Last week, when I finally realized that we are well past the midpoint of the year (isn’t that crazy?), I revisited a list of goals that I’d written down for Fairy Tree Studios for 2020. This is apparently a thing that businesses should do, instead of just kind of flying where their whims take them, which is what I’d pretty much been doing up to that point. (One of the courses I’m taking online talks about creating a five-year plan. Five whole years’ worth of plans! I don’t feel like I’m quite ready to do that yet — the best I have for that far out are some vague ideas).
On my list, I had some overall revenue and engagement goals, of course, along with some more specific benchmarks for 4, 8, and 12 weeks out — I intended to finish (or at least start) mapping out goals for the rest of the year in those four-week increments, but 12 weeks was as far as I got before COVID pretty much sidelined everything. I had project development ideas and timelines, and also things like renting vendor space at a storefront, teaching workshops, and selling at some art/craft shows (because what a great excuse to travel, right?). With the pandemic and especially the shelter-in-place order, I had to pivot a lot, obviously, and I am especially thankful that I did so much work building a web presence early on, since that’s where Fairy Tree Studios has existed almost exclusively for the last few months.
Anyway, in looking over my old list, I realized there were a couple of back-end things I could actually do now, including getting my EIN (employee ID number) and filing my DBA (“doing business as,” necessary since my business name isn’t the same as my legal name). Despite being overseen by the federal government, the EIN process was surprisingly painless — since it was my first application, I was able to fill out a form online and have the number within a few minutes. The DBA was weirdly more complicated, thanks to the fact that the instructions on the form were slightly vague, and the fact that I had to get it notarized. Not many places are very transparent about whether they offer a notary, but I’ve since learned that most banks, including mine, do it for free for their customers. After making several calls to both my banking branch and the township assessor’s office and getting no answer from either, I just showed up at my bank with my form and was able to get it notarized right at the counter by a teller within a few minutes.
I realize this information is probably more detail than most people need, especially if you’re not trying to start a business for the first time, so to sum it up, these are a couple of steps that will give me more options for selling art in person both locally (most of our local markets and festivals require an EIN and a state ID number) and nationally (via other states’ art and craft shows).
Other goals on my new list include finishing some business-related courses (so I know what I still need to do to become “legit”) and finding some additional resources. I am happy to say that despite everything, I did already meet some of my original goals. Others need more revision, including a product line that is not really relevant at the moment, though I may revisit it later. I also managed to take one idea I had for the future, my “paint it yourself” kit, and develop that sooner. I just listed my second floral kit on Etsy last week as well, and the plants from a couple posts ago are ready to be listed next. And FINALLY (it was a busy week!) I got in prints of several more of the paintings I did this spring, and I ordered a new size in my crystal stickers, which I’m going to list as variety packs. So, while it’s not necessarily the direction I originally envisioned myself moving in, I do feel like I’m gaining momentum again.
If you do run a business, have you had to pivot in the wake of COVID-19? Have you managed to do so successfully? What suggestions do you have based on what worked (or didn’t work) for you?