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Archive for the ‘Systems’ Category

Are you leaving money on the table?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018


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.

Ideas that you didn’t act 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.

Read more…

generating blog ideas

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


To write or not to write.

One of the challenges my clients often have is blog writing, probably more specifically what to write about. I think it’s because more often than not, they feel more comfortable with the visual art than the written art. In fact, many of them do not want to blog at all. Today, though, blogging is important if we are to connect with our customers.

When faced with the blank blog page, many people don’t know where to start. I like to carry a small notebook or 3 x 5 card with me in case my muse strikes. How many times have you been out and about and something struck you, you thought you’d remember and, of course, you didn’t?

At home, I keep a 3 x 5 card on my desk for the same purpose. You might use Evernote or even a napkin at a restaurant, just something to catch that fleeting thought.

What exactly do I put on the note card? Here are some ideas that I use to get started:

Often it’s just a key phrase to remind myself of a topic. I might also overhear someone say something that strikes me. I might pick up a magazine at home or more often when I’m in a waiting room and some phrase strikes me. It might even be an article on a specific topic and that sets me in a direction. I’ve found ideas when I’ve been reading a novel. I’ve found ideas when I was caught up in Pinterest. I even got an idea during our ICAP Business Call this yesterday. Problem is, if I don’t take time to capture this idea, it’s gone, and I’m back at the beginning wondering what I’m going to write about.

Someone once asked me if was plagiarizing if I was using something I read somewhere else. I’m not stealing someone’s idea; I’m using it as a jumping off point for what I’m doing. I’m writing in my own voice and fitting the message to fit my brand.

The goal is to be inspired and inspiration is everywhere. If I’ve got this running of ideas and phrases, I’m never at a loss for inspiration.

Where do you get your blog inspiration?

photo credit: Blogger, after Vilhelm Hammershøi via photopin (license)

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Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at


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Do you have a rewards jar?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

rewards jar

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. I had been taking time to look at what I accomplished and plan ahead on a weekly basis for years. When I started working with private clients and ICAP members, I shared this more formal practice with them.

A big part of this Summit is celebrating our successes. Did I mention how we often are on to the next thing and don’t do this?

Since most of us work in isolated environments, i.e., not an outside workplace with lots of co-workers, it’s up to us to reward ourselves. I like the idea of putting a reward on a piece of paper, putting it in the jar and then picking something out for yourself when it’s time to celebrate.

As for what kind of reward you create, you need to think about what motivates you. We all have different motivators. A bike ride through the park may be just what you need. For someone else that bike ride is a painful reminder of exercise. And, not everyone enjoys a hot bubble bath or a massage. For you, maybe it’s a trip to a nice restaurant, a visit to a new gallery, a game of toss with your dog or a shopping spree for a new pair of shoes. This past week I celebrated with three bunches of beautiful tulips.

How to figure out what really motivates you? It’s often that activity that brings a smile to your face. Spend some time making a list of those activities, write them on individual pieces of paper and collect them in a jar or even a fabric bowl. As you look back over your successes this week, don’t forget to reward yourself.

Please share your what’s in your reward jar below.

How We Do Things Around Here

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

how we do thingsSince I was away for International Quilt Market and International Quilt Festival, it was important that my business continued to operate as if I was still in the office. How did I do this? Systems were a big part of the answer.

Have you given any thought to systems in your business? I know many creative arts professionals who have no systems for processes. They, in essence, reinvent the wheel every time they do the same task again. I have heard that any task that is done more than once or twice can be systematized, and this lets you work smarter not harder.

To me, a system is really a written outline of “how we do things around here.”

My favorite resources for understanding systems are any of the E-Myth books by Michael E. Gerber. Gerber often talks about working on your business rather than in your business. His solution is to consider your business as the prototype for a franchise operation and create systems so processes can be done at the lowest level possible. He does not expect you to create a franchise; he wants you to understand how systems help you create and build a successful business.

When you have systems in place, you are better able to use your time for what I like to call your brilliance. For creative people this results in spending more time creating your product or generating new ideas and less on administrative or tasks someone else could be doing.

First, look at the activities you do that are repeated. This can be something done daily or weekly or quarterly. Take the time to write down the actions step-by-step. The second time you need to do the activity, use your written system and refine it. I have spent time creating an operations manual outlining steps for a variety of our activities. It did take me time to put together the systems, and in the end it was definitely worth it. I am able to have others complete many of the tasks now, and in a pinch, I can pitch in and find following the system takes less time.

Here are some ways that quilters, fiber artists and other creative entrepreneurs can use systems:

    1. Are you an artist who shows your work? Create a written system to contact and follow-up with gallery representatives, a system to ship your work or hang your work in a local gallery, a system for following up with potential buyers. If these are written down, you will have an easier time each time you or someone else completes the task.


    1. Do you have templates for forms or letters that can be used again and again? This could be the press release for your new pattern release or the gallery show that you customize.


    1. Do you have a system to gather the names of visitors to your website, possibly offering them an incentive? If not, you are losing the opportunity to contact potential customers.


    1. Are you a pattern designer? If you look at the processes involved in creating a pattern, you will find areas to systematize. One would be to create a style sheet listing the fonts, spacing, formatting, etc., of your pattern. Another would be your system for order fulfillment.


    1. Are you a longarm quilter? Do you have an order form with questions you need to ask each new client? Do you have a system for loading the quilts? This could actually be a task that you could teach someone else to do, freeing up time for you.


    1. Do you spend time online marketing your business with a newsletter, blog, Facebook and Twitter? When I taught a class on Social Media Marketing this summer, I suggested that people set aside 15-20 minutes each day to focus on listening to what is on social media, responding to it and participating in conversations. I also suggested setting aside an hour or so one day a week to create articles for your newsletter or blog posts.


What kinds of systems have you created? How do you do things where you are? Take some time this week to look at where you can create a system, select one and document each step, and share your results on our blog. Once you have created systems, not only do you have the exact steps to follow, the chance of forgetting steps is virtually eliminated.

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Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at

How Are Your Survival Skills?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

small__5773915337Earlier this week I was talking with a long-time friend about some changes we had each made in our lives, both personally and professionally. During the conversation I noted that I was giving up some of my survival skills. You know, the ones that have been in place forever and that can operate on auto-pilot, whether you need them or not.

You might wonder what I mean by “survival skills.” I am referring to a way of being that has served us in the past. One example for me would be perfectionism. I am sure you have several, too.

Why do we hang onto these? One reason is our ego. We do not want anything to interfere with how we perceive ourselves, or how we think others perceive us. We want to protect our ego. Problem is that while these “skills” worked for us in the past, we don’t consider whether they still serve us today. And, in many cases, they do not.

As entrepreneurs, we don’t generally have the freedom to have someone else give us feedback. When you have someone helping you, whether that is a mentor, coach, supervisor, you can get a different perspective, a view to see how you are functioning – or not.  What happens as entrepreneurs is that we can get caught up in the ego-driven world and can get stuck. And if we do not take the time to look at those “survival skills,” we can stay stuck and our businesses do not grow.

We all need that mirror that lets us to see what survival skills we need to give up. That mirror can be hard to find, so try to spend time reflecting on what could be holding you back. Take time to journal. If you have a good friend or mentor, ask her with an open mind on what her feedback will be.

Lastly ask yourself, “What is the payoff?” If I am having a hard time letting something go, I need to figure out what is good about hanging onto it. This really lets me have clarity about the issue.

When I started reflecting on some of my survival skills that I am letting go and the resistance I had around a few, I was reminded of the quote from  author Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

My question to you is, What “survival skills” are you holding onto?

photo credit: mfhiatt via photopin cc

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.


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