Hi there! I’m Brenda from Phydelle and Phydeaux Designs, back with this week’s edition of Craft Venture! We talked last week about shaping up your shop after the holidays, kicking off our January series on cleaning up and making over our online shops. I planned to talk with you this week about Winter photography and styling; however, I wanted to take time this week to do a little debriefing from the holiday season while it’s still semi-fresh!
How was your holiday season? Did you do as well as you’d planned? Better? Not as well as you’d hoped? I’m a huge believer in spending time debriefing – discussing lessons learned and identifying opportunities for improvement for the next time around – after any big event.
I had big plans last Summer to have a full inventory by the end of September, and focus entirely on shipping during November and December. Due to a number of reasons, that didn’t happen, but I’ll aim for the same goal this year!
I am so glad I use Endicia for international shipping, and learned that it’s also handy for large priority flat rate boxes (which are not included in Paypal shipping). This made my holiday season so much easier!
I participated in my first craft fair the weekend before Christmas. I might not do that again (but I’m not making promises yet!). Not because it wasn’t successful, but because a big show and the holidays ended up being a lot. I would have preferred to focus on one, but not both.
But enough about me! Debriefing with a group is invaluable; however, debriefing at all is key! All you need to do is to walk yourself through your holiday season, asking objective questions about how you did. You could do a full SWOT analysis if you really want to go all out (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats), but for our purposes, just ask yourself the following:
What worked? What didn’t?
What will you do differently next year?
Which items were popular and why?
Which weren’t and why?
What did you learn from this holiday season?
What did you learn from your debrief process?
I learn a great deal from my mistakes – be sure to analyze both your successes and mistakes. Also, think about your lost opportunities. For instance, I really wanted all new packaging for the holidays, but simply ran out of time, resulting in the lost opportunity for invaluable feedback from customers giving my items as gifts.
Don’t only dwell on what you didn’t do or didn’t do well! What were your successes? Did you exceed your sales goals? Did you ship every order within 24 hours? Perhaps this was your first holiday season shipping internationally?
Also, celebrate your successes! We’re so busy as small business owners that we often don’t have time for self reflection or celebration. This is an opportunity to do both! Spend some time reflecting on both your holiday season, as well as all of 2009! Then celebrate your success!
Debriefing is a very powerful way to analyze your performance; however, you do need to actually act on what you learn. For instance, use your analysis to develop an early plan for the 2010 holiday season!
Do you already use debriefing as a business tool? What one thing do you think was most successful for you this past holiday season? Any surprises for you as you debriefed 2009? If you’re willing to share, what is one thing you’d like to do differently in 2010 as a result of your debrief?
Images: Hand-embroidered gift tags from Pink Mist Industry; Starburst kitchen towel from Humble; Cozy cardboard cottage decoration from 5 gardenias