The Big New Idea: design starts this week!

BIG NEW IDEA: design starts this weekAh, this Big New Idea continues to take up a lot of my brain space! I switch quickly between thinking big and long term to thinking small and detailed. Such is my way of working.

Here’s what I’ve been working on over the past week-and-a-bit:

  • Branding. After getting in touch with various designers and running into timing conflicts and fear of the unknown, I’ve come back to working with Evan at Sixteen July (who designed this site and who is awesome). She starts design work TODAY! I have, of course, created a Pinterest board of visual references. If you love that kind of thing and want to see how it will transform into a logo and brand style, check out the board here.
  • Schedule. I’m aiming to launch the website and the business at the beginning of July. Originally, I was thinking June, but I have other commitments (read: I’m going away for a week) that just made it unrealistic. Before the launch, I’ll be running a trial photoshoot with my team here in Cambridge so that we can practice working together, and hopefully get some awesome content to share on the website.
  • Pricing. I’ve been playing with the numbers to figure out what I’ll need to charge to make this work for me and my team, as well as keeping it affordable for the customer. I want tiny one-person businesses to be able to get high quality photography and copy, as well as making it accessible to bigger businesses who want to send us their entire range. I’m a big believer in getting feedback when you offer your product, so I’m only asking for feedback from a select number of clients before launch. (Rather than asking, “How much would you pay for this?”, it’s much more effective to actually put the product out there with a price tag and see how many people buy it. When people theorise about how much they’d spend on something, it isn’t always true to their behaviour.)
  • Team. Oh, the team. So much of the success of Big New Idea will rely on the team. I have a little mini team for our trial, which I’m really excited about, but I’m also continuing to build local connections in Cambridge, especially for photographers. (If that’s you, email me.) I’ve been thinking loads about how I can scale up the team quickly, and about the leap of faith I’ll need to make to do this. Flexibility is awesome, but I’m also going to need to offer and ask for commitment if demand is high.
  • Process. I’m fairly obsessed with process, and this is very much a work in progress. A real foundation for this business will be efficiency and professionalism, so I’m working on ways to get product lists, contact details, notes and shooting schedules set up to provide my team and clients with clarity. Picture big scribbly diagrams, post its, and spreadsheets as I work on this!
  • Trial shoot. I have a lovely bunch of clients who have offered up their products for the trial shoot, and they’ll be getting emails from me this week. I’ll be planning each shot with my team so that we’re building in quality from the start.

I’ve also been thinking about the balance of my Big New Idea with my existing business. Because mentoring clients one-on-one, running retreats, creating courses, and leading workshops is really what I want to be doing. I love it. That’s why I started my business. It’s so important to me!

But right now, I can’t do more than keep with my existing clients while I set up this business. It wouldn’t be fair (or possible) to take on new mentoring clients because I wouldn’t be able to give them my full attention. That’s a hard decision, for me. But I have some exciting plans for when the Big New Idea is off the ground to create Jenny Hyde Mentoring 2.0! So patience is the key…

This decision – to pause mentoring while I set up something new and complementary – is also tricky from a financial point of view. This month and next month won’t bring in the cash flow I usually expect and aim for, PLUS I’m spending money on a website and props and other investment stuff. “Hold your nerve” is my mantra right now. It ain’t easy.

So, that’s the update from me! If you have any questions or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.

Jenny x

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Here's the thing: think long-term for Christmas

Think long-term this ChristmasIt’s a funny time of year, November.

You might be finding, like several of my clients, that Christmas sales are slow so far, that Christmas is following a pattern of getting later each year. That, perhaps, customers are now expecting Black Friday in all its dark, looming glory.

I remember saying, back in April, that it’s still possible to launch great products, talk about them, and sell them for Christmas, without all the forward planning that’s expected and primed by journalists and bigger companies. I still believe that, though time is kind of at its last now. (Translation: if you want to sell something for Christmas, you should probably have it live and finished now.)

In that post from earlier in the year, and with much of my work, I aim to help clients and readers juggle priorities, often between short-term, deal-with-it-right-now, get-the-sales-in stuff and long-term stuff of dreams. I often talk about the difference between urgent and important (more on this below), which we tend to muddle up in the day to day.

At Christmas, over the coming weeks, it usually becomes purely about the short-term. It’s time to just get the orders out, just keep on top of stock levels, just make and sell – no long-term planning, nothing particularly strategic, save for the odd strategic coffee run.

I get that, and I encourage it. Please avoid trying to write your five year business planning in the next eight weeks!


(You knew there was a but coming, right?)

But, I do truly encourage you to keep a little notebook to hand, or a spreadsheet open, to make a note of the things that happen each day during the Christmas sales period. A place to write down how sales are going, how many hours your and your staff did that day, how your stock levels are going, whether you were featured, whether you ran out of anything or encountered any disasters (from staff being sick to the postman turning up late to running out of printer ink).

Keeping records like this, making notes of the learnings as they happen, will help you to dissect more accurately what went well and what didn’t at Christmas. Past experience helps us to anticipate future experience, and knowing what you could do differently next year will help you infinitely.

I posted a little note about this of Facebook earlier in the week, and Betsy Benn made herself a snazzy notebook, which I’m sure she’d happily share, should you wish:

After @jenny_hyde post yesterday I made me one of these! Let me know if you’d like one!

A photo posted by Betsy Benn (@betsybenn) on


Here’s the thing:

Yes, get completely stuck into the day to day over Christmas. Focus purely on orders and keeping going.

But, out of the corner of one eye, in a little space in your heart, know that there is a whole future beyond Christmas that’s worth a little of your time.

Think of keeping notes as a way of sending messages to your future self. (You can pretend to be in Back To The Future if it helps…) “Ran out of wrapping paper.” “Supplier not picking up, and extended lead times.” “Staff member sick, so calling in the cavalry (mum).”

Whatever your experiences are, you’ll appreciate being able to read them back in black and white after Christmas, so that you can remember them accurately and make plans based on facts, as well as feelings.

A little note on urgent and important:

  • Take a black page or piece of paper
  • Divide it into four quarters
  • Across the top, mark the columns as ‘urgent’ and ‘not urgent’
  • Down the right hand side, mark the rows as ‘important’ and ‘not important’
  • You now have four segments to fit your to do list into:
    • urgent and important
    • urgent, not important (like replying to a Facebook message, or dealing with a sales call – it’s happening right now, but it’s not helping your business)
    • important, not urgent (all the things that are going to make a difference to your business, but fall to them bottom of the list)
    • not urgent and not important (most social media, or piddling about)

We tend to get caught up in what’s important, but the wiser businesswoman shifts her gaze to what’s important, and not urgent, because that is usually where the most value lies.

Wherever you’re at, whatever your Christmas plans, I wish you all the best in the coming weeks. I’ll be here, should you stumble or need a clear thought. And I hope you keep track of what you’re up to.


Here's the thing: making lives better

making lives betterI work with a lot of people who make and sell products intended to make people’s lives better. Not in a ‘this piece of technology will change your life’ way, but in a ‘this will bring you happiness, connection and joy’ way.

I’m proud to work with people who make these kinds of products. Making lives better is a core value and intention of mine, so I feel good about it.

I’m proud to work with designers and makers who think about what people are going to enjoy and get out of, say, a new print or candlestick or photo album.

I’m proud to work with people who are innovative in creating heart-led products, like Gabrielle’s Date Jars, which are designed to encourage more quality time with your partner.

As small businesses, we’re positioned beautifully to make a difference in people’s lives. Yes, big corporations make big differences (and sometimes bigger differences), but I believe small businesses can make it more meaningful.

You can brighten someone’s day with a kind word, a lovely product, a well-placed thank you.

You can help people to express themselves with a product you’ve made.

You can process an order quickly (and thoughtfully) for an auntie who’s left it late to buy her niece a birthday present. (Thanks Twinkle Shimmer Shine!)

As I write, I wonder whether it would be helpful for you to reflect on how your products and your business make people’s lives better? I wonder whether it’s worth sense-checking your understanding of the meaning and the quality of your products?

Because I see a lot of things that don’t hold much meaning, and I find it draining. That quick-sell, put-an-initial-on-it giftware that will sell because it’s a gift, but will the recipient really love it in the end? Or is it just a stocking filler to be thrown away on Boxing Day?

You can make people’s lives better with thoughtful, high-quality products. Go for the heart.

(Note: I know there will be people reading who will now worry that I’m talking about their products, and worrying that they’re not meaningful. I think the fact you’re even worrying about that means you’re probably okay!)

Here’s the thing:

You have an opportunity to make people’s lives better, to make your own life better. I believe you can do this through creating products that spark joy, that have meaning, that say something – even if it’s quiet and small.

Among all the ‘do this’, ‘commercially viable’, ‘latest trend’ advice out there, I need to tell you that it might be as simple as asking yourself these back-to-basics questions:

  • Does this product feel really good?
  • What would make it feel even better?
  • Who is going to feel really good about this product?
  • How is my life improved by this product? (That’s a question for what you buy as well as what you sell)

I know we’re heading into the busiest time of the year, and this is a fairly big theme to consider when you’re quite possibly very busy. My hope is that you’ll see Christmas as an opportunity to make lives better, and that you’ll also think about making your own life better over the coming weeks.


PS I’ll be opening up Progress, not perfection next week for another year of supportive, encouraging emails for this Christmas season. Get a sneak peek here.


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.