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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Creative business planning – putting it out there!

I’m probably the last crafter on the planet to have finally got hold of Kari Chapin’s Grow Your Handmade Business, but now that I have, it’s going to be a very well-thumbed copy! While I don’t go into too much detail about my working life here on the blog, I’m currently stuck (legally) in a work arrangement that’s not making me particularly happy. After years of working hard doing the corporate thing, it's my dream to make a living out of something more personal and creative.

I have a good idea of what I want that to look like, but I’m also very conscious that I won’t be able to make my specific dream a reality until this work situation resolves – which is another 236 days, 7 hours and 24 minutes away (yes, I'm counting!). Eleven months is a long time when you’ve put an idea out into the world that you can’t completely act on.

So, given this situation, and the fact that there are so many others out there in blogland slogging away at day jobs that make them unhappy – planning and working towards the day they can chuck it all in for a shot at a dream – I thought I’d take the time each month to be a bit of a case study in starting your own creative business – hopefully a positive one, and not a cautionary tale!

I’ll use Kari’s book as a template and I’ll try to be as open as possible about the details, as well as what’s worked for me and what hasn’t. There is a lot to cover in the book, and obviously it won’t all be relevant to me just now, but the things that stood out immediately were:

Vision and goals

My intention is to be self-employed from January 2015. Grow Your Handmade Business (GYHB) has some really good exercises around intention and purpose, and as I imagined my perfect work day it really helped clarify what I need to do to get there. 

TASK FOR THE MONTH – Complete the exercises on mission and firm up my short term goals.


My brand is working well for me on Instagram, but not so much here on the blog. I know what’s wrong with it – the blog is a much more detailed expression of my intention, and at the moment that’s not really visible.

TASK FOR THE MONTH – Write a staged plan to refresh the blog.

Support team

I’m very lucky that my current boss is also my mentor (go figure!). Kari places quite a lot of emphasis on mentors and even suggests setting up a personal board of directors. I really like that idea, even in an informal sense. It’s made me realise that I should start using my current boss where he can add most value – in the areas of finance and big-picture thinking.

TASK FOR THE MONTH – Meeting with my boss to discuss change of mentoring focus.


I've been self-employed twice before... And both times it was pretty much a disaster. No capital to start, moved to new towns both times – so no existing relationships to draw on – and I was working at something I wasn't passionate about. It's my cut-and-run habit. I'm in a rut, I hate the job I'm in, I'm burnt out etc, so I cut and run. I'm truly hoping I'm older and wiser this time.

For starters, I can't cut and run, so there's plenty of time to plan this properly. I have moved to a new town again though (geez what's wrong with me?), but in my defence I've moved to Melbourne which has many more opportunities for crafters and textile workers – so more like-minded souls – and also has the only textiles course in the country, which I've been exploring. I have capital this time – yay! And, most importantly, I've been passionate about making, textiles and colour for as long as I can remember.

In terms of the capital, I haven't won the lottery, but I have got a nest egg to get me started. With that comes responsibility – to plan well and make the most of this opportunity, but also to make sure that if things are going wrong I recognise the signs and act. 

TASK FOR THE MONTH – Start a basic financial plan.

This all sounds utterly enormous right now. I haven't even touched on production, legalities, time management etc. Let's just hope these guys are wrong with their study claiming that if you make intentions public you're less likely to achieve them.

I'll check back in with a business planning update next month and let you know how I'm going. Wish me luck!

Anyone else out there on a similar journey?
How did you get started?
Did you juggle paid employment and your own business in the beginning, or did you jump right in?


  1. Love the honesty Tara - very brave. I also love the story so far, some great detail. I look forward to following your journey and being further inspired with the aim to possibly do my own thing in the future. It does seem slightly overwhelming - but I am a big believer in chuncking things down to make the big goal achievable ... "nothing ventured nothing gained" - which is exactly what you seem to be doing.

    1. Thanks for the support Stace! In some ways next year seems like such a long time away (probably the eight hours sitting at a desk each day part), but in other ways it seems like a very short time when there's so much to plan.