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?
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?
As a creative entrepreneur, you probably struggle with a never ending to-do list. I know I do. Even as your business grows and you have assistance, it can still seem overwhelming to get everything done in the allotted time you have.
The goal of your business is to make money. Otherwise, you have a hobby.
The key is to put money generating activities (MGAs) at the top of that list.
If you look at the last five things you did in your business, how many were related to sales or marketing in your business?
You need to prioritize those activities if you are going to bring income into your business. Remember that money flows where your attention goes.
How good are you at follow-up? You know, that is where the money is.
I was talking with a few of my clients who were heading back from Quilt Market with lots of follow-up items. Some were clearly immediate, such as filling orders, and those get processed right away.
The problem for my clients was that they came back with all these notes that weren’t really money related or where they couldn’t see the clear money connection or where they couldn’t remember the conversation. Plus they felt overwhelmed getting back in gear. And, the follow-up is in question.
What I have found through the years is that when I pay attention to following up on a consistent and timely basis, it lets me build better relationships, which is really my goal, and that means adding to my business bottom line.
It’s the beginning of October and, if you are at all like me, you’ve look at the end of the year and at all you want to accomplish before then. It could be trade shows, new patterns or programs, a rush to get your sales where you projected. And, then, of course, the holidays — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah — will be here before you know it.
Recently on my way to Maryland’s Eastern Shore, I got caught in a mass of slow traffic. Anyone from these parts knows we only have one way to reach the beach, and that’s using the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Annapolis. Its two spans date to 1952 and 1973 and can’t handle today’s traffic. Slow-downs and waits are a normal occurrence, particularly during the summer, so I try to time my trip to avoid them. Despite my best efforts, I was stopped.
Because of the nature of the journey, my GPS isn’t of much use. It can’t re-route me across the water! As I edged along, I thought about the GPS you set for your business.
Your car’s GPS won’t work without a starting and ending point. It’s the same in your business. You need to know where you are now and where you want to go.
We’re into the last six months of the year. Just where did the first six months go?!
Our ICAP Members’ Studio peeps regularly look at their numbers. How about you?
Have you look at your numbers for the first six months? What did you discover? Were you on track or were your results not quite what you were expecting?
I talked with one of my private clients recently about this, and she said she needed a cash infusion. I think finding that cash infusion comes down to two items: ideas you didn’t take action on and things you didn’t follow-up on.
First are those items you didn’t take action on. One of my good friends has something she calls “the $5,000 notebook.” I bet you have a similar notebook full of cash and you don’t even know it.
Do you often make notes of the great ideas you had? You know, the new pattern you wanted to create, the class you think you should develop, the cards to print based on your paintings, the new line of jewelry you want to work on.
One day recently I was stopped at a railroad bridge and started thinking about what we learned as kids about crossing the train tracks. Stop, look, and listen. Do you remember that?
The next morning I looked at the mountain of work on my desk – as well as those bright, shiny objects across the room – and wondered where I should start. I picked up the task on the top and started to work.
Shortly I became distracted and found myself on the way to the kitchen for another cup of tea.
Back to my desk. What was I working on?
The last time I was at our home on the Chesapeake Bay, our neighbor’s grandkids were visiting. They were having a great time skipping stones across the water. Do you remember doing that as a kid or with your kids or grandkids?
The effect, of course, is that you can see ripples in the water. And the more ripples, the better.
Have you ever thought about the ripples you make with your business? I want to share four stories about ripples.