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Surviving business storms

Last week was such a storm-filled one that I found myself searching for rainbows each time the rain stopped. And, I found a real beauty. I started thinking about the fact that rainbows are dependent on the storm and started comparing that to our business life.

My first thought was that we all have storms in our business, whether that is feeling overwhelmed by our work or not being able to get done what’s on our list because a “crisis” or storm brews. You have times that you are not in control. You also have financial storms, weeks or more with dismal sales.

The thing is all the storms pass, and you hopefully have rainbows: turning those to-dos into ta-das or developing better sales the next week. Is it possible to get to the rainbows without the heavy storms? Maybe yes, maybe no. Here are just a few ideas to consider.

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Too Much On Your Plate? Delegate

 

 

Recently I was talking with my client Claire, a needlework designer, about the need to start delegating some of her work. She was overwhelmed with the amount of work on her plate and she felt that she needed to do it all herself.

Claire is like many other small business entrepreneurs  who have a hard time delegating. It is hard to leverage your time to work on your business if you are always working in your business. Claire, like so many small business owners, had a fear of assigning work to others. (Control issues, anyone?) When you looked at this on a deeper level, you can discovered a few common reasons.

First, Claire was afraid that if she had someone else do a task, they would not do it as well as she could. Of course, this is really a story in her head, and it is not necessarily true. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should. Often someone can do the task even better than we can if we just let them. It is about letting each of us work in our brilliance.

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Create Powerful Intentions for Events

 

 

Many readers of this post are preparing for International Quilt Market, the annual trade show of the quilting and soft craft industries. You may be preparing for a retail show, an outdoor fair,  a conference, or other trade show. You may be preparing to host, present at, or attend an event.

I have talked with several of my clients preparing for the shows about their challenges, and the topic came up on on a recent monthly ICAP Members’ Studio group coaching call. It seems a lot of people are in a frenzy about what needs to get done.

I believe it comes down to being clear about your intentions for the show. I went to my first quilt industry trade show in 1994. I’ve learned quite a lot over the years about how to get the most from the show. Much of it is being intentional about what I want to have happen while I’m there.

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7 Steps for Success After a Workshop

 

This week a fabulous group of creative professionals from across North America joined me for our annual Creative Arts Business Summit. They spent three days working on, rather than in, their businesses. They learned new social media strategies, ideas for improving SEO, how to build and nourish customer relationships, plus lots more. By the end of the three days, they all left with a tremendous support network and a revenue plan for the year as well as a 90-day plan to move forward.

When was the last time you attended a workshop, returned excited only to get stuck with what to do first? I know it has happened to me. So much on my list and a sense of overwhelm happens. How do you figure out where to start? Here are some thoughts that will work whether it is a business workshop or an art workshop.

Make a list of the top 5 ideas you got

If you kept a list of the ideas you got at the workshop, it’s probably lengthy. We have an “Aha” page plus insight pages for each of our workshop days at CABS included in a workbook. I know everyone ended up with a lot more than five ideas.

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Move the Needle in Your Creative Arts Business

For many of us, moving the needle may have different connotations, especially since so many who read this blog sew. Today I want to talk about moving the needle forward in your business. All of us get stuck. Sometimes it’s just a simple tweak that can get the machine moving again. Sometimes it is something bigger that you need to do to move your business to the next level. Here are nine ways that will help get you moving and bring in cash to your business:

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Set and keep your boundaries

 

A couple of weeks back, I had a conversation with Katie, a long-time client. We talked about boundaries, something that we have talked about over the years. She had, again, agreed to take on the program chair position at her local art guild. The guild was in a real bind since the current chair was having surgery with a long rehab period, and they really needed her, she said. That was on top of Katie’s picking up the slack for one of the moms with snacks at the kids’ soccer games. And, she also lamented a call the day before from a long-time friend who needed someone to talk with. The problem was that the friend was always in a crisis mode and she picked Katie as the go-to person on many occasions.

During our conversation, Katie admitted she was exhausted and felt like her needs, both personal and professional, were taking second place. That was true. She may have had good boundaries, but she was not guarding them. She was giving away her time and energy. What we discussed was a test for Katie to make some changes in her life.

I will admit right up front I could be a better boundary setter. Well maybe not a setter, but rather a keeper. I can set those boundaries; I just do not always stick to them. How about you?

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Is it time for pruning?

 

A few years back at our home on the Chesapeake Bay I replaced five KnockOut® rose bushes. For years they had been beautiful bushes, full of continuous color, and tall enough to provide a barrier between our patio and our neighbor’s. Best of all, this rose variety was supposed to be disease resistant and did not need spraying. I am not one for heavy garden maintenance, so it was wonderful to have inherited these easy-care varieties with our home purchase.

The problem was that a couple years earlier we noticed these bright, thick red shoots. Our landscaper suggested pruning and that is what we did with the hope that we could get rid of the rose rosette disease, as it is known.

Unfortunately, the virus spread to the whole plant and we ended up having to pull up all five plants and start over. This time, we choose not to plant the roses.

So, what does this have to do with business? Just like with roses in your garden, your business can use a good pruning if you want it to bloom and prosper. And, you want to do the pruning before it becomes necessary to take more drastic action.

Here are some random thoughts on pruning in your business. Many of these were gleaned from a walk through my yard.

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Create a successful advertising plan

Today you are competing for business in a noisy world. Just look at all your options for connecting via social media. Every time you sign onto Instagram or Facebook, you’ve got the choice of stories or your feed. Not to mention the rabbit hole of Pinterest. Plus new social media platforms crop up that add to that noise.

How can you get the word out about your business in all that noise? If you are caught up in that noise, so is your customer. One effective way is with advertising.

Advertising is used to persuade an audience (your potential or current customers/clients) to take action with respect to your product or service. And if that action is purchasing your product, the results are not always immediate.

I have read numerous studies that it can take anywhere from 13-17 times for someone to see your print ad before they purchase. I’ve seen numbers as low as 7 with regard to television advertising. And, the range for online advertising varies as much. Maybe with changing algorithms, it varies even more. 

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Who are your peeps?

 

As you start to build your creative arts business and continue to grow it, one of the keys is getting clear on who your ideal client is. It is pretty important to know about the person who is buying your product or service. If you get right down to it, money comes from people, so it helps to know who they are if you want to ask them to invest with you.

When many people start out, they want to serve everyone, and I mean everyone. I can remember a student, Carol, who was in my “Craft Business Success From Your Creative Passion” class at International Quilt Festival in Chicago one year. The students went through an exercise to help them identify who their ideal customer was. Carol insisted that the entire quilting universe, and perhaps the whole non-quilting universe, was her customer. She was an appliqué artist and was making it her mission to teach appliqué to any and all quilters. It did not matter if the person was not interested in appliqué or already had a specialty, such as painting fabric, Carol was going to turn everyone into a lover of doing appliqué.

What is wrong with this picture of wanting everyone to love appliqué as much as Carol did? It is charming, yet it is unrealistic. It also holds Carol back from making a difference to those people on whom she could really have an impact. She is expending so much energy trying to reach everyone, that she is not able to reach those who could use her brilliance.

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6 ways to add revenue to your creative arts business

If you are in business, your goal should be to make money. Sure you have other goals that revolve around making a difference or sharing your art or building a legacy. I know that I do. Problem is that you can’t make as much of a difference if you aren’t making a profit in your business.

Making a profit is tied to increasing your revenue or decreasing your expenses or both. In truth you can only increase your revenue in three ways.

First, you can raise your prices.

Second, you can sell more to your current customers.

Third, you can find new customers.

This post focuses on six ways that you can increase your revenue. Some you may already be doing. Some you may have thought of and not tried yet. Some may be new to you.

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