Setting Goals for your Handmade Business

It’s the time of year when everyone takes a look back at the past year and asks themselves, “What can I do better?” 

And while it’s natural (and good) to make your business goals part of that, it’s equally important to make sure the goals are reasonable. Setting unreasonable goals for yourself is a recipe for failure and disappointment.

A good goal should be:

  1. reasonable
  2. attainable (and by that, I mean it’s something in your control)
  3. proactive


Felt home decor flower by IngerMaaike


A common goal I see for handmade business owners is setting a milestone with sales. And while the milestone itself may not be unreasonable, I don’t like this kind of goal because there are too many variables that determine sales. And a lot of them are out of our control.

Here’s a gardening analogy (get prepared for lots of those as I go into full garden frenzy, this year. My apologies in advance.): when you grow plants from seed, the number of seeds you can expect to sprout into a plant is called the germination rate.

Vintage Feed Sack Pillow by TheNewVintageHome

Of course, everyone would love to have 100% germination rate- that is, every seed they sow sprouts into a plant. But that’s probably rare.

You could do everything correctly: the right amount of light, warmth, water, fertilizer, keeping them sheltered, etc…. and you still will have some seeds not germinate. Why? There are dozens or reasons- type of seed, bad batch of seeds, something funky in the potting mix you used, your dog knocked your seedlings over, you had a freak cold or warm spell, and on and on.

I’m sure you get the point now, which is: you could do all the things you have control over correctly and still not get the perfect results you wanted.

Medium Sprout Hog by PlantPets

That’s how it is with sales. You could do everything in your power right, but the million little things that make a sale happen just don’t turn out every time.

Along the same lines, I think making a sales milestone is something that seems  proactive, but isn’t.


But then what? I would guess that a lot of people do mostly what they did the previous year, and hope the increase in sales will just happen.

Pink clay flowers in ceramic white vase by unoamdes

If you make your goals about maximizing sales instead of choosing an arbitrary number of sales to reach in a set amount of time, you can’t lose.

So I propose making your goals about all of the things that are in your power, and spelling them out as thinks You Will Do.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Maybe you’ve noticed you get a bump in sales when you list new designs. Then there’s a great goal for you: I will make 30 new designs this year.
  • Maybe you’ve been thinking that your photos aren’t up-to-snuff and feel that better photographs will increase your sales. I will retake all of my photos (or pay/trade someone to do it for me). An excellent goal.
  • Maybe you think you could promote more…. I will vehemently insist that every handmade business person should have some sort of promotion goal. After all, in my opinion, promotion is The Most important part of the selling equation. I will do some sort of promotion every single day.

Keep your energy focused on the things you can make happen, not the things that happen to you.

And when you do hit those sales milestones? Don’t forget to celebrate.

4 thoughts on “Setting Goals for your Handmade Business

  1. That was a good little post. I read it feeling smug at the beginning that I hadn’t made a goal regarding sales! Then I laughed when I got to the end and realised that equally, I had planned nothing about promotion, probably because I am really bad at it! So, thank you for the great advice and I am now going to try and implement something ‘re promotion!-Suzy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *