What’s REALLY stopping your from selling your work to shops?

Post by Clare Yuille : Part 2 of a 3 Part series for the Kindness in Business series.


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What’s REALLY stopping your from selling your work to shops?

Picture the scene.

It’s a grey, blustery day in May 2000. You’re hovering high above a motorway, watching a blue car drive towards Glasgow. Your point of view descends until you’re flying along beside the car.

Through the back window you can see me, aged 21, dressed in grey, quietly crying.

In the front of the car are my dad and my sister. They’re chatting about where to go for pizza. Tears are streaming down my face. They ignore me completely.

It’s about to be one of the best days of my life.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. After you read my post last week I bet something like this crossed your mind:

“Okay Clare, you got me.

Maybe I do want to sell my work to shops. I’ve done the calculations and I’m pretty sure I can make it work. But here’s what you don’t get: I’m really, really frightened of approaching shopkeepers about stocking my stuff.

What if I make a mistake and say the wrong thing?

What if I come across as pushy or presumptuous?

What if a potential stockist is mean about my work?

What if they say no?

I’m not sure I can handle that. So I’m not doing it.”

Sounds to me like you’re frightened of being rejected. Why? Because it hurts like hell. Who wants to open themselves up to that, right?

Well, look at it this way. Of course you’re frightened of being hurt.

One of the reasons humankind has made it this far is because we know things that hurt are bad. Early people probably devoted a whole section of their limited vocabulary to sounds that meant “Watch out for the red hot flamey thing, it’s HURTY.” Or “Let’s take a really big club on this hunting expedition, those things with the fangs are extremely HURTY.”

The only difference is that now the voice telling you to watch out for hurty things is in your head.

And because that voice hasn’t ever needed to know about things like wholesale or running a business, it doesn’t understand that sometimes you have to risk getting hurt in order to get something you want. It just wants to keep you safe, forever.

So what’s the answer?

I’m not going to lie to you. If you’re in business sometimes you’re going to get hurt. Things aren’t always going to work out the way you want them to.

But here’s my point.

Sometimes taking a step towards what you’re scared of really pays off.

Want an example? Let’s go back to me staring mournfully out of that car window.

My dad and my sister were taking me to my audition for drama school. I’d been weeping with fear since 4am. I wanted to be an actor with my whole heart but I was terrified of trying.

In the weeks leading up to the audition I’d forbidden my family from mentioning it. I chose my speeches and learned my lines in secret. I went for walks and rehearsed in front of a field of sheep. They seemed to like the Shakespeare.

When the day came I was a hollow-eyed wreck. I told my parents I’d changed my mind, I wasn’t going. Somehow my dad and sister got me in the car and then completely ignored me.

It felt like they were taking me to the gallows.

When we got there my dad had to quickly pull in at the side of a busy junction. I said “I’m not going, I’m not ready, I can’t!” My dad said “There’s a sodding articulated lorry behind me, get out!”

I got out. My sister bought a pack of cigarettes even though neither of us smoked. Somewhere near the end of the second one I decided to just do it.

I went in. I auditioned. Ten days later I was accepted to drama school.

I’m not telling you this because I think you should push past your fear. Sometimes when I tell this story people say “See, all that fuss for nothing! Bet you can’t even remember what you were scared of!”

Nah. I know exactly what I was scared of and I bet you do too.

But what I’d like you to think about is this:

How much discomfort are you willing to put up with in order to get what you want?

Pitching your work to shops means making yourself vulnerable. There are lots of ways to increase your chances of success – and we’ll look at some of them next week – but this is pretty much what it comes down to.

If you can manage it, the potential rewards are huge – the chance to build a business that sustains you and your family, doing what you love every day and being your own boss to mention just a few.

That’s big stuff, and it’s not going to suddenly land in your lap one evening while you’re watching CSI Miami and eating Wotsits.

So here’s my question. I know you’re scared, but are you up for it?

Clare Yuille is a retail coach for creative types who want their wholesale business to go whoooosh. Want to sell your work to indie retailers but feel overwhelmed, out of your depth or, erm…completely paralysed by fear, doubt and self-criticism? Clare’s blend of insider knowledge and expertise will help you simmer-the-heck-down, plot your course and experience so many biz-related epiphanies you’ll actually enjoy pitching your work to retailers. She takes away the eeeek! and replaces it with aaah.

Ready to get moving? Download her free Indie Retail Starter Kit.

This post is Part 2 of a 3 part series, you can read Part 1 here : How to tell if you’re ready to sell your work to shops!

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