Today I am diving into the quandary of consistency in your handmade business. So elusive! What does “consistency” in business actually look like? What does it mean when we say we want more consistency? And why does it sometimes seem unattainable or frustrating to accomplish that at times?
There are several entrepreneurs in my family including my dad and myself – close contacts! And, obviously, I have pretty tight ties to the small business community through YOU, through our students, through our members, and through the business owners in the programs and masterminds I am in.
In short: I know a lot of self-employed people and I have heard a lot of stories.
what does consistency in business mean to you
We are ALL always looking for consistency in business, usually, that means sales but it could mean other things like subscribers or followers, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.
Is this achievable? I believe that is! BUT we have to work on what we REALLY mean when we say it. Like, truly define what we mean when we say we want consistency.
I’ve noticed that for many people, consistency only means one thing, which is a steady, upward trajectory of sales – month after month.
Let’s say a business like yours had 50 sales in April and 40 sales in May and 60 sales in June. Many people, in the moment, or in the middle of May would NOT regard that as consistent.
The commentary would be “my sales are down (compared to the month of April) — I wish my sales were more consistent.” Maybe even some worrying about that downturn. I know that’s how I would feel, too.
consistency doesn’t need to mean growth all the time
Consistency in your handmade business does not equate with growth all the time either. I can consistently see a downward trend, but that’s NEVER what anyone means when they say they want more consistency. So I think the language is important.
People really do equate consistency with MORE GROWTH. So let’s be more specific about what we mean when we say CONSISTENCY. I think that’s the first step, I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
I’ve been in business almost 11 years now and I’ve had zero consistency by the definition of “steady, upward trajectory of sales month after month.”
If we look at my business in three or four-month chunks – there is no ‘consistency.’ We might find ONE stretch of three months where EVERY MONTH there was a steady increase.
I feel like most people would NOT like that. I don’t either. But I prefer to look at it a bit more holistically.
If I ONLY look at ‘success’ as a day-to-day, week-to-week thing, I would feel like a failure more often than not. Because it is RARE to have consecutive days and weeks where it’s ALWAYS a run in the upward direction or even the same thing day after day.
If your ultimate goal is to grow – you should know that sales CAN vary and you can still be consistently growing. Up and down is normal.
If we look at my business over the course of 11 years, yes I have consistently seen upward growth overall, that’s great. But in the short term, that up and down feels jarring, like something is broken. Even today.
This is very consistent with what I’ve observed happens for my friends and family members who are also small business owners — consistency is happening LONG TERM but short term it’s not or at least it doesn’t feel like it because it’s not EVERY SINGLE MONTH.
Does that mean they aren’t successful? Of course not.
It’s almost like we don’t see the forest for the trees.
Even after all these years, I have to actively work through and really learn to understand and EXPECT variation and KNOW that it doesn’t mean the end of the world and it might never be 3 sales a day every day. That’s not the only way to measure growth or success.
If we give ourselves a more liberal and realistic view of consistency then we have the opportunity to celebrate and ‘succeed’ more often!
Consistency is too loose of a term for most of us to feel secure with.
You can have consistent 4 figure months in your business and still have inconsistency – 4 figures could be 1000 dollars it could be 7000 dollars. It could mean 100 sales the first week of the month and none the second.
In the end, we are probably happy with the result in revenue, but the lifestyle is a bit all over the place which is not ideal.
So how can we feel better about short-term inconsistency that DOES ultimately mean long-term consistency?
I think two things would be helpful here:
Redefining what consistency in your handmade business means to YOU personally and understanding actual data so you can set those goals and expectations accordingly. It is important that goals are realistic otherwise you set yourself up for failure.
Simply knowing that growth or sustainability in your business does NOT necessarily equate with short-term consistency is huge. It’s normal that things go up and down within a range but if your definition of consistency doesn’t account for that, you won’t feel good about it!!
It’s more normal to see fluctuation than it is to see upward growth every single month. But generally, knowing it’s normal doesn’t make it feel any better.
The longer you’ve been in business the longer that arc of consistency gets. For someone who has been in business for 4 months, consistency might apply to just one month, but for someone who’s been in business for 20years maybe they care more about 2 or 5 year cycles.
understand your data
The second thing is to look at your data!! I hate it, I hate looking at data, but it’s so important.
I’ve learned that FACTS matter more than feelings but feelings really impact how we move through each day.
So feeling better about it IS important. Understanding the FACTS is critical.
I believe that understanding the facts will help us to feel better and always suggest that people look at their business holistically!
Data includes things that happened IN and outside of your business. For example, you need to look at your stats through the lens of other relevant information. Like, 2020, JUST looking at the stats in your shop or your google analytics and bank info isn’t enough.
You need to bear in mind ALL that happened in 2020.
It’s impossible for every year to be comparable in every way. There are so many factors that impact how things go. It was VERY challenging in 2020 to use 2019 as a guide because the world was not the same. The world we were living in in 2020 was NOT the world we were living in in 2019 and in 2021, can we really compare to 2020? Can we compare it to 2019? It’s hard, right?
So the next time you catch yourself wishing for more consistency in your handmade business, find out what the REALLY means to you. What are you REALLY after? And what data can you use to create a realistic expectation or goal around THAT? because it’s not usually that we care so much if we fill one order a day every day or three orders a day every third day — it’s that we want to see growth, feel success or improve something specific in a certain way. Define that and you’ll be much better able to tackle consistency
Thanks so much for letting me share this with you! I hope it’s helped to bring more understanding to the elusive ‘consistency’ we all seek in business.