team and other sellers.  We have a promotion team who helps get you and your items out there.  There are a bunch of unique things we do on The CraftStar … you can read about them on site, in past blogs, or in the Forums.

Together, we can make The CraftStar THE next big thing.  It’s up to you and all of us pulling together.

Happy 2015!!  We ARE better together!!!  

And the final point: 

Letting others define what’s possible for you and your life. – Some people will kill you over time if you let them; and how they’ll kill you is with tiny, seemingly harmless phrases like, “Be realistic.”  When this happens, close your ears and listen to your inner voice instead.  Remember that real success in life isn’t what others see, but how you feel inside.  It’s living your truth and doing what makes you feel alive.  There will come a time when your back is up against the wall and you’ll realize all you can do is say, “I’m sorry, I’m doing things my way this time!”  That’s the earth-shattering moment you stop planning for someone else’s expectations and start making progress on what’s truly important to YOU.  That’s when you begin to live life according to your own morals and values.  And that’s when you can finally be happy and free.





Many thanks to Marc Chernoff:   http://www.marcandangel.com/2015/01/04/12-little-habits-that-stole-your-happiness-last-year/
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