I hate doing custom orders.
They give me this crazy anxiety, send me into a procrastination spiral, and generally make me feel like my hair is on fire for days on end. Yet my business was almost completely made to order.
In the beginning when I didn’t have money, materials, or a good sense of what would sell, making to order seemed like a sensible idea. I didn’t want to tie up what little money I had in products that might not sell. So every time I sold something, I photographed it and listed it as made to order. Soon I had many custom orders, and my stress levels went up, but I didn’t quite see that it was the custom work causing it. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized how miserable it makes me.
Then I though that the problem was spending far too much time creating new customer directed designs and searching for the perfect fabric while being paid far to little.
These last few weeks have proven that wrong. I have been working on a custom order. I am being paid appropriately; it’s not a fussy or new design. The customer has been great, everything is great.
Yet my hair was still on fire.
I have to accept that this is just me.
Making a custom item stresses me out. I cannot see how to change that about myself. So I am no longer making quilts to order.
I talked last time about how I am taking the time to reevaluate my work practices, and this is one of the decisions I have had to make. In fact, I think ending custom work is an important part of growing up in my business. It is scary to think of being offered cash in hand to make an order and turning it down. But I am trying to think about long-term profitability, and custom orders are not the path to that for me.
The funny thing is that since I wrapped up the last custom order, my productivity has skyrocketed. My output has doubled. I am bursting with ideas that I can actually work on right now, not when I finish the pending orders.
That was when the lines of that children’s rhyme (I think it’s called “Lion Hunt”?) started running through my mind.
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Have to go around it
I was spending so much of my time and energy trying to climb over, or tunnel under the giant boulder in my path when I didn’t need to.
I can just go around.
I don’t need to do custom work to be in business. This is my business and I can run it the way that suits me.
Are there obstacles in your business that you are approaching in the most difficult way possible? Are you trying to drill through solid rock when you could just go around it?