About Sisu Botanicals - Before and After COVID-19
Sisu Botanicals is a little apothecary and a small clinic in Fairfield which I set up last year. I'm pretty new. We used to do workshops, it was really like trying to educate people around their health space, and make it really easy to implement into your life. I also rented space to other holistic practitioners.
I make a lot of medicinal-based, herbal medicinal-based products like teas and skin care. Also, a lot of ritual products like incense, things like that. I was teaching a lot of it, I just really got into studying, teaching the community how to do that as well. Obviously, with COVID coming along, it meant that I pretty much couldn't rent to other practitioners anymore as it was a little bit hard for them to really guarantee that they're going to stay here.
Then also, my workshops had to change, obviously, as I couldn't have many people inside. Then also, everything basically went online.
Also because one thing I like to treat and help with the most is mental health, anxiety, depression, and stress. I did find going online like learning how to hold space over the computer was a big learning curve as well, because you pick up a lot when someone is in front of you. Basically, from in person to online, I guess, it is in a nutshell.
Check out Sisu Botanicals Online Store here
Pivoting from In Person Consults to Creating Products
I know that since you've had too close to your in-person clients, you've actually created a couple of really beautiful products. Would you like to share some of the things that you've been creating with us?
Yes. One of my goals is to try to support other local makers. I connected with a really beautiful local ceramicist Tiny Foley. We started making candles together. The idea was that people could use them for home decor as well for self-care, the ingredients are all natural and the ceramic bowls is refillable, and because we're sustainably based.
I used all these essential oils that I'd usually use a massage to help people with transition, and stress, things like cypress which helps us get through tough times.
Self Care as Small Business Inspiration
I was getting pretty stressed as well, while trying to balance everything. I found that my coffee consumption started creeping up, because I've got so much to do.
I decided to make myself a coffee alternative, which is an adaptogenic that helps your body deal with stress or adapt to stress. I packaged it in the refillable jars.
I made it for myself, I was drinking it, then other people found out about it, now I sell it!
It's got things like Roasted Dandelion, Chicory, Ashwagandha, and the Tangerines that I grow in the backyard, dehydrated, and put in there as well. It smells a lot like cookies which I really like. There have been some great things that have come out of this time as well.
Small Business Time Management Challenges
I know that one of the challenges that you've been finding, I think this is probably the case for every small business owner out there, is time management, and balance.
Do you want to take us through a little bit about some of the challenges you've had?
Yes, definitely time management. It was not my strength anyway and seems to happen with COVID, you try and come up with all these new ideas, then you get lost in trying to work out all of what the restrictions are, and all the things you had to do for that, then try to find the grants, get on top of all that thing, communicating with landlords, and everything.
But then also, because my business is creative, as well as looking after patients, I feel like that's a whole different part of my brain, pivoting from one to the other, then also not getting too exhausted, then try to figure out how to make that work without getting too tired, I guess, or not then going so much on the trying to figure out the business side that you forget about another.
How do you structure things currently, or do you just float, whatever is happening is happening?
Yeah. I'm definitely a floater, but I know that I like to have big chunks of time when I'm doing creative things, especially, a lot of my creative things around the full moon or the new moon.
Also, I like to try and put good energy into what I'm making. I always try and make sure that my time is set aside. That's probably the main thing I structure. Then also, patients booking in, that structure as well, but everything else, as it comes up, I guess, I just deal with it.
Time Management Strategies - What works for you personally and your Small Business
Time management can be tricky. Everyone is different. We all have different needs, we all work in different ways – especially if we are creative and doing business stuff.
It’s important to look at how you structure your time. For some people it is useful to look at this across a day, a week or a month.
If you're creative around the full moon, that's a monthly cycle - but in terms of the business side of things (accounts, emails etc), what can be useful is to have a set time each week that is dedicated to just that.
So during that time, you don't take bookings, you don't do creative stuff. It probably won’t be a Friday because that’s the end of the week. And a Monday might be busy, because you're catching up on inquiries from the weekend. Maybe a Tuesday or a Wednesday could work where you block out a certain period of time each week which is when you do numbers, you do the accounts and other admin stuff like that.
I don't know how many emails and things like that you get but maybe checking emails will be a daily or weekly thing. You might have a time each day that is dedicated to emails; maybe it's mid morning or mid afternoon. Whatever time you choose as email time, you don’t check it outside of that. If you need to, you can set up an auto reply saying, “We check our emails twice a day, we'll get back to you within 24 hours.” Then, you don't have to be doing something, and an email comes in, and you're like, “Oh wait, I've got to reply to that, but what was I doing? Now, I've lost what I was up to!”.
I think sectioning time in the day or in the week or in the month is really good, kind of how you have for the creative stuff which is obviously what comes most naturally to you. How can you take that and what you've learned from that, and apply that in other parts of your business? Maybe you'll find that if you are interested in moon cycles and things like that then there's a time in the month that is a really good time for you to do accounts. Maybe instead of doing accounts stuff weekly, you'll end up being like, “Oh, it's the 10th day of whatever cycle in the month, that is when I'll sit down, and do all of my accounts”.
You try and find the rhythm that works for you in the day, in the week, in the month. It can be the same with accounts, it can be emails, maybe, it's even marketing, instead of randomly doing bits of marketing, you sit down, block out some time each week or each month to look at, “What is it I want to market? What's my strategy for the coming week or month? What do I need to create to make that possible, then get all of that done in one go?”
That makes sense. I never thought about going by the moon, that's amazing.
I think in our businesses, especially, if we're creative, we have to go with what works for us as creative people, and apply that in a business setting, that might not be a structured 9 to 5 with these tasks all in a row, it might be more flowy or different to that.
Top Tips for Time Management for Sisu Botanicals from Donna Gross
We all have different needs and work in different ways. Look at your own cycles and patterns and what works for you. Learn from them and apply those learnings to how you approach time management in your business. For example, if you know you are creative around full moon then allow time for that.
When structuring your time, consider time management on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis.
Create dedicated time for accounts, emails and other admin – and stick to it! This will ensure that they don’t take over the rest of your time and will allow you the space you need for both your business and yourself.
- One hour every morning and every afternoon for emails and responding to messages on other platforms.
- Three hours on the last Thursday of every month for accounts
- Three hours per week OR 8 hours per month for social media content curation,
- creation, copy-writing and scheduling
Does the idea of not responding immediately to enquiries give you the heebie-jeebies?
Set an auto-reply on your email and other platforms to let your customers know that you check messages daily and will respond within 24 hours.
This is an edited transcript and the first in a series of articles designed to support small business owners, sharing helpful strategies as well as the personal stories that make their businesses unique.