I also had time to input all of my sales from the holiday season into Quickbooks, and obsess over all the numbers from 2012. This was a year of change, as I wrote about last spring. I began the year by skipping the Buyers Market trade show, and instead implementing a different plan for obtaining wholesale orders. My plan also included adding more retail art festivals to my schedule. I'm happy to report that it worked out great, on many levels. I was hoping my plan would yield 50% of 2011's wholesale orders. I ended up getting 65%. As for retail shows, I did eleven! Compared to six from the year before. OK, some of them were not great choices. But overall, I increased my retail sales by a healthy amount, over 30% more. My gross sales came very close to my 2011 gross sales. In terms of net profit, after I factor in the $3000 I saved by skipping the trade show, I came out way ahead.
Here's the best part ... I did not feel overworked! Yes, there were times when I felt very busy, but I never felt like I was out of gas. I even took two vacations this year. In 2010 and 2011, the wholesale workload was at times overwhelming. Sometimes I felt exhausted to the point of frustration, and trapped in what i call the "self-employed workaholic's dilemma" (we hate how much we have to work, but we're terrified the work will go away). I didn't want my pottery business to feel like that, and this was my motivation to make these changes.
All the additional festivals also forced me to change a lot about my festival display. It used to take me 3.5 hours to setup, now I can do it in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Basically, I just paid attention to the what was very time-consuming, or overly strenuous, or unwieldy, and eliminated them. Collapsible risers, gone. Replaced with low shelves with snap-together uprights. Floor mats, see-ya-later. Kraft paper roll dispenser, buh-bye. Folding wood director's chair that required a screwdriver to assemble, thanks for your years of service, you've been replaced. The display evolved throughout the year and I finally felt like it worked great during the November shows. Now I've got a really functional, efficient, and good-looking setup to use all of next year.
Gone are all of my symptoms of workaholism ... the pale skin, knotted muscles, and the vitamin D deficiency. Now I get plenty of rest, and I spend lots of time outdoors with my newfound passion for running. Not to mention, more running is another reason why I can get all my pottery work done without getting tired. Energy breeds energy. Balance breeds balance.
Since I don't really care about any of this Mayan calendar business, I am making plans for 2013. It's going to start with another major change. I did one graphic design project last January/February, which I've done for the last ten years or so. For 2013, I turned it down! Better yet, I recommended a friend to take over the account, and he got it. Win-win. 2013 will be my first 100% pottery year. I know I can do without the design project's income, but still I would like to parlay that time into improving the pottery business. Plans are brewing, involving both wholesale and retail. I'll write about them in more detail in the coming months. Some of them I'm still figuring out.
Happy and warm holidays to all the potters and pottery fans!