Episode 14: If At First...

Isaac draws encouragement from one leader’s persistent actions and looks at how failure and rejection is not the end of your efforts. Michelle Baines of Four Letter Word Cards joins as this episode’s guest with her thoughts on predicaments, persistence, and perfectionism.

“Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Regardless of your political leanings, this is a phrase that you’ve no doubt heard in 2017. If you’re fuzzy around the details, it came up in response to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s objections during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing as Attorney General. She refused to let up until she was actually voted to silence by the Senate, and it’s since become a rallying cry the feminist movement.

I’m not here to talk about elected office or senate proceedings or institutionalized misogyny, but I am here to talk about encountering resistance in your everyday business ownership. And I think there’s a useful lesson to draw from Senator Warren’s experience on the Senate floor. She felt so strongly about her objections that she didn’t give up until other people shut her down. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t successful in preventing the attorney general’s confirmation, but it paved the way for something more powerful than the matter at hand. And she didn’t know it would at the time.

There’s a lot of “trying” in handmade business. Running a handmade business is like running a grand experiment. You’re constantly testing against your hypothesis, evaluating your results, tweaking your approach, and trying again. So when you encounter adversity, failures, or nos along the way, shutting down and backing off are not the right answer. Rejection and roadblocks may beat you down, but you’ve got to bounce back.

You’ve probably heard a million times that the definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. WRONG! Not only is this “quote” falsely attributed to Albert Einstein, the entire premise is bunk. The only thing insane about it is how much people keep quoting it. If something doesn’t work the first time, there’s nothing wrong with trying it again, or tweaking your approach to see if you can generate a better outcome.

Trying something new is hard, especially if it means putting yourself out there in a vulnerable way. We all know that handmade businesses are incredibly personal. When you put your creativity out there, you put yourself on the line, and it’s really easy to take criticism, failure, or setbacks personally and let the world get you down.

It’s kind of like that feeling when you’re climbing stairs and aren’t really paying attention to each and every step. Maybe you’re looking at your phone, maybe you’re daydreaming, maybe it’s dark and you’re on your way to bed. As you reach the top, your brain insists there’s one more step to go. You lift your leg up for that final push and it falls 7 inches to the floor—your stomach drops what feels like 10 feet and your heart races as you instantly think you’re falling. And then in another instant you realize you’re still upright, standing on solid ground, and that the final step was a figment of your imagination.

Launching a new product, pitching your first wholesale buyer, or talking about yourself and your work to a stranger in a craft show booth may tie your stomach in knots or raise your heartbeat. And when you no doubt encounter rejection or criticism or insult, it can feel like you’re falling. Like you’re failing. But you must persist.

You can’t control the nos, but you can control your reaction, your attitude, and what you do next. Use this to your advantage to push forward, to improve, to keep going and make the most out of your handmade business.


Episode Guest: Michelle Baines

Michelle Baines is the Unicorn Leader and Confetti Bringer (a.k.a. Owner) of Four Letter Word Cards, which she created 3 years ago with the desire to create celebratory cards for all relationships. (And because of a love of glitter, unicorns and curse words.) Michelle created her small business after being frustrated with corporate America and the lack of commitment to stellar customer service. With Four Letter Word Cards, she can be as creative as possible and connect with her customers on a personal level, through social media and her website. It's pretty much a win, win, win, win.

Follow @fourletterwordcards on Instagram.


Facing Unexpected Challenges (blog post) Michelle Baines goes into greater detail about how she dealt with the mold saga last year.

Craft Show Booths That Sell Your Stuff! A webinar on 10/12 with Lib Ramos of Indie Craft Parade and Makers Summit all about maximizing your booth to maximize your craft show sales. Use code "YHB" for 10% off.

Holiday Game Plan: Get off the holiday hamster wheel and get a plan that will let you think strategically about your business. We have eight resource-packed lessons designed to do just that in our Holiday Game Plan, a self-study curriculum designed to help you be the boss of the holidays.

YHBTV! Sharon and I have started a weekly free webinar series called Your Handmade Business Television, where we take our monthly themes and topics and dive deeper, answering your questions and bringing in the occasional guest. Head over to our Crowdcast page to register for each month's video series.