If I'm going to be honest, which I like to be, I'd have to say that 2013 was one of the hardest PaperDoll years to date. It was a great business year: lots of sales, lots of new customers and lots of new products. But it was tough. I by far worked more hours than ever. I let the stress of helping my family financially and being a one woman show get to me more than ever this year and it led me into a PaperDoll burnout of sorts. When I stopped at the end of the Christmas season and pretty much collapsed into a heap on the floor, I began to wonder why this year had been so hard and hadn't seemed as rewarding (financially or otherwise) as years past and I realized a few things. It's caused me to revamp some of my ways and make some changes to ensure that 2014 will be a great year.
- I have been trying to be everything to everyone. Every time a customer would ask me if I could make a product that I wasn't currently selling, I would spend hours, days, weeks even trying to figure out a way to add it to my list of products. If someone asked me for an invitation with princesses and alligators, I would spend quite a bit of time trying to come up with something even if in the end I ended up telling them I couldn't do it. There were several items on my website that I just didn't enjoy making and there were many that just weren't selling well. I need to stick to what I know and love. Now this absolutely doesn't mean that I shouldn't add new products and designs but I need to remember that I can't do it all. Sometimes I have to say no.
- I spent far too much time this year tracking customers down for payment. Many without success. This is stressful. I know it may not sound like a big deal but if I have spent hours working on an order and then I don't get paid, it's a waste of my time and resources. If I have 10+ customers not paying for or picking up their order, it adds up fast and stresses me out. I have solved this by discontinuing the "pay at pick up" perk but I feel terribly guilty about it because I have some fabulous customers that ALWAYS paid. In the end, I know this is my best solution. So far, I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.
- I sometimes forget that I actually have a full time job. Yes, I am blessed to be able to work at home and have a flexible schedule, but still...it's a full time job. I try to make myself out to be a stay at home mom instead of a work at home mom. I try to fit it all in...working out, hanging with friends, shuttling kids here and there, helping with homework, keeping up with the house, paying bills, running errands, meal planning, Bible studies, school parties, and more...and then work tends to be what happens in the wee hours. I end up not sleeping like normal people and that just can't be good. I also find myself feeling guilty 24/7. Guilty that I am not on a field trip, guilty that my house isn't spotless, guilty that I told a friend I couldn't go to lunch, guilty that I am working while my family is watching a movie together and the list goes on. I envy those moms that work all day and still seem to get it all done but I've learned this year that I need to figure out a new system. No sleep is not a good system. Feeling guilty all the time is not a good system. I think 4 straight weeks of being sick at the end of the year proved that. I also felt myself starting to really envy my friends who are stay at home moms. Envy is a green eyed monster. I am blessed beyond measure and really do love the creativity that my business allows. I need to practice gratitude and be at peace with the fact that I need to work BUT I need to find a schedule that works for me and my family. This is a work in progress but my attitude and my schedule are two things I intend to focus on changing this year.
- I take things personally. I am probably the last person that should have their own business because there is nothing "tough as nails" about me. I've been known to cry like a baby when I open a package and find that my printers have made a mistake and I will have to tell my customer that there is a delay. I have spent hours self-loathing because I spelled a name wrong on an order and have to redo it. I have been known to have "the worst day ever" because I've received a nasty email from someone who's not happy with a 2 week turnaround time. This year I need to pray more and leave it all in my office. I am going to work on not taking things personally and not taking PaperDoll downstairs with me to my family.
- I got lonely. One of my least favorite parts of running a biz solo is that there is no one to bounce ideas around with. My friends and family don't want to talk clipboard designs and the latest color trends everyday. If my computer or printers break, there's not an IT guy down the hall. I'm not an accountant so the task of month ends and taxes is definitely one I'd love to share. I do love alone time but I often wish someone else could make some of the decisions. This year I am hoping to connect more with other small biz owners just so I don't feel like I'm the only one in this boat.
- One of the highlights of my year was going to Whatever Craft Weekend and several Crafter's Bash events. I also got great joy out of sitting for hours making yarn poms with my little girl. It made me realize that I miss doing creative stuff JUST FOR ME. I spend so much time filling orders that I have little energy for making my own items. This year I need to change that. I love making cute PaperDoll items and sending them on their way but sometimes its fun to use my creativity in other ways.
I am so blessed by my customers! Some of you have been around the entire time! I met some of my dearest friends through PaperDoll and my heart STILL skips a beat every time I get an order! I am honored by your business! I hope you will stay with me through some of these changes and continue to shop PaperDoll in years to come!
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