Running a business is a lot of work. And sometimes, it’s a lot of work with little reward. There are times when people ask me how my sales are doing, or how much money I am making, and I get that impending urge to lie (just a tad.) Stretch the truth, or, as some define white lies: omit certain truths. The need to justify the amount of time I spend running my business, along with the need to justify that I quit my secondary job in order to do so, is stronger than ever. With the bills piling high and the dishwasher breaking, AGAIN, I don’t just WANT to make extra money selling my handmade crap, I NEED to. It’s embarrassing to relate anything else when asked those probing questions.
It’s tempting to say “I made this much this month!” and give the gross amount, before fees, shipping costs, supply costs, etc. The latter, net amount is so much less impressive.
It’s not that I don’t have any grounds to brag about how awesome I am. Evidence suggests that I have gone from an Etsy D-lister to, quite possibly, a frikin fantastic C-lister! Sales HAVE increased, and so have net amounts made. Facebook fans have gone up (well beyond 500 likes now, thank you very much), twitter followers have expanded, and I’m nearing 200 blog followers. (Surprisingly, people enjoy reading this crap!) So it’s not like I’m a COMPLETE failure or anything. But my Aunt Becky (a totally made-up relative for the purpose of example) doesn’t care about those numbers. She wants to know HOW much I am making and IF that amount is impressive to HER or not.
Chances are, it wouldn’t be.
So what do I do? Do try to convince her of the growing success I am becoming, while avoiding her probing inquires for actual numbers? Or do I flat-out give her my numbers, and try to convince her that they are GOOD despite the look of utter disappointment that is sure to cross her face? My answer is: a mix of both. By comparing how well I USED to do versus how well I’m doing NOW, says I’m on the right track. I can easily compare how it took me almost THREE FREAKING MONTHS to get my first Etsy sale, and now I’m getting one almost every day. Granted, many of these sales are for $1.99 collage sheets or patterns that grant me pennies after listing and PayPal fees, but that’s beside the point. I’M SELLING. People are BUYING MY CRAP and that’s exciting, DAMMIT!
Even if, despite my reasoning and explaining, Aunt Becky still looks perplexed at why I would dedicate so much time in order to receive so little in return, at least I won’t allow her to bring me down. There is no need to lie about how successful (or unsuccessful) my business is going at the moment as long as there are still positive things to focus on. It’s by focusing on the things that are going well (and how I can make them KEEP going in that direction) that my business will continue to grow. Before I know it, I just might start selling enough to pay some bills down, or even, buy a new dishwasher. Until then… you can count on me to keep plug, plugging away.