A sneak peek from my new course

jhydegraphicSometimes, when there’s something you’re excited about, it can feel like you just go on and on about it – you can’t talk about it enough!

That’s how I feel about Progress not perfection, my upcoming supportive email programme.

Having run several e-courses in my previous life at notonthehighstreet.com, I knew I’d enjoy getting into my first independent course. But I didn’t realise I’d get so excited about delivering something that I know is going to help people during the busiest weeks of the year!

Because it’s a bit different, I wanted to give you a little sneak peek of what you can expect. The programme is very low-maintenance, with three emails pinging in a week, for you to take what you need (and definitely leave the rest!). There are fun playlists as well as practical coping tips. Plus registrants can get in touch for meltdown support (if needed). You can also opt in to getting my care packages in the post (weekly!) for extra fun and nice stuff.

If that already sounds wonderful, click here to sign up.

For a bit more detail on what you can expect, read on for a sample email that I’ll be sending out in week 1:


The theme for week 1 is productivity.

Being productive isn’t necessarily about doing as many things as possible in the shortest amount of time. It’s about focusing your energy on the most important things, staying focused on what’s possible and achievable, and delivering on your priorities.

For small businesses and especially creative people, productivity can feel elusive. It can also feel oppressive – that voice that says “you’re not doing enough” and “I can’t believe you’ve only made 150 of those, you said you were going to make 200”.

That’s the perfectionist and the critic all rolled into one!

So this week, I want to focus on some practices that will help you to be (and feel) more productive now and over the coming months.

What does good look like?

Start by identifying some clear, achievable guidelines for your work and priorities this week. This is lesson one in progress, not perfection – we want to find things that will feel like good achievements, not perfect or exhaustive or over-worked.

You might set yourself minimum targets for each day, giving yourself a clear cut-off. Then add on the “would be nice” and “if I’m feeling extra energetic” options.

For example, as a minimum each day, you want to respond to customer enquiries and get orders out that are due that day. It’d be nice if you could also schedule some social media posts and get a head start on tomorrow’s orders. If you’re feeling extra energetic, you’ll write next week’s email newsletter.

What tools do you need?

Productivity requires planning and support. If you simply try to work as hard as you can for as long as you can, you’ll burn out. A crucial activity for this week is to get yourself some tools and support in place to make sure you’re at optimum performance levels.

What can you delegate to someone else or find a tool for that will enable you to focus on the crucial things? Can someone else be in charge of cooking dinner? Is there a more effective system for your emails that means you don’t waste time reading non-urgent stuff?

There are simple things that allow you to delve into making, doing, and managing: having enough mugs so that you don’t have to wash up.

Set up a morning and evening routine

Routines aren’t just for kids! It can be incredibly reassuring to have things you do regularly in the morning and evening to ensure you’re checking all the essentials and making it easier for yourself to be productive.

A sample morning routine:

  • Wake at a reasonable hour, shower, and dress comfortably (and warmly)
  • Make tea, coffee and/or breakfast – nourishing yourself is the first step
  • Get the lights on, set up some fun or calming music
  • Go through the list of orders to dispatch today
  • Accept new orders and prioritise them
  • Assign tasks to staff
  • Check emails
  • Write your to do list with “minimum”, “would be nice” and “energetic” filters

And here are some ideas for an end-of-day routine:

  • Clear your inbox, filing away everything that’s dealt with, and leaving anything that needs picking up in the morning
  • Do a stock check or set a reminder to check in the morning
  • Clear your packing areas, desk and workspace – when you arrive back in the morning, you want to see a space that’s ready for action, not in need of a tidy up. Do something that your future self with thank you for!
  • Write yourself (or your team) any reminders so that they’re not looming over you while you’re trying to sleep – it’ll all still be there in the morning
  • When you’re finished, finish. Don’t faff around for another 20 minutes. Light a candle, start cooking dinner – find something that indicates to you that you’re now in evening mode.

You might also want to add in a routine for lunchtime, to give yourself even a tiny break. Whatever works for you! Remember: it’s about making things better, not making them perfect.

Sign up now

If you’re excited by this little sample, get over here and sign up! If you have any questions, get in touch. I’m very happy to answer anything you might be wondering!


Profit: how much is enough?

You know you’re making enough to pay the bills because, well, you’re paying the bills. But do you know whether you’re making a profit on each order? And how much is a good profit margin for a small creative business, anyway?

In this brave new world of online selling, especially for designer makers and small creative businesses, there isn’t much out there about what makes a good profit margin. It’s a bit like the salary question – not many people talk about it.

And just like when talking about salary, a “good” profit margin means different things to different people. Big enormous retailers, for example, look for 40% profit, if not 60-80%. There’s the widely known fact that popcorn is one of the most profitable products ever, with about 97% profit margin – the cost of corn and the heat to pop it being so small.

Anyway, for small creative businesses, I’m going to come out and say it: if you’re not making at least a 25% profit margin on each product, you need to increase your price or decrease your costs. Let me repeat that:

25% is a great minimum profit margin. Aim for that.

So how do you calculate profit?

In simple terms, profit is the total price the customer pays, minus all your raw materials, packaging, postage costs, commission charges, and – where applicable – VAT. I recommend doing this for every single product, so that you’re confident that you’re making a profit on each order.

For a more detailed spreadsheet and approach to calculating your pricing, register for Pricing for Profit (and Sanity!) here.

Other considerations

One of the things I feel really strongly about is adding in the cost of your time to your profit calculations. Even if you’re not paying yourself, and simply take profit as your payment, it’s really important to know whether your products themselves are profitable, with your time factored into the price. Checking this will ensure your profit is true profit, and it’ll help you to decide whether to employ someone – you’ll know how much their time should cost, and whether it’s worth it.

And there are other costs you’ll need to factor in beyond your per product costs, such as rent and bills. I prefer to do this after you’ve calculated the per product profitability – keeps it simple. So make sure you look at how many items you’ve sold this year, how many you’re likely to sell, and times that by your per product profit. Then take off your annual bills, rent and other costs, and see your final profit for the year.

Need more help?

Pricing and profitability are absolutely key to your business success. Check out Pricing For Profit to build skills for life.


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.