This is a bit of a ramble, but it is that time of year to reflect and make plans, come to some conclusions and hopefully start to act on them.
Maybe it's because we've popped out of the other side of a busy period and I can look up and see what's happening around me, what I've missed over the past few months, that I'm feeling like this. And maybe as I said, it's that time of year.
Anyway, the idea came to me today while I was tidying up and sorting out the workshop - the annual clear up. There was the usual pile of out of date catalogues, things kept because they might come in handy one day ( and didn't), odds and ends of half completed projects which will never be completed - you know, the usual.
And lots of spiders, dust and neglected corners. After all, the workshop has now been in existence for 18 years. Can you believe it?
So, the idea. As craft businesses go, this one of ours is pretty successful, I have to say. We aren't well off particularly, and it hasn't come easy, but we have reached a point where the business rumbles along on its own. We are cogs in the wheel - making up the orders as they come in and adding new designs every so often to the core, which has been the mainstay for so long. I found a sketchbook of designs for cards which goes back 20 years, and some of them are still in production!
Where am I going with this? Oh yes, if there's one thing that keeps me awake at night it's the fact that I am totally responsible for the success or failure of this business and therefore our livelihood and future comfort in old age. Each decision made could either propel us into super stardom or rack and ruin. So far, things have worked out. But could they have worked out better? Maybe I haven't taken enough chances? Haven't worked enough at aspects of the business where I feel least comfortable - like marketing and promotion for example.
Been content to spend the time making up multiples of cards when I should have been delegating and using the time to be more creative and try out new directions.
2009 has been our most successful year to date, successful enough for our bank manager's jaw to drop when he realised what our turnover was. ( I don't think he has much respect for craft businesses.)
So why should I rock the boat? Well, because every self employed person, crafts or otherwise probably wonders when the bubble's going to burst.
So far, a mixture of intuition and luck has kept us ahead of the game - when things got sticky in the craft fair side, we had already gone down the road of wholesale, for example.
But going back to what I said at the start of this rant, I've raised my head and had a look around me - there are so many talented designers out there - and it's so easy to find them now, on the internet and blogland. So much fresh exciting work, and I find myself thinking - I could do that! Before I miss the boat completely.
OK - so what? What do I do about it? Drag myself out of the rut probably. Waken up.
Last year I thought I wanted to find an outlet for my creative yearnings through going back to my embroidery and textile roots. This year I've realised that my creative home is the business itself.
So, (big intake of breath) the time has come to do something about it.
2010 could quite easily be a carbon copy of 2009, and there would be nothing wrong with that in monetary terms, but today in the workshop I wanted to scoop everything up and chuck it out. To start afresh.
Don't worry friends, it won't be so drastic, But with a bit of luck and perseverance you may see changes begin to appear among the familiar Embroidered Originals products. Little ones to start with, but with hope for more to follow.
I usually end my blog posts on a high note, with a bit of whimsy. But not tonight, I'm not going to be flippant.
If you've had the staying power to get this far in this post I thank you for listening. I almost don't expect anyone to have bothered, but that's OK.
There's something about seeing it in print that makes it more tangible. So maybe I'm more likely to stick with it.
I should stop now, but there are a couple of things bothering me - one is that it might seem arrogant to be ranting on about me, me, me. Not intended and please don't take offence.
The other is that I know there are ideas swirling around in my head and I need to get them sorted and act on them. That is a lot more difficult than writing about it.
Tomorrow I have to do something about it before we start getting busy again and the year flies away.
PS My best friend and business helper who has been with us for almost the whole journey, has had her own battles over the past few months. I've missed our weekly sessions in the workshop, when the tongues worked as hard as the hands. Maybe because she hasn't been my sounding board, I'm writing this now.
But as I say, she has had a lot more to contend with lately, and I have nothing to grumble about in comparison. To my friend - I sincerely hope that you have left it all behind in 2009 - finished, over - and look forward to a bright New Year that's peaceful, healthy, happy and above all, normal.
PPS Where does my husband and business partner figure in all of this, you might be wondering? Doesn't he have a say in the decision making? Well, yes of course. But he's not the ideas man - he listens, agrees or disagrees, but ultimately lets me get on with it. He knows what's good for him. (And I wasn't going to be flippant!)