This week's Freebie Friday is a Tinseltown Journal Kit - perfect for making your own little 6 x " Christmas album!
You can download this weeks freebie over on my website right here
If I can be a little bit cheeky this week too please - the votes close soon for the business awards I've been shortlisted for - your vote could make all the difference! There are no forms to fill out or anything (unless you don't have Facebook) just one click - please! Just click here to vote for me - thank you!! I'd love to see what you do with yours - leave me your blog links in the comments if you'd like to share :o)
Today I realised that in the last few days, with so much going on here at Hurley HQ, we had been so busy that we missed two very important milestones!!
Firstly, a few days ago marked four years since I launched my business with my first two products and just £40 left in the bank, I was absolutely terrified but had nothing left to lose, how much has changed since then!
Secondly, yesterday was the one year anniversary of Lisa's first day at Hurley HQ! As she is off on holiday and not here to celebrate with cake, I've eaten her chocolate marshmallows with my afternoon cuppa instead! ;o)
Today I've been asked to take part in the Sonny Angel Big Reveal to celebrate ten years of Sonny Angel! They have teamed up with Laduree (yum) to create this cute patisserie collection of collectable dolls and this is your chance to win one...
A number of bloggers were all sent a Sonny Angel doll that we opened this morning at 11am in a live #bigreveal over on Twitter. I got mine last week so it was really difficult to resist the temptation of opening him!! These is the full range of what I could have had - there were 2 I really REALLY wanted...
Luckily, I got one of them!!
Isn't he cute??
a couple of close ups...
Now you can win your very own Sonny Angel Doll! To enter just leave a comment below - you have until Sunday 26th at midnight GMT - we will draw a winner next week (please note that due to the rules of the PR company running the competition I will only be able to select a UK winner) If you simply can't wait to see if you're a winner you can get hold of Sonny Angel dolls at Kind Toys.
You can see more Sonny Angel Big Reveal posts from the other bloggers over on Twitter using the hashtag #bigreveal
I'm guessing you've probably read the title of this post and though, "huh??? is she having a meltdown?" erm... no, no I'm not, but what I have had, over the past few weeks / months / years, is clarity and today I want to share why in the hope it may help some of you reach your clarity too!
So, the story starts a few weeks ago (though probably before that - this is really the last straw moment) I was at a business function and I had the opportunity to meet another business person who I had admired for some time. As I chatted to this person the realisation hit me that I actually didn't like them and I certainly didn't admire them any more, the way they spoke to me made me feel smaller and smaller and smaller until on the way home I actually felt so rotten I could cry.
Once I'd got past feeling upset, I started to get angry, how dare they speak to me like that and make me feel that way! B pointed out to me that maybe this person felt threatened, insecure, so tried to make me feel that way in return - you'll often find the people that try to hurt you or make you feel small are actually feeling insecure themselves and use this as a way to make themselves feel better - it doesn't work.
It was really, right at that moment, that I realised, I couldn't care less. I didn't care if that person liked me or not, if they thought I had done a good job or not, if they understood what I had achieved or not, it didn't matter, because I was happy with all of that, if they don't get it, thats their loss. My achievements speak for themselves. I'm happy.
At the beginning of my business, though I didn't realise it at the time, I was actually in a very strong place, because I had nothing, therefore I had nothing to lose - it's a powerful thing. A year or so in, I lost my power, I started to want people to like me instead of focusing on my business goals - I thought I could never get my product range started without a manufacturer / distributor backing me (I did!) or that if a certain company didn't like me I was doomed to fail (not the case!) I found myself backing down in meetings, accepting things I didn't really want to happen, because I wanted the approval of other people. I wanted to make the haters like me, make people stop underestimating me and take me seriously - I wish I could go back and give myself a good shake quite honestly! Instead of focusing on that, I should have been focusing on my goals and where my business was headed.
So, almost four years on, the last year or two with absolutely the right focus on what I want to achieve and with sheer hard work and determination, my business has grown amazingly beyond what I dreamed! I get to work with those people who actually looked at what I could do and what I had achieved and what I was capable of doing, those people who believed in me, listened to me, took me seriously (they're awesome!) my business is still growing month on month and all I'll say for the future is watch this space!!
I still get people underestimate me - but now I use that to motivate me and the right ones believe in me, the right ones see what Ive achieved and know if I say I'm going to do something, it's best to get prepared because that's exactly what's going to happen! I don't need the approval of anyone else except my team, my customers / readers / viewers and my clients and they are all 100% behind me (that includes you by the way, you rock!) and the best thing is, since I decided I couldn't care less, since I let go of all of that stuff, better doors have opened, more of the right people have come my way, more of the good stuff thats right for me is happening and it feels wonderful, because it's not forced, I'm not fighting for it (I'm working damn hard for it, but not fighting, theres a difference!)
So, my lesson from this, which I hope you'll take away, is never let anyone else make you feel small, be proud of what you've achieved ALWAYS - some people go faster, some people go slower, some people are aiming for different things, thats OK. Just because someone has a bigger business / car / house etc... than you doesn't mean they are more successful - if you're doing exactly what you want, when you want with you who you want and ticking off the things on your goal list, you're just as successful, maybe even more so! Success is different for everyone. If you work hard and keep going in the direction of your dreams then great things can happen and if anyone underestimates you, don't let them make you feel small, smile to yourself, think 'I couldn't care less!' and move forward with grace and dignity and show them how it's done!
Thank you for dropping by today
p.s. don't forget to vote for me in the Spirit of Small Business Awards, click here to vote - every single vote counts and makes a difference, THANK YOU!! p.p.s please feel free to download the quote above to use as your screensaver / wallpaper etc... we all need some daily motivation!
So today I can share some BIG news with you, I'm so excited to announce that a couple of weeks ago I was told I had won the Kalixa Pro Spirit of Small Business Award as the best sole trader! I popped off to London last week to collect my lovely award...
and today, there is a big feature in the Daily Mirror on all of the award winners...
So this is where I'd be SUPER grateful for your help - all of the 12 category finalists now go forward to a public vote to win the overall outstanding Small Business of the Year award and a massive £10,000 prize! I can't tell you how much this would mean to me - it seems bizarre that less than 4 years ago I had just £40 and an idea, a dream, that I could create things that would make people happy, make them want to create things too, that I could make award winning toys that children love and that help them to learn and use their imagination, that I could write stories and books, appear on TV and inspire people to craft and discover things that they are good at. I never imagined I would have over 600 products at this point, sold in lots of lovely places around the world, that I would be on the board of directors for CHA UK helping to build the industry and help other people like me who wanted to make something happen for themselves, that I would be able to employ people (I couldn't even find myself a job back then!!) and mentor other small businesses and watch them flourish and grow and yet just 4 years later here I am! I'm totally thrilled to win this one as it's the first award for me personally (others I've won have been for my products - which of course I love too!!) so I hope you'll spare just a minute to click here and vote for me!
Today I want to talk a bit about Business relationships, I'm often asked how to find clients, work with clients or deal with difficult situations, so here is my advice...
Like any other relationship, business relationships should be a partnership. This can be tricky when you're starting out, trying to impress or make connections and you desperately want to prove yourself and get a foot in the door, often you'll find yourself agreeing to crazy things just to get a 'yes' from that client you desperately want to secure "20,000? in a week? at cost price? oh go on then!" yup... been there! In the end, is it worth it? no! Set boundaries, work in a fair time, for a fair price (this isn't always money - I'll come to this later!) and make sure you get at least some of what you want out of it (compromise is fine, backing down is not, don't lose yourself) - also be realistic, if you don't get everything done in that time and let that client down, thats the last you'll see of them! Someone I admire in business told me that despite being offered a pretty big deal at the start of their business, one they really wanted, they turned it down but stayed in touch with that company, when they were properly ready they were on good terms with that client and had an impressive track record to be able to negotiate what they really wanted - win / win!
If you walk away feeling like you've been shortchanged, resentment will set in, you won't do your best work and the relationship will become difficult. It's also very difficult to negotiate up again once you've agreed to work under crazy conditions - why would they pay you more or give you more time when you've shown you can do it in less time cheaper?
It goes both ways...
When you're more established, don't push relationships from the other side squeezing people for every last penny or second you can - it will only create bad feeling and fraught relationships. I know some management styles are the very bossy / pushy / lead by fear ones and maybe that works for some in the short term (though it never has for me, I've always left any job / client / supplier that has made me feel like that) I find from my own experience the best way to develop relationships is on an equal footing, my team are fully part of the company and we work together, no suggestion is too small to listen to, we all learn every day - never make the mistake of thinking you're too good / important / busy - to talk or listen to someone, I promise you, you aren't, no one is! Over the last few years I've met some very successful business people, the confident, happy, secure ones will always speak to you and treat you as an equal, the insecure ones living in fear try to make you feel small, don't be one of those ones! As they say - be nice to everyone on the way up because you might meet them on the way back down...
Don't be afraid to walk away...
You don't have to burn your bridges, just a simple 'this doesn't work for me right now but this experience / discussion / meeting has been invaluable, lets stay in touch and hopefully we can work together in the future' is a powerful thing, it shows you can stay in control of your own destiny, that you're confident and you have something to offer
Don't push it...
In my experience if you have to push too hard, it's not for you (yet!). Thats not to say you shouldn't fight for it because you ABSOLUTELY should!! Getting where you want to be is extremely hard work, I won't pretend it isn't, but if you've tried something from multiple angles and you just aren't making headway, if someone you need to engage is just not receptive to you or if you have that gut feeling that every time you try again you feel smaller and smaller and smaller, it's time to walk away. That doesn't mean it's over forever though. You'll often find as you become more experienced those doors open a little bit easier, just hop back a few a steps and try again! You'll also find that those doors that just keep slamming in your face are not the ones you really want once you start making progress anyway - I always say things happen for a reason and if you're being pushed away from something it's usually guiding you towards something else thats better!
It's not always about the money...
Not every good relationship is about the money. Thats not to say you should always work for free, of course we all have bills to pay and last time I checked, they won't take publicity / art supplies / a mention on a blog as payment on account! However, in the beginning of your career, working for free is a great way to build up your client list and your supplies. I chose 3 companies I loved when I started out and offered my services for free, in return I got boxes of art supplies I couldn't have afforded at the time, an impressive client list and lots of valuable experience! All of those also led in to being paid jobs for me at a later stage.
As you move on it can also be good to carve out a specific portion of time each month to do free stuff - maybe something for charity, an organisation, for good PR, in exchange for supplies or just because you enjoy it!
In their shoes...
Networking is a great way to meet people, this can be done at specific events (in the craft industry CHA UK organise some fantastic ones!) or just by getting in touch with people - social media makes this even easier for us now. People often email me to ask for advice on their crafts or business and I'm only too happy to help people wherever I can. However, if you do this then try putting yourself in their shoes, the cheeky and sometimes downright rude emails I get with messages like "how do I get your clients" to "this is urgent, please answer straight away" are most likely ignored!
Hold on tight...
Once you establish a good relationship, keep it! Sounds easy, right? It's all too easy to let your regular people slip because something new and shiny comes along, so you put off your regular person to chase the new opportunity - bad move! Word spreads fast (faster than you realise!) and new clients will always look at your track record - be loyal to those who were loyal to you - thats not to say you can't move on, but if and when you do, do so properly and respectfully.
and finally... Communication is key!
Looking for something specific? tell them. If your client thinks you just want to create something for them in exchange for supplies, thats probably all you'll get. If you want promotion / guidance / advice then tell them, most will only be too happy to help!
I really hope thats helped and answered lots of the questions I've had recently. I love hearing about the businesses you're venturing in to, it's a very exciting time! - don't forget CHA-UK or CHA are great organisations if you're starting out in the crafting world, sign up for lots of help and advice.
Today I'm very pleased to share the latest issue of the Sarah Hurley Lookbook magazine!
This free online craft and inspiration magazine features lots of projects from my lovely Design Team, all the latest news from Hurley HQ, new product peeks and great articles and tutorials! We would love to hear what you think of the issue. All of the products used in the projects shown are available here in my shop.
As ever,a massive thank you to my lovely design team who made such fabulous projects for this issue, and Lisa who put this issue together! Without them, none of this would be possible. We look forward to your comments and feedback.
Submissions for our Christmas Special and volume 6 are now open! To have your Sarah Hurley project considered for inclusion, please send us a photo of your project here.
More exciting news to share with you all today, I'm over the moon to tell you that my World of Imagination Make Believe Shop Playset has been shortlisted for a Slow Craft Toy Award! These are very prestigious awards, backed by John Lewis, supporting traditional toys and engaging play rather than computer games and flashing lights (though those are fun too!)
When I was developing the range I looked for a way to involve craft, learning and good old fashioned fun in one cute case and hopefully I achieved it! Now it's up to a panel of 6 prestigious judges including top parenting bloggers, authors and representatives of John Lewis and The Guardian to decide the winner, we'll be waiting on the edge of our seats at Hurley HQ!
if you're a blogger, journalist or writer and would like a copy of our press release please email us here and we'll send it straight over