The Three Obstacles in Your Way to Success


This is a guest post by Tara Swiger.

You don’t have to want to quit your dayjob.
(but like I said last month, I believe you can if you want to!)

No matter what you want from your crafty biz, I know that you want something: you want success.
You want to feel that you’ve reached your goals and grown your business and succeeded.

And that’s awesome.
It’s fabulous to be reaching, to be striving.

But it is decidedly not awesome to feel like you can’t get where you want to be. That you’re failing.

The good news: There are some (pretty simple to move) obstacles in your way to your own version of Handmade Success:

1. You don’t know what you want.

Yeah, you may have a general overview (Quit my dayjob! Be happy! Spend my time crafting!), but you don’t know specifically what you want. How much do you want to make a year? A month? A week? How much time do you spend crafting? How much time writing, photographing, bookkeeping, shipping? What would your day look like if your CraftyBiz was wildly successful?

The truth is: you can’t get what you want until we know what you want.

2. You don’t prioritize.

Once you have a clear vision of what you want from your business, what comes first? Growing a list? Creating new products? Creating content? Fixing your pricing?

You need to break down your specific goals into what’s the most important to you. And what specific steps will get you to that specific goal.

3. You don’t have support and accountability.

Even the most driven amongst us (and I was raised by two Marines, so yeah, I’m a bit obsessively driven), can’t keep up the sort of sustained, long-term work (and play!) in a vacuum. Especially in the beginning, when you’re not getting any feedback from customers (because you don’t have them yet!) or your community (because you haven’t found them yet!).

From the outside, this problem shows itself as lack of focus, or lack of commitment, but the more CraftyBiz-ers I talk to, the more I’m convinced that beating yourself up is NOT the answer.

A much saner (and sustainable!) solution is to find a support network.

People to who will check in (kindly!) with you.
People who will give you honest (gentle) feedback.
People who will brainstorm awesome ideas with you.

The good news

You can do this!

  • You can spend the time figuring out what you want with your notebook + a few hours.
  • You can prioritize in a few minutes of focused attention.
    (That is, if you know what you want (see #1!) and the business basics of how to get there.)
  • You can form your own accountability circle on Twitter, Facebook or just your email buddies.
  • You can join programs (like my Starship or Tara Gentile’s Art of Action or any of the other genius programs out there!)

Either way, don’t let these things get in between you and what you want.
Don’t let your business feel like a weight when it could feel like a joy.

Ask for help.
Seek answers.

And no matter what, don’t treat yourself like a Marine drill sergeant would, ok?

Do you think one of these points is keeping you from success?

Tell me about it in the comments!


Tara Swiger crafts businesses, makes yarn and takes naps. If you’re craving some business-smarts for your craftastic adventure get free weekly SparklePointers delivered right to your inbox.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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25 Comments on “The Three Obstacles in Your Way to Success

  1.  by  Isabelle at VZWraps

    This is a great reminder. I started out the year, as I’m sure many people did, with a plan, steps to take along the way, etc., etc., but I’ve definitely gotten off track. I strangely have some unexpected time this afternoon, so instead of tackling some odds and ends, perhaps I should get my notes from January out and get REFOCUSED!

  2.  by  Danielle

    What a great post. I definitely can relate to all three of these obstacles. I need to just sit down & really think about these questions. I have a big to-do list, which feels overwhelming & I’m procrastinating b/c of that. Thanks for this timely article.

  3.  by  Andrea (Sacred Suds)

    Wow, I love how you have distilled so many entrepreneurial obstacles into these three very simple (and easy to remove) blocks – and you are so right! I’ve got very specific goals for this year, and I’ve been using #2 and #3 to work towards achieving those goals. And it’s working! Thanks so much for the reminder to stay on task, and especially to remember to Prioritize!

  4.  by  Tara

    Isabelle: Yay for REFOCUS!

    Danielle: Sometimes I grab the procastination as a sign to do something else (especially something less tangible, like thinking)… give in for a set period of time and think these through. Getting clear on your big picture is NEVER wasted time!

    Andrea: thanks so much! Yay for specific goals!

  5.  by  Kristy

    UGH, I am so totally feeling this article! Support is the one I am lacking. I hold myself accountable (maybe too accountable but at least “someone” is right?) but I’m a WAHM in a rural community so there isn’t anyone close by to talk to and I always feel bad reaching out to the couple online friends whose opinions I trust to often. I don’t want to become annoying :) I’m definitely in my own vacuum

  6.  by  Lauren Ruiz

    The funny thing is, this applies to businesses in general, not just to Etsy shops. I’ll have no trouble applying it to my editing/proofreading service.

  7.  by  Tara

    Kristy – maybe you’d feel more comfortable if you joined (or created) a specifically-for-accountability group? Weekly check-ins (via email, twitter, facebook, whatev) can be as big or a little of a deal as you need them to be!

  8.  by  Louise Mossom

    Thanks for the inspiration. Today is the first day of organising myself so that next year I can take this hobbie to the next level; ie give up the day job.

  9.  by  Ellie Thomas

    great artical thank you! I was made redundant back in December so when I started my business I was almost thrown in to it in a state of panic! Felt and still feel a bit lost and been beating myself up because its taking so long to try and build up and make people aware of my shop. I will be going back and looking at things a bit clearer and starting to ask for feed back good or bad to help my business grow. I started on twitter last week and although its not a very me thing to do im starting to make contacts and find out more about whats going on in the crafting world! I would reccomend it! Time to step out of my vacuum I think!

  10.  by  Angie Morales

    This is a great article and explains so much why I haven’t gotten very far with my craft biz so I can’t make #1 happen. I am going to buy the book at for craft businesses.

  11.  by  Jeanne Patton

    Loving it. Tara must be in my head. I found myself scrambling when I became unemployed, middle-aged, high school educated and unmarketable. The looks and sassy attitude just didn’t get it any more. I had never failed at anything I had set out to do…until now. Tara, with your advice and factual but gentle delivery I will begin to turn things around today with a written set of step by step goals. A prioratized list of prioraties and written, honest feedback from anyone willing to participate. Today, the rug gets tossed out the door and the ‘ick’ hiding underneath will be exposed so the cleaning process can begin. Thank you Tara.

  12.  by  Lienime

    Ohhh I love your ideas! I get crazy with my job and my lack of time and get nervous when I cant spend a few hours working with my craft ideas… =(
    Reading you always make me feel more calm and hopeful. Thank you!

  13.  by  bob doyle

    hi may i ask for a little bit of your time. i started wire wrapping in febuary of this year i have jewelry on etsy and in two stores and still cant seem to sell any thing i thougt it my be pricing but when i looked im wright in line all my named stones are real and tested with a refractometer i also sell some fake ones but thay are listed as (gem stones) not acctual names ie. tapaz,amethyst,aquamarine i use 925 silver and 12kt yellow gold filled wire. every one that sees my jewelry loves it but its still not selling i know one of the biges thing that hurts my sales are fakes i see stuff all the time being sold for way to cheap i know how much the wire and the stones cost (the real ones) so i know somethings not wright. so could you please offer some ideas on how to promote with out spending lots of money



  14.  by  Linda Burnette

    Thanks so much, this article is very helpful. I create Patriotic Cards to encourage patriotism and appreciation for our Troop and their families.

    Do you have any information about military family blogs?

    Thanks for your help.


  15.  by  lynn

    This is a great article and I thank you for putting this up. I am just getting a Etsy store started and this will help me get things in order and put my focus were it needs to be. Also your comments about beating ourselves up rings true with me and I am going to be a little gentler with myself from now on.
    Thank you so much

  16.  by  Sigal Friedlich-Zakai

    Prioritizing is so important and it is one of my weaknesses. I work with a list but i’m not prioritizing, I just love to tick whatever is on the list. .thx for your post and for the reminder! :)

  17.  by  Patty

    This a great series of points – the “knowing what you want” especially resonates with me. Yes, I want to quit my day job – but what does that entail? How will I get there? I need to break it down into smaller, more immediate achievable goals. Thanks for this!

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  19.  by  Misty

    Thank you so much for the encouragement ! I find that all three obstacles ring true for me. But , more so with the third. My best friend who is also my husband is actually my biggest problem and that hurts . I am a WAHM and my family is important to me , but I am also an artist first need to grow and be successful with my Etsy site for my family and me. You have renewed my faith in my self and my business , thank

  20.  by  Misty

    Thank you so much for the encouragement ! I find that all three obstacles ring true for me. But , more so with the third. My best friend who is also my husband is actually my biggest problem and that hurts . It’s hard when you work hard to achieve your goals ,only to have someone tell you many reason why I will fail .I am a WAHM and my family is important to me , but I am also an artist first and need to grow and be successful with my Etsy site for my family and me. You have renewed my faith in my self and my business , thanks .

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  22.  by  Arianna

    oh wow, this is what i needed to read!
    I can relate to all 3 obstacles and i am sure there are even more obstacles i can relate to that are not being mentioned here.

    Is good to know i am not alone and i thought i was wrong for feeling overwhelmed and procrastinating. i love etsy even more now!

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