Inspiration, motivation, lots of tea and coffee and a cat helper!
Running a small business based around creativity – crochet, yarn dyeing, pattern writing, video making and writing – sounds like such a lot of fun! But, of course, like any job, its work and it has its frustrations, boring bits and its own stresses and strains. During my reflections on May 2021, I’ve been thinking about the importance of motivation. How to nurture it as a small business owner. And particularly how just showing up, even if you don’t feel like it, is the most important thing to achieving the goals you’ve set yourself.
I’ve been working on two big projects this year so far. The first has been to set up e-commerce on my website, without the help of a developer. It was quite a steep learning curve but there are answers to questions online in various blogs, forums and help files and I have inched my way forwards, setting up the first shop listings for my advent calendar pre-orders. I’ve also designed a mandala and filmed a complete tutorial for it, starting with a short intro video, then three crochet tutorial videos, then the final blocking video.
The difference between motivation and inspiration
When I’ve been reflecting on May, I’ve been thinking about the difference between inspiration and motivation. For me, inspiration is the easy part. I have big ideas all the time and imagine how things will work, and what I want to aim for. The much more difficult part is taking action, starting the process but then, more important, keeping the motivation going to do the hard slog necessary to get to the end of the project.
There are strong parallels, I think, to the way we approach crochet and knitting projects. We know these are going to take weeks if not months – a crochet blanket, a knitted sweater, a huge shawl – and getting inspired to start is a doddle. The excitement of choosing a new pattern, the yarn to use, casting on or setting you your foundation rows… You are carried along on a wave of pure enthusiasm.
Any project can be enjoyable to do. One of the great goals in life is to take pleasure in the journey rather than only thinking about the destination, but it can become an uphill struggle. Just as many of my crochet blanket projects get about a third of the way there and then stall, a big work project such as setting up e-commerce can seem as if its never going to end.
Project 1: Setting up my webshop
One of the main problems I had with setting up my webshop was finding a way to calculate shipping worldwide, for different sized parcels. I struggled and struggled, and spent a lot of time researching and trying to do it within the software I had, but then discovered on one forum that there is a plug-in for that! I said to my son, who I moaned to regularly about the shipping nightmare, to just say to me in future: “Is there a plug-in for that?”
But even so, it wasn’t straightforward. I noticed a mistake in the way the plug-in worked, so contacted the developer and it turned out I was right. He was very good and did a new version so that was that problem solved. But what he hadn’t taken into account – and really, why would he? – was that parcels with yarn as squishable… So their actual physical dimensions don’t increase proportionally with their weight. Eventually we worked a way round that, but I literally have to put different dimensions in for one skein, two skeins, three skeins, and so on.
The challenge has been to set up listings with sweater quantities to allow more flexibility than Etsy offers and that will be coming very soon. I wanted to list the advent calendars first and make sure that the order process worked smoothly.
You can find out more about the Advent options and the theme for 2021 here:
Pre-orders will be open for a while yet, probably until mid July. Then I’ll start the dyeing process and plan all of my wrapping tasks so that international orders can go out in October and UK calendars can ship off in early November.
Project 2: The
Motivation Meditation Mandala Tutorials
The other big project I’ve achieved this month has been to finish and publish a series of five videos on how to crochet a mandala. Its quite an intricate one, but when you follow along step-by-step, its well within the skill set of anyone who can crochet a granny square. The link to the series playlist is here and you can also access it by clicking on the mandala image below! I also have posts on each of the videos – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.
This project has really taught me (again!) that its possible to achieve anything if you just keep showing up. Inspiration, then motivation, then finally its about just doing whatever you can to move forward. Just a little baby step or two on bad days, with bigger leaps on good days. And while its important to set deadlines and goals, with anything that’s creative, flexibility is really important too.
See you soon, Kathryn xxx