This article has been kindly contributed by Lettie Pringle a Scottish expert in soap making from Bubble Trouble Soap.
Like many soapers Bubble Trouble is a part time business that we run in the evenings, weekends and any other spare time we get, through the week I work. An important part of running a soap making company is the business side of things, which many of us find laborious, I know. However, it is a very important part of making yourself successful in today’s market. I have taken some inspiration from things I do at my day job and incorporated into what we do at Bubble Trouble; things such as ‘reflection time’. We usually carry this out annually but reflection can be done at any time, be it the new year, end of financial year, quarterly or even after a big order.
It sounds simple, and I remember thinking this when someone raised it at a meeting, that we need to reflect on what we did in the previous year. In today’s world, we are so busy we never make time to reflect on what we did well, what we didn’t do well and what we could do better.
This was like a lightbulb moment for me, it makes so much sense to just stop and think. This way we can improve our outcome by not repeating mistakes, learning and just basically doing things better than done previously and continuously improve. We all want to be the best we can be, whether a beginner or an experienced soaper.
Now stopping and thinking sounds easy, but I tell you what – it is not! You may find yourself procrastinating (I am the master at this!); finding that there are orders in that you need to do, social media demands your attention, websites need updating, soaps need to be designed and made – the list goes on and on!
So it is all very well to sit and think, but this is about thinking with a purpose. I could quite happily sit and day dream about soap all day without a care in the world, but it would not be productive by any manner or means. This is about setting out a spreadsheet or handwritten chart where you list the following:
-What we did well
-What we did not do well
-What we could have done better
From these 3 questions, you can then focus your attention on how to improve your business and build an action plan. Even for the things you have done well, there is always an opportunity for improvement as you can see from our example below. You then repeat these steps for what you did not do well and what you could have done better. This will assist you in building an action plan (basically it is a ‘to do’ list) for the coming year. A bit of brain power is needed, so I recommend somewhere quiet where you will not be disturbed! If you are like me, this is easier said than done, especially when you have kids and animals to contend with!
An action plan gives you goals to aim for. What I did forget to put on the example above is when the actions are to be completed by. This gives you the date to aim for to get each action completed. It can be a simple action or something more complex. This is up to you, this action plan is for your eyes only so make sure you understand it!
Bubble Trouble has an annual plan, like above but we also have a longer plan, where we want to be in 5 years and how we are going to get there. We have added milestones that we want to reach within a year, 2 years, 3 years and so on. This keeps our long term goals alive. We have this pinned up right above our computer so we can always look at it for inspiration and motivation, but would also work on a chalk board or white board in a soap room. For example, our 5 year plan is to be earning enough income that we can run the business full time without changing the lifestyle we have currently. Often, like many I am sure, I worry that this may be just a dream that will never come to fruition, but if we don’t work towards it, we will never know.
I am a great believer in motivational quotes, and I will leave you with the one I find motivates me the most. In one of my favourite Disney films, Pinnocchio, Jiminy Cricket says “If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?” Very wise words from a cricket.