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Posts Tagged ‘goals’

Want to Play a Bigger Game in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

I went on a personal retreat last week. In addition to all the museum visiting, one of the things I did on my retreat was to reflect on all the changes in my business in 2011 and the big plans I have for 2012. I guess you’ve heard about the Creative Arts Business Summit! That would be my big plan. Do you have big plans for 2012? Why not set a plan to play bigger in 2012? Here are some ways to help you.

1. Set a stretch goal.

I’ve often heard of this as a breakthrough goal. The idea is that once you achieve such a goal, you break through to a new level in your business. Look back to a really big goal you set and how you felt when you achieved it. Could you really go back to how you felt before? Look for a goal that would make a really big difference in your business and focus a little each day until you achieve it. It could be writing that book you keep thinking about or getting your portfolio together and actually contacting galleries to show your work or submitting your teaching proposal to a national show.

2. Take action.

Achieving any goal is all about taking action, whether that’s giant steps or baby steps. Both will get you there. Decide today to take some action each day toward your stretch goal. Write down what you plan to do each day.

3. Track your results and make necessary adjustments.

Every day take time to look at what you accomplished that day. I also like to do a weekly review. When you do this and see yourself moving toward your goal, you’ll build your confidence and keep going.

4. Get support.

Support comes in many varieties. It can be a coach (that’s one of my favorite support systems) or mentor. It can be business friends also growing, and you’ll network and encourage each other. It can be a class environment where you learn something to build your business. And, it can be family members if they understand that you are trying to grow. Be sure the people on your support team are people like you, truly invested in their own success and who want you to succeed as well.

5. Watch your mindset.

This one stops a lot of us. “What we think, we become.” said the Buddha. Take action to eliminate negativity and small thinking from your life. Read or listen to uplifting books, leave affirmations where you’ll see them and start a gratitude journal. These seem like simple steps, and they are. They can have a profound effect on your goals.

Lastly, I want to share my favorite resource for planning my year, Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler. It’s the book I took on my personal retreat. I’ve recommended it before and everyone who uses this process finds it valuable. I’ve reprinted the review from last year below.

Please share your thoughts below.

What’s Clarity Got to Do With It?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Despite the title of this piece sounding rather Tina Turnerish to me, I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about what I want in a variety of areas. In other words, I’ve been looking for clarity. It’s so easy to get bogged down with all the what ifs and fuzzy thinking. Ever been there?

What do you need clarity on? When I work with some clients, that’s our first step. Clarity is really the foundation of success both in your business and your personal life.

You need to be clear on the direction you are going. What is your end goal? If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?

You need to be clear on who your client is. We can’t be everything to all people, though I do know people who try. In one class I taught, I had a student who wanted to turn every quilter into an appliqué artist. While that was an admirable goal, her time would have been exhausted trying to accomplish this. She would have been more effective targeting beginning quilters to get them started.

You need to be clear on the financial realities of your business. Where does your income come from? What are your expenses? How much do you need to earn to provide support for yourself?

Those are just a few of the many areas that require clarity. I’m sure you can find other areas where you are searching for clarity. It could be something big, like what my coaches call your “Big Why,” or it could be something smaller, like the name of your new pattern.

It’s easy to figure out what you need to be clear on – you hear the muddled voices. How do you find clarity? Here are a few approaches to tune into the right little voice inside so you can listen.

1. Create a vision board. The easy approach is to go through magazines and find things that resonate with you. It could be colors, words, pictures of places you want to visit, quilts you want to make or techniques you want to learn. Glue them onto a piece of poster board and leave it in a place where you’ll see it. I find that just searching for the items to put on my vision board helps me get clearer.

2. Keep a journal. Note your day’s activities, how you felt about what happened, any insights you might have. You might even ask a question and brainstorm on ideas or let the answer just come to you. Go back and read your earlier entries. The more you journal about something, the clearer it becomes.

3. Be grateful. If you are grateful every day, you can start to replace confusion with clarity. I keep a gratitude journal.

4. Spend time alone in nature. You may feel most at peace in a certain type of setting. For me it’s the water. So when I need to gain clarity, I will often sit by the water. Clarity often comes just “being,” and this environment lets me “be.”

5. Let go of the question. Sometimes by no longer putting your attention on something the answer will just come to you.

And, finally remember when I started looking at the letters in the word “success”? For me, the first C is for clarity.

Here’s a quote on clarity from Scottish writer Richard Holloway that I like:

Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.

Please share your thoughts on clarity below.

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Six Reason to Hire a Coach or Mentor

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Last week I signed up to work with a new mentor, Fabienne Frederickson, when I joined her Platinum Coaching Program. Fabienne is known as the “Client Attraction Mentor on Marketing & Mindset.”

I’m a big believer in seeking help from mentors for business and personal growth, and I can’t wait to see where I go in the next year. Here are five good reasons to work with a coach or mentor.

1. A coach helps you think and play bigger. Because a coach isn’t involved in the nitty-gritty aspects of your business, she doesn’t get bogged down in your day-to-day details. She can see the big – and bigger – picture. This is particularly enhanced with a mastermind group. I’ve been amazed at how large my coaches and mastermind partners want me to play. Yes, it can be scary, but once you start thinking big, it’s impossible to go back.

2. A coach can keep you accountable. Your coach can help you keep on track by having you report weekly on your accomplishments. She’s able to help you make a commitment and stick to it. One of my coaching clients remarked that she’s accomplished more in the first two weeks than she did in six months and attributes it to having to be accountable to me on a weekly basis.

3. A coach can be another source of creative ideas and feedback. During one of our monthly calls recently, someone asked for a suggestion about how to do a video of her machine quilting studio. It was easy for me to think about how to approach this, and she loved the idea I came up with. It’s always easier to look at someone else’s business, and a different perspective can make the difference.

4. A coach can help you create your vision and, more specifically, a road map to get there. We all have dreams. Accomplishing them is something else. A coach can help you get clear about what’s important to you and set a plan for achievement.

5. A coach can help you build on your strengths, learn how to attack obstacles, and look for opportunities to grow your business. Yes, we all have roadblocks to growth, business or personal. A coach can help you identify what is hindering your progress and help you focus your thinking process toward growth.

6. A coach is also your personal cheerleader, ready to encourage and motivate you toward your goals.

In the end what a coach does is challenge you to be your best. And, if you put your best self out there, you’ll grow, both personally and professionally, and you’ll help more people.

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson about playing big, letting our lights shine. Perhaps you can relate:

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson about playing big, letting our lights shine. Perhaps you can relate:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light,
not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant
to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Please share your thoughts on our blog and if you are interested in exploring our coaching program, here’s a link.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Exercise Your “Done” Muscle

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

A lot of us have problems getting things finished. Several reasons come to mind: procrastination, the need to be perfect, distractions by other things, failure to prioritize. Here are eight 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’s much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you 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’s always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

3. Look for where you need help. Just because you have a big project, doesn’t mean that you need to do it all yourself. Remember, it’s not necessary to know how to do everything, just what needs to be done.

4. Prioritize what needs to be done. This can apply to a specific project or your daily “to do” list. It’s easy to look for the quick and uncomplicated things to do each day so you can check them off the list. The problem is you aren’t really accomplishing what you need to accomplish. What you should be doing is tackling those projects that move you towards completing your goal.

5. Consider the ROI. That’s Return on Investment. You can look at your tasks and see if time spent doing these tasks is worth your time. Maybe you should delegate the tasks or not even do them at all.

6. Finish what you start. Make that your goal. Really look around at how many people actually finish what they set out to do. Many people say they are going to do something and don’t ever complete it.

7. Remember good enough is often good enough. Sometimes we spend so much time aiming for perfection that we don’t accomplish our goals.

8. Don’t over-think everything. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”

If you have a tip for exercising your “done” muscle, please share it on the blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Intentions vs. Resolutions

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Are you a New Year’s resolution maker? I used to be, and probably like many of you some resolutions fell by the wayside.

Several years ago I decided to try something new. I’ve picked a word or two to reflect and act on for the year; it is my intention for all I do. I started this practice in my yoga class. Kathy, the owner of the yoga studio, passes around a basket with words, and we each draw one. This year I missed the first day of class, and Kathy saved the basket, as she knew I would want my word. Yesterday in class, I picked my 2011 word.

The word I drew is mindfulness, which I think is a good one. Those in our Setting and Achieving Goals call last week may remember I mentioned being present in certain goal areas. This will keep that in the forefront for me.

I also like to pick a word on my own that I think will influence my work towards my goals. The word I chose early this year is abundance. For me this means I want to earn abundantly, to share abundantly and to give abundantly. They are all tied together. I can’t give abundantly if I don’t earn abundantly. I can’t earn abundantly if I don’t share abundantly. I also like how mindfulness can tie into this.

I’ve taken both words and have them on notes at my computer so I can reflect on them as I work. Last year, several readers of this e-zine told me they made fiber art of their words. If you did that this year, please share links to your words on our blog.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here

Tips to Achieving Your Goals

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Did you spend time in the last few weeks setting goals both personally and for your business? Are you making progress on them?

Are your goals written? That’s a big key to achieving them. Written goals have the odds stacked in their favor. I think it’s because you spend time to get clear about what you want, and that lets you focus on your end result. Here are some more tips to achieving big results with your goal setting.

1. Make at least one goal a stretch goal. The definition of a stretch goal would be one that is big and possible, one might seem unattainable with your current skill set, one that will cause you to grow. What this does is challenge you to think outside the box. It also energizes and excites you as you figure out how you’ll achieve it.

2. Figure out why the goal is so important to you and what you’ll give up to make it happen. For example, if one of your goals is to increase your income by 10%, it might be important because you want to remodel your studio. If you know your why, it will help keep you stay focused on your goal. At the same time consider if you need to give up something to help in the effort. Again using the same example, maybe you need to give up that after-dinner TV show and read something that can help you build your business.

3. Chunk down each goal into tasks. Look at the date when you choose to have your goal complete and work backwards with a list of tasks. Breaking it down makes it seem less formidable and keeps you on track.

4. Take action and track it. It sounds simple, yet people don’t always take action. Chunking it down helps a lot here. I also like to use a tracking form to check off where I am on my goals. Using our example above, you could start to chart your income each week. That way you can see if you are on track, and, if not, consider what you can change to meet your goal.

5. Find an accountability partner. It helps if you have  someone on your side, cheering and prodding. I am in a mini-mastermind group with three of the women from the high-level mastermind I was in last year. We all know each others’ businesses and can offer input and a gentle push if we’re behind.

6. Reward yourself. If you are making progress on your goals, treat yourself to something. You could even decide your reward ahead of time. Back to our example, maybe you get a massage if your financial goal is on track at the end of the month.

Good luck with achieving your goals. And, feel free to share your ideas on the here.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

5 Year-End Tax Tips

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

As the year is winding down, you can still make decisions that may lower your tax bill. Here are five for you to consider with input from your accountant:

1. Review your business books. You need a clear picture of your earnings and expenses before you make any decisions. Ask your accountant or bookkeeper if you should be tracking something you aren’t.

2. Defer income. Unless you expect to make considerably more income in 2011 when our tax rates will likely be higher, you might want to defer income until after the first of the year. If this is the case, send out your invoices late this month so you won’t receive payment until January.

3. Increase your expenses. Stock up on business equipment and supplies before year end. Pay some of your bills early.

4. Contribute to your retirement plan. Review requirements for payments to your plan. If you don’t already have an individual 401(k), you may want to set up one before the end of the year.

5. Give. Charitable donations are tax deductible if you have a receipt.

These strategies apply differently to each business owner based on her particular situation. Since I’m not a financial professional, take time to discuss your strategy with your personal tax advisor.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

The Power of Five

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

When I was on vacation in Florida last month, I took a water aerobics class. One morning the instructor noted that we only had four months left in the year to accomplish our goals. While she was referring to our health goals, we now have three months to accomplish our other personal or business goals. How close to your goals are you? I know I still have some work to do on mine. One tool I use could be called “The Power of Five.” I’ve probably always used some form of this concept, and Jack Canfield coined it the “Rule of 5” in his book The Success Principles

Simply take five steps towards your goal each day. They don’t have to be big steps; they can be baby steps. For example, if one of your goals is to promote your new pattern, sending a sample with a letter to five different distributors counts as five steps. The steps don’t have to big ones, just ones that move you towards your goal. And, I think that often the small steps get you there faster; they make the goal seem less overwhelming. Of course, to do this you have to break down the goal into specific steps, often referred to as “chunking.”

I use the concept several ways. I have a running list of things that need to be done for a project, and I can decide the night before what I will accomplish the next day. Then I use my calendar to note the five things I did accomplish. That lets me see that I am progressing towards my goal. And some days I don’t get five. That doesn’t really matter as long as I’m taking some action towards my goal. It’s about persistence with one step followed by another step.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Getting Through Your To-Do List

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

With the travel I’ve had this month and that I see ahead – hello, Houston and its deadlines – I have to be quite organized to get it done. Here are some tips for accomplishing all that’s on your to-do list.

1. Start with a written plan. Clear, written goals are essential. What is the major goal and what are the sub-tasks? For example, my trip to our industry shows, Quilt Market and Quilt Festival in Houston, is a major goal. It has a number of sub-goals, including creating handouts for the two classes I will be teaching, developing a look for the booth, shipping supplies, developing an order form, etc. I have written out all the specific tasks for each sub-goal in my plan. It lets me focus easily and assures I don’t forget anything.

2. Prioritize the tasks and set deadlines. You need to determine when all the sub-tasks need to be done for the goal to be completed. In the case of Quilt Market/Festival, we know it takes place beginning Oct. 29, so I create a schedule backwards showing when my display materials and class materials need to be shipped. I also like to build in a little extra time. And, you might find out that not everything on your list will get done, so focus first on those activities that have the greatest impact on your business results.

3. Make a daily schedule. Take time either first thing in the morning or the night before to plan your day. Then take daily action toward your goals. How you work toward your goals will vary. You may like to work on one project to completion or divide your day into large blocks for different tasks. In my case, I plan to work on the handouts for my classes on one day and then ship the materials this week. That way they are done, I can check them off the list, and I won’t rush at the last minute.

4. Create and use systems if possible. I have a checklist for booth supplies for trade and retail shows. When it nears time for me to pack my supplies to ship, I get out my checklist, note any additions I may have added at the last show, and print a revised copy to use. I allow extra time in case I need to replace something on the list, e.g., masking tape or a new bulb.

5. Not everything on your list will get done. Remember the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of your activity results in 80 percent of your results. Concentrate on work in the 80 percent; that’s where your ROI (return on investment) will be.

6. And, finally, let go of perfectionism.This is a hard one for me. One of my mentors says to work to “good enough.” It might be that you set a timer for some of the tasks and what you accomplish in that time is “good enough.”

One of my favorite resources for getting things done is Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy. The book’s title references a quote from Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Brian goes on to offer his own two rules about “frogs,” your most important task. “The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. The second rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” So when I have lots on my plate, I look for the frog and start there.

How do you handle getting everything done on your list?

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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