Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time Management for Small Businesses


As indie business owners, one of the elements most of us struggle with is time management. It can be so difficult, especially when we probably most enjoy the "making" of our goods.  And I know that I can also become consumed in various aspects of my business, wanting to pretend I'm "marketing."

I say “pretend I’m marketing” because while it’s imporant for a business owner who relies upon social media strategies to market our products, it’s also extremely easy to be pulled into the Internet, becoming a “computer potato.”  Sound familiar?

So these are the times I return to my good ol’ college textbooks for guidance.

Several marketing strategies are defined, and intuitively we gravitate to one or another without being strategic in our thought:
§  Product Leadership - being the best in our field...think Google for search engines. 
§  Concentrated Growth - resources are directed to the growth of a single product, in a single market with a single strategy.
§  Market Development - opening additional geographic markets or market segments. E.g., for social media, expanding into another online marketing venue; advertising in a new media.
§  Product Development - modifying an existing product for a new market. For example, Philadelphia Cream Cheese broadening into flavored cream cheese products and cooking ingredients.
§  Innovation - developing a new product or service. Apple created few new products or services of their own, but they took the concepts to new mass markets.
§  Horizontal Integration - acquiring product lines in the same stage as yours. For example, jewelers specializing in earrings begin to develop necklaces and watches.
§  Vertical Integration - acquiring vendors or suppliers for sales growth. Many Etsy vendors begin to sell supplies as a way to increase their revenue.

While basic and certainly not exclusive, this should give us a few examples of how to increase our business.  Many of you may doing some of these strategies already.

If you create bracelets, are you also creating and selling watches?  Horizontal Integration.

If you create necklaces, are you selling supplies you no longer need? Vertical Integration.

For myself, I've expanded my product line about as full as I can go with horizontal integration in simply the candle market.  I have three options for container candles, tea lights, then I moved into votives, then naturally into candle tarts. My horizontal integration is the home fragrance market, as I recently expanded into reed diffusers and other air freshener products.

So what's next?

Unless I add more fragrances (product development), I will need to explore other opportunities for growth.  While I realize Etsy is an extremely competitive market for home fragrances, I prefer not to venture into other online opportunities (market development). I believe social media can only handle one marketplace and prefer to direct these efforts to one online shop. I do explore market development by trying to land my products into bricks and mortar retail environments and personalized products with event planners.

So, this is a sample of the internal dialogue I have when looking for business opportunities and growth.  If you don't have a business background, I recommend you do some simple online research to learn how best you can grow your business as well.

Happy sales!

Written By:  DLitesbyDorene


  1. Great info, Darlene ... thanks for penning this article!

  2. Very interesting information! I really need to work on my business.. I have spread out too far and need to bring myself back in to be able to market my product better.

  3. I wrestle with this all the time. It's always good for us to focus on what really matters....

  4. Thanks Dorene for guest writing for our team blog!!! This is very informative, something all small businesses need to be aware of :)

  5. This really gets the wheels turning! Thanks for such a wonderful, informative post Dorene :)

  6. Wonderful advice. I'm guilty of the shotgun approach to products. I'm thinking of eliminating a couple of lines. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Great post - lots to think about here! Thanks!

  8. I've found the shop I promote gets the most sales and attention. It's so easy to get spread too thin! Lots to ponder!

  9. Lots of great tips & advice... Like the idea of selling off unwanted supplies, its something I am was already thinking of doing but you always think I may use them at sometime. We can't afford to be horders not if we want to keep in stock the latest trending designs.

  10. Great tips, very important and what every seller ought to know. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  11. Thanks for the information. Something to think about.

  12. Dorene, terrific information. Thanks for the post. I'm starting to sell off unused gemstones.

  13. What a great article and thanks so much for all the inspiring information! I've already been doing some horizontal marketing, but need to also start thinking vertical! *Ü*

  14. Great post. I still have a bunch of supplies I haven't figured out how to incorporate yet and not sure if I want to sell them :/


  15. Hi thanks for sharing the information.

  16. Yes, it's just that important. And not only for business but in life in general, everything that requires hard work, you'll need some serious time management skills to really succeed in your particular field.

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