Has anyone ever told you not to keep all your eggs in one basket? We’re about to throw caution to the wind! We’re talking about why it may sometimes be best to do just the opposite and how it can help you find more Etsy shop success! So grab your favorite basket! Gather all of the eggs, and let’s get crazy in this latest blog post from The Jam.
All in your basket or not?
Today we’re chatting through the topic of putting all your eggs in one basket. Should you? Shouldn’t you? Is there a balance between the two? To start things off, we want to share a quote with you. This quote inspired our team to tackle this particular topic.
In Andrew Carnegie’s talk, entitled “The Road to Business Success,” he discussed his life as a successful businessperson. He gives this advice:
And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret—concentrate your energy, thought and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged. Having begun on one line, resolve to fight it out on that line, to lead in it, adopt every improvement, have the best machinery, and know the most about it. The concerns which fail are those which have scattered their capital, which means that they have scattered their brains also.
They have investments in this, or that, or the other, here, there and everywhere. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is all wrong. I tell you “put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.” Look around you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most eggs in this country.”
Breaking it down
Now, Carnegie was a titan of industry in the late 1800s. But, this still pertains to our lives today! In fact, with the fast-paced world we now live in there are even more opportunities to be distracted and more reasons to be scattered than ever before. But, Carnegie still saw that to be an issue even in 1885 when he wrote this. It is incredible to think about distraction being an issue in the business world even before social media and modern technology.
Bristling at the thought
When Lisa first read this quote, she said she really bristled at it because it’s so different from the advice she heard growing up. For Lisa, growing up through the recession and things of that nature, she was taught that is was dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket. In her life, the common theme seemed to be “Diversify, diversify, diversify!” So when she read the above quote all she could think was, “Are you kidding me?! Is this for real?”
But as we continued to dive a little deeper into the discussion, it became clear that there are times when putting all your eggs in one basket can actually be a good thing! For example, we see it in a lot of specialized fields like medicine. We might complain when our doctor decides we need to see a specialist and that specialist only does one thing. But, when you have an issue where you need a particular specialist that is amazing at what they do, the value of this person having taken the time to “put all their eggs in one basket” is huge!
It makes sense
So, in this example and in many others, specializing in something and becoming an expert can really make sense. Diversification might sound great, but there are downsides there too! If you’re really diversified, then when things get tough and you have yourself scattered all over the place with different projects and jobs, how can you know which one to give attention to? And if you have multiple things that need attention at the same time, that makes it even more complicated!
The other side of the coin
Ah but it wouldn’t be fun without playing the devil’s advocate! The other side of this is what happens when you’re focusing all on one thing and that one thing suddenly starts to tank? Then what? There is definitely evidence that shows a generalist knowledge of many things is very helpful! A lot of breakthroughs and disruptive innovations happen when someone from a different industry enters in and shakes things up. Why? Because they’re bringing in outside ideas that you wouldn’t see when you’re hyper-focused. So someone might be an expert in an industry, but oftentimes the experts are just incrementally improving upon what that industry has always done.
Dabbling in a lot
Richie has a personality where he likes to dabble in a lot of different things. However, he says that he has to separate the fun and more personal side of doing a lot of different things from actually being productive. He says it’s way easier for him to be productive when he’s specialized in fewer things as opposed to trying to specialize in everything. Richie believes it’s best to pick something. For him, it’s best if he picks a system and works to become an expert in it, regardless of its flaws. For example, if he chooses to use Google Drive instead of Dropbox, he wants to work towards using it better than anyone has ever seen!
A real-world example
Another great example of this happening in everyday life is with the apps on your phone. When you have an app on your phone it usually does one thing. Your text message app isn’t also for playing games. They all have a distinct thing that they’re trying to do the best. If an app shows up that’s trying to do a billion things, it’s probably not going to do any of them well. Finding and being a solution to one problem instead of trying to solve ALL the problems will always be good advice.
The Etsy seller perspective
So let’s talk about your perspective as an Etsy seller. We often hear questions like these from sellers. “Should I break off and start another shop?” “Should I have three shops, each of them focusing on a different product?” And we know that even inside of one shop it can be easy to be pulled in several different directions.
One thing at a time
Gordon said that when he read the quote that sparked this discussion, his mind immediately went to how many different directions you get pulled in as an Etsy seller. Pinterest, Instagram, marketing, Google ads, there are so. many. things. Being spread thin is something we hear a lot from Etsy sellers! We receive emails all the time asking if sellers can hire someone from our team to do their SEO for them because they’re swamped and need to focus on production. It’s true that if you’re a one-man or woman show, you have to throw everything at one task at a time and then keep moving on from there.
So what is the best use of your time? Honestly, if you’re starting a blog while also trying to start a separate website to sell your products while working on all the other things we mentioned…more than likely none of those things will get the attention they deserve or need in order to be successful. So, what you need to do is step back, take an honest assessment of where you are with your goals, choose one of your stepping stones to a goal, and get to work focusing on one thing at a time.
So what’s our advice? Multiple shops or one?
We say focus on the things that you can be best at. If you have extra time and it’s fun for you to focus on new things then do that in the extra time you have. Otherwise, we would be concerned that you’d get burned out by trying to create too complex of a system. Even if you like systems. You can still burn out if you try and do too much and make it too complicated.
If you’re not having much success with one shop, we don’t think opening a second shop is going to help anything. If you are having success with one shop and are considering opening a second shop, it’s crucial for you to remember that another shop will add a ton more demands on your time. You really need to be mindful of this before jumping in. Too many demands have the potential to derail your first shop. Especially if you suddenly can not give it the time it needs.
After this discussion, Lisa feels her conclusions are a little different than when she first read the quote. When she first read the quote she was equating being specialized with being closed off to everything else going on around you and not recognizing or reacting to the trends happening outside your basket. But she thinks that doesn’t have to be the case and that her original conclusion wasn’t what the author was getting at. Instead, she now reads the quote as a reminder to make sure you’re doing what’s in front of you well. And part of doing that is paying attention to what’s going on around you so you don’t drop your basket and bust all your eggs.
There truly is a balance. If you feel like you’re in a good place to start slowly putting eggs into a new basket, that’s awesome! What you don’t want is to have your eggs in so many baskets that none of them are getting the attention they need. Do what you’re good at. Stick with that until you feel solidly ready to branch out. But don’t branch out if you haven’t already gotten a good handle on what you’re currently doing.
Also, remember that it’s never a good idea to branch out or start something new out of desperation. Starting multiple shops because you’re desperate for something to has the potential to snowball. Slow down, take a breath, assess and be honest about the problems in your current shop and tackle those first.
We know that you weren’t born selling on Etsy and more than likely your Etsy shop was you picking up a new basket and starting to put a few eggs in it. But you probably didn’t bet the entire farm on it. More than likely it was a slow process of figuring out what worked and what didn’t. So view starting any new shop like this. Start slow, dip your toes in the water, test what will and won’t work. But never start something new at the expense of a shop that is currently working for you.
Let us hear from you!
We absolutely want to hear what your story and experiences are with all of this! Are you considering opening a new shop? Or maybe you’re just trying to improve your current shop and you’re torn between a ton of different things to accomplish this? Maybe you already tried too many things and had to scale back and you’ve found a good balance that’s working for you! Regardless, let us know in the comments below what is and isn’t working for you and how you got to where you are today.
Happy selling, everyone!