There is something very weird in growing a business that things that were "musts" in the beginning no longer are such as you progress. If you are someone is in anyway nostalgic or enjoys certainty, then this is a particularly hard truth to deal with. Even if your not, growth is awkward and outgrowing things can be difficult.
Types of Outgrowing
First, you might be wondering... am I even growing? And often when something starts to feel hard in our business or that it's not working like it used to, that doesn't necessarily mean you are just "over it." It often means growth is happening.
Outgrowing Etsy and Other Selling Platforms as Your Focus
I just had a conversation with a member the other day about how she has significantly pared down the craft shows she will be participating in for this year.
This isn't a weird "craft shows are bad" attitude, but it's that they are no longer working for her particular business focus. She's done them. She knows what she wants out of them. And she can get that in just a couple holiday shows.
Going through all of those shows was part of her growth and now shedding most of them is part of her next phase of growth. Maybe doing none of them will be the next phase. Who knows. Being sentimental about shows she likes and still doing them is probably not going to help with growth.
This happens a lot with Etsy. People get on their, feel like it helped them get their start then feel like they are being disloyal jumping off it. And sometimes, they are afraid they can't make it without that support. We talk about this a bit more here.
No Longer Able to Wear All the Hats
The DIY spirit of many independent business owners is what allows them to do well starting a business. You can make things, handle customer service, fulfill and ship orders, and keep track of money. But as you grow, defining where you're going to be an expert at and what you need to let go of is essential.
This doesn't always mean outsourcing everything. You can't always do that right away. Sometimes it means upgrading your machines, automating certain business tasks, paying for better online bookkeeping services. And then sometimes it is actually outsourcing-- your printing, parts of production, selling at your booth at craft shows, aspects of fulfillment, etc.
Letting Go of Product Holding You Back
The prime example I can think of this is our friends P.F. Candle Co. who originally started selling a lot more than just candles. One of their products, book safes, had garnered a lot of press but they were a pain to make in mass and just not profitable to wholesale. To move forward, they had to let go of them. People liked them, they got them attention, but the business was outgrowing them.
Everyone Goes Through an Awkward Phase
Doing all of this growth can be like puberty all over again... super awkward and an emotional rollercoaster.
Going from Etsy to your own website can be incredibly "awkward"-- you are now the driver of traffic, the decider of the aesthetics and the manager of things like domains and servers. It can actually feel like more work in the beginning than what it's worth. It can also be emotionally draining because there are so many decisions to make and they all really fall on you to make.
But know that it's super common. Everyone who has grown has experienced this in some way. You probably don't notice it because you are likely not watching as closely or as hard on others as you are yourself.
Growth Doesn't Always Look the Same, Which is Why It's Hard to Do It
By now, we all have heard about the dangers of comparing our growth to others'. And it's true, every business is different. But all growth even in our own businesses will not always look the same. It's what make growth hard and scary-- it's incredibly unpredictable how it will unfold.
Which is why it can be easy to resist outgrowing things. It feels comfortable to stay with what we know, even if we can see that it's no longer working well. But this is like going through puberty and still trying to fit into your footie PJs your gramma got you for Christmas as a kid. You can try, but eventually that will get really uncomfortable!
I'd love to know, how have you dealt with the awkward growth points in your business?