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Is your smartphone stealing your creativity?

April 12th, 2017 by Morna

Do you have a love/hate relationship with your smart phone? I know I do. I love how convenient it makes everything. Google is at your fingertips; so is Instagram, Facebook and Words With Friends. Your camera is always at the ready for the moment you see something inspiring or something you want to share.

The problem is that the constant readiness or attention to your phone could be affecting your creativity. Studies have shown that you need “boredom” to be creative. You need time to just be and let your mind wander. If you are always connected to your phone, this doesn’t happen.

Some of you remember before the days of cell phones when we didn’t have the distractions. Free time was spent playing outdoors or using your imaginations creating indoor games and stories. Here are a couple of ideas to limit use of your smartphone and instead recapture some of that lost creativity.

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What’s Your Definition of Success?

April 5th, 2017 by Morna

 

I was recently chatting with a long-time client, Beth, about what success meant to her. She told me that her definition of success was quite unlike that of our mutual friend Priscilla. From the outside Priscilla had lots of “achievements” that we could see. For Beth, success looked more like a balance in her life and a feeling of contentment. Sure, she had achieved a great deal to those who looked, but that wasn’t how she measured success.

What does success look like to you? Webster’s defines it as a favorable or desired outcome or the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence. The bottom line is that success relates to goals. You set the goals and you determine whether or not you are successful.

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Save Money With Tax Tips for Creatives

March 29th, 2017 by Morna

 

Yes, it’s tax time again. As a self-employed business owner, it’s important for you to have a handle on your business and know what is deductible and what isn’t.

Invariably when I talk about taxes with creative entrepreneurs, someone will tell me they have an accountant. “Terrific,” I say. “But what does she know about your business in particular?” You go to an accountant because she knows taxes. She can be very knowledgeable about small businesses, but she cannot know the nuances of every type of small business. She works with what you give her. That’s why it’s important for you to do your own research, understand tax strategies and keep track of deductions to which you are entitled. Here are nine tips for maximizing those deductions. To be sure that these apply in your particular instance, be sure to discuss with your accountant.

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Exercise Your “Done” Muscle

March 22nd, 2017 by Morna

 

Recently I chatted with my client Bethany about her problems getting things done. She seemed to make little progress on what she said her goals were. She would start a project then get distracted by something else. Or she would start a project, then think another project sounded more exciting and she would shift her focus. And, often she ended up caught because she missed deadlines. Then she felt worse because she let people other than herself down.

As we talked about this, we hit on a number of reasons that were at play: procrastination; the need to be perfect; distractions by other things, aka Bright Shiny Object Syndrome; failure to prioritize. You may have others.

So how can you get the right things done? Here are nine tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.

1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it is much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you make progress.

2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it is always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

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Are you just a …?

March 15th, 2017 by Morna

A couple years ago, I was at a gallery opening with some creative women, and they were each sharing what they did. After hearing one woman say she was a mixed-media artist and another say she was a photograph, the third said, “I’m just a longarm quilter.”

Why did this person’s passion become a “just a?” And why did she think she was “less than”?

If you grew up in the 60s with the women’s liberation movement, you might remember hearing people say “just a housewife.” I can remember thinking I would never be know as “just a.” In actuality, being a housewife is probably the hardest job around, raising healthy, happy and productive kids. It’s definitely not “just a.”

Back to the artists I met. I know that this longarm quilter is not the only one who says “just a” when someone asks what she does.  Maybe she has second thoughts about the phrase, and I hope she does. Maybe she doesn’t.

When I started to reflect on what this woman said, I wondered where she placed her value.

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Give Up Time Management!

March 8th, 2017 by Morna

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Do you ever feel like you are so caught up in the everyday, ongoing activity in your business that you can’t actually find time to make decisions about your business?

Do you take on tasks that you shouldn’t?

Do you really need to be the person who runs to the post office to mail off the patterns you sold?
Do you need to run to the office supply shop when you are out of staples?

If the answer is yes, when do you have time to look at your numbers and make hiring or buying decisions if this is how you spend your time? We all know the answer to that one; you don’t.

While you may not see yourself in the above scenario, I’m sure you aren’t always working smarter in your business. And, it’s not really a function of managing time. We all have the same 24 hours. It’s more about managing energy. You can actually do something about your energy. And, if you can learn how to manage your energy, then you can put attention and focus where they belong — on your business.

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Have you entered the CABS Scholarship contest?

March 7th, 2017 by Morna

I believe that anyone who is serious about starting and building a creative arts business should have the chance to learn the best success and business strategies. The place to do that is the Creative Arts Business Summit. The sixth annual Creative Arts Business Summit is March 30-April 1, and we have several partial scholarships available due to a generous donation from an attendee.

CABS, as those who come call it, is the place to learn with other creative entrepreneurs — just like you — to take your business to the next level.

This event is all about digging into your business so you can create the business, and life, of your dreams. Stop being your own best kept secret.

Learn tools and techniques to stay ahead of the curve in today’s digital world.

Leave with a custom designed revenue plan that works for you and a network that continues to support you day in and day out.

Bonus sessions on creating a video strategy and learning how to create more sales.

Why just wish that your creative business was more successful. Get out of your own way and take the steps to make this happen.

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Thank You for Your Business!

March 1st, 2017 by Morna

When was the last time you sent a letter via the US Postal Service to thank someone? When was the last time you received one?

I know that today we are all about digital. However, I think you are missing the boat if you don’t add some higher touch activities to your marketing and/or customer service efforts. By marketing, I don’t mean selling. I mean inviting people get to know, like and trust you.

Personal hand-written notes are the perfect way for you to build that connection. A simple note only requires a few of minutes of your time and a first-class postage stamp.

The rewards for both parties are way beyond that. You will feel good doing this. The recipient will feel appreciated. I’ve seen examples of people sharing their thank you notes on social media or in their blogs, making even more people feel good. What a great example of word-of-mouth marketing. Remember, the more people learn about you, the better.

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Does Your Elevator Speech Need a Lift?

February 22nd, 2017 by Morna

 

I live in an area (Washington, DC) where the first question you often hear is, “What do you do?” While it may not always be the first question, at some point it usually comes up. And, I’m sure that’s not unusual in other parts of the country. People are just trying to get to know people they don’t already know.

Do you have an elevator speech? You know, that 30 to 60 seconds or so that explains what you do and will engage the person you are talking with into asking more questions. It’s supposed to be succinct so that you that you could really deliver it in a quick elevator trip.

The problem is that most elevator speeches are boring or long-winded or both. Haven’t you tuned out when someone launched into his or her corporate titles? I remember when I moved some years back, and my new neighbor said, “Hi, I’m Chuck. I’m an attorney.” Yikes! A real conversation starter.

Most of you are creatives and the idea of a set elevator speech is cringe-worthy. After all, elevator speeches can sound so canned and “markety.” Thing is that you have a business and you cannot grow that business if you don’t market.

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Can’t Choose Between Thai and Italian for dinner?

February 15th, 2017 by Morna

 

Last week one of my clients was talking about how worn out she was from making decisions. The decisions themselves might seem small to you. Cathy had to decide between frames for her latest pieces of art, choose a brand of paints to use with a new project, find a photographer to shoot headshots for her website, set a time for an appointment for a potential gallery showing, and consider whether or not to book time for an art retreat. Now it was time to choose an outfit for her gallery opening.

Cathy had made lots of decisions and wasn’t ready to make another. She told me she was opting for an old outfit from the back of her closet. It didn’t fit that well and didn’t showcase her artistic brand in its best light. She said that she just didn’t have the energy to go the store and get something special to wear.

Seems kind of silly on the surface. She had made what we might think of as everyday decisions for her business. The final decision about her outfit was an important decision in her ongoing quest to build a brand, yet she was stuck. I told her she was likely suffering from decision fatigue.

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