If you feel stuck in your business at all, taking a step back, as ironic as it seems can be huge for moving forward. If this post sparks something in you or you recognize what we're describing, take our Maker Business Type Quiz to better understand what's happening in your business.

Taking a step back can vividly point out what is shining in your business. Analyze areas that can maximize small amounts or bursts of work. When you can identify the areas that are critical to the big picture your brand soars. Equally important is reflecting and highlighting the things that may not be working for you. During this reflection time double check on where you are connecting to people the most.  There is an experience, task, or element of your job that you love the most.  What are the top 3 greatest products or money-makers you have? With just these three pieces of information you know what to focus the bulk of your efforts on. By hitting these key building blocks of your business your business will build towards sustainability and success.

Sometimes taking a step back and evaluating if things are working for you are not can be the key to expanding or taking your business to the next level. I have stumbled in pursuit of things out of misplaced feelings of loyalty or wishful expectations that were, in retrospect, pretty close to pipe dreams.  I came to the conclusion that I couldn't sustainably run my business indulging in things that ultimately cost me money. If you are always dreading something, if there is always a major hurdle to accomplish delivering on a task, that should be a huge flag during this reflective time. This just means that task deserves a closer look. Your time is precious and you should be filling it with things that are both equally rewarding as it is stimulating versus stressful and exhausting.

When the Academy spoke with Kristen Pumphrey of P.F. Candle Co. she touched on how they streamlined their business to focus on candles even though their book safes were getting a ton of buzz and great press. When they took a step back they could see that they were not able to wholesale and make a fair price on all their labor that goes into the book safes. And to be honest, they noted that products can be loved by many and bought by few. I myself felt the frustrations of everyone commenting on a particular item but never committing to a purchase. I used to think, “What gives?” I made the decision to do these items as a tutorial or give-a-way, so that the time to make large amounts of inventory can be focused on items that move the business forward. Again, time is precious. Business choices should be rational decisions based on facts and figures. Don't continue doing something just because people like it and you're scared you'll alienate them if you change. Continuing to do something that doesn't work for you can even disrupt the creative process and that flailing feeling will start to take over.

Take a moment and reflect on these topics for a moment:

  • What is something that people like of yours but are not paying for?
  • Do you have the time it takes to produce the item above for marketing/ promotional use only? In doing this, will it cost you time that could be making you money by doing something else?
  • Can you afford the money for supplies used making the product while in the process of selling it?
  • When selling at trade shows and choosing a table or booth configuration how does it affect your shop’s aesthetics?  Could you share the booth and share the expense to help your bottom line? How would a cheaper table option, but with less product area, affect your profit margin?
  • Is there a product or service you are working on that the selling price point is impossible to maintain or has little profit when selling wholesale? When operating like that it can make it very hard to scale your business.

At Craftcation 2013 Crafty Chica talked about how sometimes not spending money is making money. If you had the money available as positive business cash flow versus spent in creating inventory that you are unsure of selling, you may be in a position to use your money as savings. Having cash flow for some crucial business building moments can be game changing.

Just a few thoughts on stepping back from your daily creative and business battles and asking those tricky questions. Let me know any our your ideas or good tips for running a creative business in the comments below.