TwitterPinterestInstagramMembers login

Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

Ditch the Excuse! Take the Leap!

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

I was so honored by the response I got to our recent Creative Passion to Profit Speaker Series. So many of you told me you gained valuable knowledge that you would put to use to grow your business. You took lots of notes and were looking forward to taking your business to the next level. That was my goal, for you to find value and grow.

However, I was saddened by some of the emails I got from those who were not ready or willing to invest in their business, whether that was with me, someone else, or even their own pursuits. One person said that she just didn’t know enough and that is what her big takeaway from the calls was. She was discouraged and wanted to stop working on her art because the road to success was too long. She just had too much to learn. Another person wrote that she was just a beginner and was not ready to invest in her own growth. Someone else lamented the fact that others were so much further along and did not think she could catch up.

Whatever your reasons or excuses – they really are the same thing – at some point you have to take that chance – that leap – to grow your business. If you have faith that you’re following the right dream, that net will appear and catch you as you grow.

What I wanted to say to those who were discouraged about their path and wanted to wait to know more or to be better is:

  1. Don’t put off your dreams. The time to start is now. You will never be further along the path by waiting.
  2. Don’t consider others in the equation. Each of us is on our own journey, moving along the path at our own pace. Those people you are watching started just where you are at one time.
  3. Take time to invest in your own growth, whether that is taking business classes, working with a coach, joining ICAP or creating your own networking group. You need support of some type.

Regardless, you need to take some action to build your business and to realize your dreams. The action will build confidence and you will be surprised how far you will go. When I think about putting off the growth, I think of this old Chinese proverb. It’s humorous, yet true.

“Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait
very, very long time.” ~ Chinese proverb




Boundaries: Can You Set Them? Can You Keep Them?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

I’ll 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 don’t always stick to them. How about you?

When several of my private coaching clients asked about boundaries, I knew it was time for a post on this. We are all tested, whether that’s in our personal lives or our business lives.

What boundaries are might be the first part of the discussion. If we own property, we understand the concept of boundaries. This is where my property begins and what I am responsible for. It’s the same with personal boundaries. It’s where you begin and your sense of responsibility begins. Your business will have boundaries, too. Here are some guidelines for setting boundaries.

  1. Become self-aware. When you get into particular situations, what happens to you? Do you become anxious, lose energy, feel unsure, flee, fight, etc. Being aware of how you respond is the first step to learning to set boundaries that work for you.
  2. Start with simple boundaries or limits. This could take the form of setting your work hours, saying no to extra commitments (or even learning how to say no), placing limits on taking rush orders, only taking personal calls at night, etc.
  3. Once you set your boundaries, you don’t need to defend your position. It just is. If someone questions you on it, you just repeat your position.
  4. Stay committed to your course. If you give in this once, you’ll find yourself giving in again and again. You end up feeling guilty if you don’t. (I think that’s a woman people-pleasing guilt issue.) People will start to ignore your needs. And, you end up back in those feelings I outlined in number 1 above.

You know I like to talk about creating systems in your business. Systems support the business and let you get more done. If you think about it, boundaries are really just systems that help you live your life the best way. They put you in charge of your life. They also help you manage your business the best way for you.

If you want to read more on boundaries, I found a wonderful little book. It’s called It’s called Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

If you aren’t a boundary setter, make a commitment to start this week. Set some standards or boundaries for yourself. Just one boundary and build on that. It will make a big difference.

Please share your experiences with boundaries and what you did about them below.


What’s Your Why?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

photo[1]Saturday was Worldwide Quilting Day. Of course, quilters knew all along it was bigger than a national celebration, so it was nice to share with the rest of the world. The celebration got me thinking about my own quilt beginnings and why I ended up creating a business from what I love. I could actually write a lot about this, but I’ll try to be brief. After all, you’re running a business and need to focus on that!

I did not come from a tradition of quilting, and only after I began quilting did a couple of quilts find their way into my home. I did come from a tradition of sewing and art. My great-great grandmothers were professional seamstresses, and family lore has me threading their needles at the age of three. My mother was a professional watercolorist and taught the subject. So I can see my background was filled with thread and color.

After starting with sewing (and selling) Barbie clothes as a youngster, progressing through my own personal sewing and multitude of arts and crafts (knitting, crochet, embroidery, painting), I happened on a quilt show in the fall of 1976 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. That was all it took for me to ask about classes. As I often share, I had the sewing machine and all those scraps so it couldn’t be a costly hobby.

Fast forward just a couple of years and I wanted to share my new found love of quilting and I began teaching at the local adult ed program. At that point, my accountant suggested I form a business and I did. As I look back over the past 30 plus – yikes – years, I went from teaching to creating patterns to selling my work at arts and craft shows to working in a cooperative to taking commissions. They were all ways for me to express my own creativity and share it with others.

Back in 1994, my business took a turn and I began to work with more creative entrepreneurs who wanted to know how they, too, could create a business from their passion at quilting. That was the beginning of my tenure as editor and publisher of The Professional Quilter. That led eventually to the International Association of Professional Quilters. As I look back, it’s always been about providing information for growth as creative entrepreneurs.

So why do you quilt? I quilt because I love thread and color and creating. It’s fills a deep need in me. Why do you have a quilt business? I have one because I want to empower women (OK, and cool men) who have a passion for creating and sharing that with others to craft a profitable business for themselves from that passion. It’s also about creating a legacy so that Worldwide Quilting Day continues well past the time we all celebrated it.

Please share your thoughts on your “why” below.

Are You Qualified to Begin?

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Do you have some business or personal dreams that are putting off because you think you need to know more before you move forward? Maybe you think you need another art course, or maybe you need that extra marketing course. Or, your website could be better. Or, your quilting skills need to be better to enter that show. Or, you don’t know as much as or are as skilled as someone else. Or,…

Hey, I’ve been there. I’m someone who thrives on knowledge, and I’m always searching to learn more. And, it’s a good thing, except that it can put an obstacle in my path. It’s easy to look for the next course to build my knowledge or skill level instead of taking action, albeit imperfect action. Here are some tips to move you forward:

1. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. It never will be. There will always be more to learn. The best time to start has already passed. The next best time is now.

2. Don’t compare yourself with others. There will always be someone who is further along the path than you. And, remember there are others who not as far as you. You are only where you are and have to start from there. Any action you take at your current level moves you to the next level.

3. Commit and take a bold action. You have something to offer that no one else does. Others are waiting to start; don’t follow that path.

This reminded me of a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

So what are you waiting for? You are definitely qualified to start.

Please share your thoughts below.

Birthdays, Accomplishments & Influence

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

On Monday I received a lovely email from a friend wishing me Happy Birthday and reminding me of all I had accomplished. She also said that I had influenced many more artists than I could imagine. That was a wonderful reminder for me to take some time during the day to reflect on those two thoughts.

I find as entrepreneurs that we often do not take time to look at our accomplishments. We tend to have the end goal in mind and just keep working toward that. We don’t look at all we accomplish, and we often don’t celebrate those we do. Last week I mentioned that I like – or try – to end my day with a review what I accomplished during the day. It’s nice to have a formal mechanism for this, whether it’s a journal you update daily or just notes and the check marks of completed items on your calendar page. What was fun for me was to go back through the year and see what I had accomplished and how I am in a different place today than I was in January.

The second part of my friend’s email was about the influence I had that I didn’t realize. Again, to some extent its the “not looking back” part. I talked some about this recently when I wrote about the ripple effect. Yes, I can see the influence I have on a direct basis. That’s easy. Someone makes more money because I made a suggestion for her business or she starts to build her list of followers because of another. I have a harder time seeing this on a larger scale. It could be an off-hand comment I make to a large group about trying something new. I may never realize that comment set something in motion for someone to create something new, whether that’s artwork or a product; to venture down an uncharted path; or to make positive changes in her life. I think that both the influence I know about AND the influence I don’t are the reasons I find so much joy in what I do.

So thank you, Christine, for the wonderful reminder. And, thank you to my clients, members, followers and e-zine readers for letting me share what I know with you.

When was the last time you looked at what you accomplished? And do you have a formal mechanism for doing this? Do you know who you are influencing?

Please share your thoughts below.

Have you thought about repurposing?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Whether your pace this summer is slower or not, it’s a good time to look at your business and see what you might be able to do with what you already have. It’s called repurposing and you see it all the time in other areas. Disney is a prime example. They often issue re-releases or special editions of their classics. They recreate the excitement, find additional audiences, and make more sales. How can you do this as a quilter or fiber artist? Here are some ideas:

1. If you are a pattern designer, go back to some of your older designs and remake them using different fabrics. Try a really traditional design in contemporary fabrics. Sometimes a fresh look is all that’s needed. Now you can re-issue and promote the pattern as a special or anniversary edition.

2. If you are a teacher, take a look at those classes you’ve been teaching. Do you need brighter samples to post with the descriptions? Could the class titles be jazzed up a bit? Do you have some faster methods you are now using? The new class, with the jazzed-up title is now Completely Revised or Now With Speed Sewing Techniques. This made me think of food manufacturers with the New, Improved signs on their products. If it works for them, it will work for you.

3. If you are a longarm quilter, look at your samples? Are they dated? Try making a set of sample strips using some of those new threads you purchased. You can add them to existing samples, making it all look new again.

4. If you are a shop owner, repurposing is easy and it’s something you are probably doing on a regular basis. When was the last time you redid your displays to give a new look to your shop? Just moving your existing displays can make a difference.

5. If you make and sell a product or notion, what can you do to update it? For example, if you sell hand-dyed fabrics, perhaps you can tweak the formula just a bit, and add a new color in a limited edition. Or take an existing color and rename it.

I’m sure you have lots of ideas about how to repurpose your existing product line. Please share them below.

Are you rippling?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Last week I received an email from Clara Vargas, a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Clara is currently stationed at Shinand Airbase in Afghanistan. Clara and her team of American and International soldiers are tasked with the mission of educating more than 4,000 widowed Afghan women how to sew. The goal is two fold: to show the Afghan people that they can do for themselves rather than rely on charity or terrorists for survival and to show them that American troops are there to keep them safe and to help them rebuild their country for themselves and their children. At the end of 2010, when Lisa Steele, owner of Bella Fabrics in Virginia Beach, Va., and Clara’s home shop owner, learned of the program, she jumped on board and began pulling other shop owners as well as industry giants, such as Checker, into a program to support Clara’s mission. You can learn more about the program at


Back to my email. I received an email from Clara along with some of her other industry contacts letting us know that Lisa had been named 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Isle of Wight County (Va.) Department of Economic Development. Clara and I then traded emails back and forth about the mission and what is happening now. I sent her a copy of the article I wrote last summer in The Professional Quilterand she sent me pictures I’ve placed on the blog and on Facebook of the Afghan women smiling with their new sewing machines.In her email, Clara wrote to me, “I always said, ‘You don’t have to be a Soldier to make a different around the World.’ You’re one of my Heros! I truly LOVE the article.”God is good to me, he provided you to our mission. I thank you again, for keeping our Soldiers safe in Afghanistan, we are winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, and I believe because of that more Soldiers will returned Home to their loved ones.”Her email got me thinking about the ripple effect and how even the smallest thing we do makes a difference. Did I think writing an article and publicizing the mission was keeping solders safe? It’s easy for me to look at what I do and not see something significant. OK, I publish a magazine and coach women on how to grow their creative businesses. If I really think about it, I can see how helping someone grow her business in turn lets her support herself, add to her family support or change how she views the importance of her contribution. But I need to look even further to the people that person will effect. It’s really pretty astounding what one person can do in the scheme of things.

Where are you making ripples? Please share below.

Are You a “What if” Thinker?

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Are you a “What if?” kind of thinker? No, I don’t mean the kind of person who second guesses herself and stays stuck. I mean the kind of person who challenges statements and thinks beyond the obvious.

Last week, I was at a lab waiting to get my blood drawn for routine testing. A woman drove in on her motorized wheelchair and asked if someone owned the silver Buick parked in the back lot. The car was blocking her access to her van. (Before you think the owner of the Buick parked in the handicapped space, he was legally parked. She just needed more space on both sides of her van.) No one came forward, and off she went down the hall to the next doctor’s office. I’m not sure how many offices she had tried already. At this point, I thought that if someone just moved her van out of the space into the open lot, she could get on her way. That was my “What if?”  So I went to find her as she left yet another office. We went outside to find her van, and I backed it up. She was able to get into the van and was on her way. It was a rather simple answer to her problem, and one she had not considered.

What would you have done? Would you have tried to think of another possibility? (I should say I was number 27 in line, with 11 people in front of me, so I did have time on my hands.)

We are all in situations that can challenge our thinking. As artists, we are faced with choices every day, red or blue, solid or print, embellishment or not. As business people, we make decisions about where to market our product, which trade show to participate in. Next time you make a decision, make it and then ask yourself what if I try something different on top of the solution. For example, if you choose red over blue and a solid over a print, great. Now decide to do something different with the fabric. If you decide to exhibit at Quilt Market, ask yourself what you can do differently with your booth this time to make it different. Think beyond the obvious or what you’ve done in the past.

How have you challenged your thinking lately? Please share below.

Do You SWOT?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

One of my favorite business tools is the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. After completing your SWOT analysis, you should be able to set goals and make plans that let you capitalize on on your opportunities and minimizing any potential threats, all while keeping your business strengths and weaknesses in mind.

So how do you actually do the SWOT analysis? Easy. Just get out a piece of paper or your journal and draw four columns. Label them S-W-O-T and start brainstorming. Consider internal factors, i.e., those within your control, and external factors, i.e., those outside your control. Look at competitive factors, environmental factors, technological factors, economic factors, sociological factors and political factors as they affect your SWOT.

When is a SWOT analsyis helpful? I like doing one each year when I review my goals. It’s also a helpful tool whenever you are considering a new product or big change to your business.

Do use use a SWOT analysis now? If not, what is your favorite business planning tool? Please share your thoughts below.

Do You Know Your Big Why?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

During the Creative Arts Business Training Series I did a couple of weeks ago, I talked about clarity in a number of areas. One of those areas is getting clear on what your “Big Why” is. That’s the term that both of my coaches have used. I look at your Big Why as the piece behind the vision for your business and how it fits into your life, why you do what you do.

For years I never really gave it much thought. I was working to add income to our family coffers. When I first started my business, it was actually at my accountant’s suggestion. He saw I loved quilting and thought I could turn it into a business on the side. That was great, though I never really gave it much more thought. As the years went by, the business grew and changed. I earned a graduate degree in journalism and thought how wonderful it would be to combine the quilting and journalism together, which I did. Again, not really giving it a huge amount of thought. The past couple of years, I decide to actually put real thought into the process and can now articulate what I do and why. I can tell you that knowing this absolutely makes a difference. Once you figure our your “big why,” you complete your tasks, reach your goals, lifve your life with so much more ease.

OK, so how do you figure out your Big Why? Here are a couple ideas.

1. If you are having a hard time asking yourself why, instead complete the sentence: “I am doing this because ….”  or “I’m doing this so that….”

2. Take a look at your top passions and try to see what they have in common. That can lead you to your why.

3. What gets you out of bed in the morning and drives you to take inspired action.

4. Remember that the why is the driving force behind our actions. We need strong, or Big, Whys to keep going.

5. Our Big Whys can change over time so it’s a good exercise to look at yours on a yearly basis.

Please share your Big Why below.

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).