I am usually a pretty confident guy. Enough so that it sometimes annoys my wife, who finds me overly optimistic to the point of folly.
In many ways, selling at my tree farm is easy. Unlike a farmer's market or craft fair, where 90 percent of people walking by are not even going to strike up a conversation let alone buy anything, I know with fair certainty that most anyone driving down my little dirt road is there to get a tree. Or a wreath. Or both. Maybe a spoon too. Anything else I can help you with? The question is not IF they are there to spend money, it's how much.
I don't mean this to sound crass. It's just fair to recognize that this dynamic is LOADS easier mentally and emotionally than practicing that careful nonchalant availability that is key at markets and fairs to attract customers and not scare them away.
What is hard, though, is when you start to compare sales this day to sales the same day in years past. It's all too easy to try to see trends in two data points that ultimately tell you nothing about where you are at, where you've been and where you're going. I might be having a killer day, feeling great, and then I make the mistake of looking in my book to see how it compares to last year or the year before and to see that I'm actually not tracking with sales on THOSE days.
What does it mean? Does it mean ANYTHING?
The answer, (and it is an unsatisfying answer) is that you have no idea what it means until the end of the season when you see the totals. And even THAT doesn't tell you the whole story, because you might be down and WANT to be down (as we plan to be, since the trees need a light year to gain some ground size-wise for next year, so we haven't advertised at all this year for the first time). Total number of sales also doesn't correspond to total sales nor to actual profit, since we raised our price for the first time in ten years this year and are also getting by with about half the help of previous years. So that may offset the deliberate drop in sales, although we'll have to see at the end.
The point is, it's easy to get into a lather about this in a way that is totally counterproductive to life in general and being present in the moment in particular.
But you know what does help? Helping someone. Answering a question. Asking a question. Giving a kid a pine cone. Handing out a saw. Lifting a tree onto a car roof. A genuine conversation, I have found, is the best antidote to the doubt of whether or not I am succeeding in my chosen business. Because in the end, I am in control of the trajectory of my business. I can always work harder, make smart choices for the future. But true success? True success lies in the connections we make with one another.
My blog has evolved into a series of short essays on the nature of entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, and their overlap. If either of these topics is something you think about, you will probably like this.
One idea is as worthless as another until you actually do something about it, and then it is the action, not the word that matters. --Orson Scott Card