It's been one year since I proclaimed from the rooftops (well, my Tumblr page) that I was going to stop working on my business and to instead pursue designing and illustrating full time.
Reading through this post (which for some reason makes me cringe and want to delete it forever from the eyes of the internet) I can recall so vividly how burnt out, tired and quite dejected I was feeling about the whole thing. The 'tipping point' part of that whole post was true - something needed to change in order to for me to change how I felt.
12 months on, what can I tell you?
Well, I did not succeed in making this dream a total reality. I'm here to tell you today that I did not end up making not a particularly smart business / life / wellbeing decision that I only realised the other day.
And I feel so damn positive about the whole thing.
Genuinely, I have never been more ecstatic than realising I had made this mistake. I felt it in my entire body, this happy revelation, that I gave it a damn hard try, and no one can take that away from me. I slogged the year, I trialled and boy did I error. I made some monumental fuck ups, some of which are embarrassing and some of which are truly teachable moments.
Bathe in the glory of your fuck-ups, embarrassment and face-palm-worthy errors because these are your sign posts and slip roads to a new direction.
Some of you might be curious how I came to this state of delusional bliss where I seemingly lost my mind in the many fuck-ups and laughed? It's quite boring really - but I did some sales forecasting.
I kid you not - I spent two days (out of curiosity more than anything) making a detailed year on year comparison of my sales from 2013-2016, which I'll explain below. I've made a template of the model I created should you wish to embark on this mind-numbingly revelation-worthy task [NOTE: remember to save a copy of it, not input your information directly onto it, as it's a public Google Sheet and all your financial information will be shared with everyone which is not good].
The madness first started after reading this super helpful Etsy Blog article, to try and forecast Christmas sales for my shop. And when the results were tallied, all the information from each months revenue and number of sales input into my spreadsheet, I sat back and thought, damn, I underestimated the power of my wonderful little illustrated business.
So then I went off a tangent and I pulled up ALL my accounts for the same timeframe (2013-2016) and started inputting all my revenue information, month by month, year by year, to start painting a picture of what my year on year sales were like. I even went as far as to break this down into the each revenue stream, so I could get a better idea of where my money was coming from.
And when all of that was done, I sat back and looked at the cold hard evidence which only number crunching can give you - and I realised a number of things:
- I made decisions last year based on feelings and not on financial evidence.
- I did not appreciate what I had till I stopped doing it.
- I busted some serious ass this year, and although it wasn't my strongest from a money point of view, it's been the smartest I worked in a long time.
Who knew that all this meaning could come from something as mundane as sales forecasting? Admittedly there are heaps of businesses who do this every year, and are probably wondering why I never got on with this before, and you're right. I'm a little late to this smart financial forecasting party. But I'm here now and I'm loving it.
I'm geared up and I'm positive about where to take my illustrated business.
I'm excited to get back into making and designing products to sell. I can't wait to head out into the world again to meet my customers face to face at craft fairs and events. I'm looking forward to the thrill and the anxiety of launching new ranges and approaching stockists and being so fully immersed once more in the designer maker world.
It's been a learning curve this year working solely as a freelance illustrator whilst my shop took a bit of a backseat - and I've been so grateful for all the projects, commissions and opportunities that came my way. I've learned so much about how I work, function and thrive as an illustrator, and I'm excited to come back to normal business as it was pre 2016.
Most importantly however, the one thing I've learned that I feel you should take with you from this moment on after reading this: Embrace how much this may also be a fuck-up.
No great business ever grew or became the power-house they are without taking some wrong turns; trusting the wrong people, investing money in the wrong thing or even taking their business down a route that maybe wasn't such a good idea. Mistakes = progress and progress is better than sitting and waiting for it all to happen.
So before I leave you to go out into the world and embrace all your error-making ways, that only a human can do, I want to leave you with a profound quote from Amanda Palmer:
Read the full article that this quote was taken from, 'Vincent Van Gogh on Fear, Taking Risks, and How Making Inspired Mistakes Moves us Forward' by Brain Pickings and also take some time to watch this incredible interview with Grace Bonney, the owner of Design*Sponge, on Marie Forleo's blog entitled 'Overcoming Fear, Accepting Imperfection, and the Real Deal with Work Life Balance.'
Now I'd like to hear about your monumental fuck-ups that you're grateful for (if you have anything, perfect human) - leave them in the comments below or tweet them to me @deborahpanesar
Keep up the trial and error and don't be ashamed to shout about it.