Do you ever get that sinking feeling when you look around and start to compare yourself to others — their art or their business success?
You start to think that no one will every want what you have.
And, then you start to believe the one or two people who have ever commented negatively on your work.
And, then the spiral starts. Really, who are you to do this anyway?
Last week while I was caught in yet another rainstorm on the East Coast, I remembered something I had read about the difference between the bison and the cow.
Not having experienced it, I am not sure if it is anecdotal or always holds true. Even if it is only anecdotal, it holds some good lessons for all of us.
When storms come, the bison and the cow approach the storm differently.
Most storms come from the west and move east.
When cows sense that a storm is coming, they will start to run to the east, to try to outrun it. Ever watch cows run? I have, since my uncle and cousins raise grass-fed cattle. They do not really move all that fast. So the storm will catch up to the cows and they will be caught up in it and actually run with it. They won’t get out of the storm until the storm passes them by.
Bison, on the other hand, will run right into the storm. They will get through the storm more quickly and with less pain and frustration.
Both animals face exactly same storm yet their approach is the opposite.
Guest post by Gwen Fox, www. gwenfox.com.
There were lots of giggles and hugs as the women said their good-byes. They had come from all over the U.S. and Canada to take this workshop in Taos, New Mexico.
Now it was time to clean the facility and Helen graciously said she would help. We swept, mopped and laughed as we relived all the class personalities.
When we finished I asked Helen if she would like to go for a margarita at Doc Martins, located in the historic Taos Inn. Doc Martins is famous for the number of celebrities that come to have a quiet drink without all the fan fare of being a star.
We chose our seats in an area so we could talk. Helen had come a long distance and was new to the art world. I liked Helen as she was curious, eager to learn, intelligent and she had inner strength.
As we sipped our margaritas we started talking about art, painting and the struggles it brought. Helen’s eyes lowered and she looked into her margarita for several minutes. I had seen this scene many times. I knew what was coming as I had lived what she was about to say.
How often do you reward yourself for your work?
If you are like many creative entrepreneurs I know, it’s not very often. Sure you accomplish the items on your to-do list, you make progress towards your goals, and you may feel proud about what you are doing. Then, it’s on to the next thing on the list, the next goal.
Many of my clients take part in what I call a Success and Strategies Summit on a weekly basis. For years, I had been taking time to look at what I accomplished and plan ahead on a weekly basis. It made a difference in how much I was accomplishing and the confidence level I had.
When I started working with private clients and ICAP members, I shared this more formal practice with them. They began to see how important this review was in their own lives and businesses.
A big part of this Summit is celebrating your successes. Did I mention how often we are on to the next thing and don’t do this?
Periodically I offer a complementary webinar titled “5 Smart Ways to Make Money Now in Your Creative Arts Business.”
Before I delve into the five strategies, I spend some time talking about your mindset and knowing your value. From my experience working with creative entrepreneurs, I often find they struggle with determining a value for their work and then charging for it.
Here are some tips for dealing with your worth:
Are you challenged by what to charge for your services?
Many creatives are in this same place. You tend to undercharge because you don’t know what to charge. You look at what others are charging and figure it must be right.
Do you ever wonder how that person came up with her price? She probably did what you did: looked around at what others were charging and figured it was right.
Take the time to go back and determine how long it takes you to accomplish your work. Consider what your expenses are – overhead, taxes, materials, etc. Then determine what you need to make on an hourly basis to meet your expenses and make a profit.
Only then will you know if your price is right.
As I watched the Final Four Tournament on Saturday, I was thinking about what basketball and the professional creative arts have something in common. Is it any surprise my mind would go to art when I’m watching sports?
This is the obvious. These kids love basketball, and for them it is their art. What you pay attention to grows.
Just as the college athletes pay attention to basketball and their skills and love of the game increase, your skill level in your art increases with increased attention. Your knowledge and love of the art grows as you look at more art, go to more galleries, take more classes. And, your skill level at marketing, and your passion at marketing, also increases proportionately to the effort you put into it.
How much effort are you putting into growing your business?
How often do you wear your CFO hat?
You know, the one where you look at the numbers. I realize that lots of creative types do not want to look at numbers.
After all, what could be creative about numbers? They are straightforward, no shades of gray here.
True, the numbers in and of themselves are not creative.
What is creative is what you get to do as a result of looking at them.
You can create new designs or new classes. You can bring on an apprentice to help you. You can look for new markets for your art. You can look at ways to expand and make a bigger impact.
The problem is that you have to know what the state of your business really is.
And the only way to do that is to look at your numbers.
Often I have conversations with clients around a recurring theme — pricing and value.
One recent conversation was with Catherine who was creating a new online teaching course, and she was struggling with what to charge people. I thought her price was really low, and I asked why.
She told me that she just knew not all her customers could afford to take the class and she really wanted everyone to have that opportunity.
I asked how she knew that they could not afford the class. She wasn’t able to answer that question. It was just her gut instinct.
When we dug further with the question, it was really that she would not have paid that amount.
I’m hosting our eighth Creative Arts Business Summit this week. It’s inspiring to be around so many creative people. People with big dreams.
One problem is that while we all have big dreams, they can often get stalled. And, you seem to be repeating what you did yesterday without moving further ahead with your dreams.
You are stuck in a permanent Groundhog Day.
Do you see yourself there?
You’ve spent hours talking about your business ideas. You have the perfect name. You have idea pictures of your website on a Pinterest board. You have a strategy to launch your business. You even have potential customers.
And, then you stop. You start the next day in the same place. Dreaming of starting your own creative arts business. You know you could make a difference. You know the world needs what you have to offer, your art.
And, you look around and realize that you never took the leap. You never even really took the first step to making your dream a reality.
You stayed in your safe spot. Dreaming.
What often holds people back from making this leap is they lack clarity. They lack confidence. They lack support. All three are needed to take the leap.
At CABS I opened the doors for enrollment to our Members’ Studio. Most of those attending are already members and see the difference every day in how their business grows.
They gain clarity. They build confidence. And they have the best support network to move their business forward.
Take this chance to join us and leave Groundhog Day behind.