I took a few days off over the Christmas break to reflect on the past year. Last year saw some massive changes for us with the birth of our first child. Parenthood is great but it’s also f*ck*ing hard work. I think I approached it a bit naively, as many first-time parents probably do, and it kind of came back to bite me.
Without a solid plan in place for Mr. Draper, I found myself tired and burnt out over the last half of the year, and just lacking motivation. As a small business, you need to consistently market and sell yourself and your products. This is difficult when you are really, really tired and just not feeling it. That’s why having a plan to fall back on is important. As was drilled into us in the military, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Somehow, I also started comparing myself to other linen brands, which wasn't helpful. (It’s funny how we look for ways to kick ourselves when we’re down.) I’ve very consciously done my own thing in the past and it’s important to me that I continue that way. Decisions should be based from the heart and head without the influence of what the pack is doing.
The Mr. Draper difference
We need to use our moral compasses more and industry norms less. I’m also a very different business – as is my business model – to most of the other online linen brands. I’m a tiny business, based in the bush. I have next to no fixed costs, but also have stuff-all capital, and absolutely no intention of going into debt to get it.
I don’t overstock and then have crazy sales. I don’t wholesale. I run super-lean and don’t create waste. Everything is used. I buy the best raw materials I can find. Sometimes products sell out and cash flow doesn’t allow instant reordering. But that’s OK. Time to get creative with what I have on hand.
Anyway, I took some time out to reassess and understand what I'm doing, and I'm feeling refreshed and re-energised. It’s amazing what even a few days of brainstorming and thinking can do; removing myself from the busy work to tackle some of the bigger questions. I used a set of questions from the Design Files email newsletter by Fiona Killackey, of My Daily Business Coach, as a starting point. Check out her work here and here.
After a bit of brainstorming, I started to realise that a bunch of the problems and barriers I thought existed were actually self-imposed. I can’t do X because I don’t have Y. Rubbish! There is always a different path.
It’s not all back-patting and high fives, though. I need to understand the things I can let slip and what I need to work on. A big one for me, as an online business, is photography. I didn’t do a photo shoot at all last year, and some of my imagery doesn’t capture the awesomeness that is my linen. It’s my job to be able to communicate my brand and product to my people – and I’ve let that slide. Getting that right is a priority over the coming months. Lucky for me I have a dream location just around the corner at Butterland…