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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:

Be clear about your goals.

Know where you are trying to go in your business. Figure out what matters and what does not. Not everything you want to do is something you need to do. Clarity is key. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” If you figure out what matters, then you know where to focus your time. That focus leads to action and that will lead to results.

Measure what matters

What you pay attention to grows. When was the last time you looked at your numbers? And, how often do you look at your numbers? Some of what you want to measure includes your profit and loss, your cash flow, the size of your list, and the numbers of followers/fans that you have on social media.

Focus on your Big Three

Focus on your big three tasks on your to-do list before you tackle the other items. It is so easy to look for the easy tasks and get them done. Instead, look at what the three are that will move the needle and do them first. These are really your “must-dos.” Categorizing your to-do list and then moving the non-must-dos out of sight is a way to do this. This is easy with online task management tools, such as Trello or Nozbe.

Try time blocking

Block your time so you work more efficiently and batch your tasks. Blocking refers to creating appointments in your calendar for specific work that you will get done. You usually honor appointments that others ask to make with you. Now is time to honor appointments with yourself to get done what matters. Batching tasks refers to doing like work at the same time, rather than stopping and starting through the day. A few examples. If you do commission work, set times that people can drop off work or talk with you. If you sell framed art, do all the framing at the same time. If you design patterns, do the editing for more than one pattern at the same time. On a bigger scale, you may set Monday as your marketing day, Friday as your financial day, Wednesday mornings as your follow-up time. Specific tasks take specific skills and you are more efficient if you use that skill in a block of time rather than starting over again multiple times.

Connect with your peeps

Look for ways to connect. After all, money comes into your business through people, so it is important to connect with them. First you have to know who your peeps are. Then you have to know where they are hanging out. Once you do, make a concerted and consistent effort to connect. This may be on social media, at formal networking events, or through personal correspondence.

Get offline

We spend so much of our time online — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, email — that it is easy to fall down the rabbit hole. You do not get done what matters. Figure out how you can spend less time online. I had more than one client who liked to play Words With Friends during the day, and it became a problem that affected their productivity. The solution is to schedule time for this distraction when you are not working. If you need more than your own self-control, here are some apps you might check out: Freedom, Stay Focused, Self-Control and Cold Turkey.


Delegation is hard for many people. When you get right down to it, people are paying for what is your brilliance. For example, they are paying for your art skills, your design skills, etc. They are not paying for your framing, packaging, or pattern stuffing skills. They are not paying for your administrative skills. Look for someone who can take over some of your tasks, so you can work in your brilliance.

Say no more often

It is so easy to say yes to everything that is asked, and that is where the problem starts. By learning to say no more often, you are able to say yes to what matters, both in your personal and business life. Want to read more on saying no. Here’s a blog post on the topic.

Invest in yourself

You have several options to do this. I believe the fastest way to move forward is to hire a coach or join a group with a coaching component like ICAP Members’ Studio. This saves you time and money in the long run.

A second way to invest in yourself is through attending seminars and workshops. I try to attend at least two a year. I come away with action items that will make a difference in my business.

The third way is to read books. I read a lot of books and find that every book has more than one nugget that will move the needle in my business. In fact, I like reading so much that I added a monthly book club to our Members’ Studio.

It’s your turn!

Moving is an action verb and that is what this is about — taking action. What is the first step you will take to move your business forward?



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4 Responses to “Move the Needle in Your Creative Arts Business”

  1. Elaine Perez said:

    Great post working on those these week actually… going back to tweak the three big things and the block scheduling, again . Thanks Morna

  2. Morna said:

    Elaine, sometimes we all just need a reminder to get things moving in the right direction. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Penni Domikis said:

    Saying NO more often is something I need to work on. I was just reminded of that this week when a project I put effort into fell flat because the person I chose to do business with didn’t follow through. It’s such a poor reflection on me and I could feel issues from the very beginning. Had I said NO I would not have this problem.

  4. Morna said:

    Penni, That ‘no’ is hard for all of us. Unfortunately, we sometimes get that unwelcome reminder to keep us in check.

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