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Breaking Through Your Creative Blocks

break-through-blocks

I had a conversation last week with a client who was stressing about spending so much time on and in her business that she was feeling stuck. Claire told me how she used to love to create just for herself, without a business outcome involved. Only now, she just did not even have time to do that. And, she was suffering. She felt lost and was beginning to be “stuck” with the creating that was important to her business growth. I suggested that she schedule “Claire time” into her calendar for creativity and stick with it, no matter what. By allowing time for herself, I believe Claire would show up better in her business.

As we were talking about how to schedule that time, I remembered the  lecture Elizabeth Gilbert gave at the 2009 TED Conference entitled “A Different Way to Think About Creative Genius.” It was about nurturing creativity. I went back and listened to it again. What struck me then, as well as now, was when Elizabeth was having a hard time writing, she took time and just spoke out to the corner, to let genius come to her. If it didn’t, well, she showed up for her part of the job. Isn’t that what you do many times when you create? You just show up. Sometimes it is a wonderful effort; other times it’s just an effort. But you showed up.



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I’m stretching. Are you?

Have you ever been on a stretcher? I was a few years back when I was rehabbing a neck problem.

What happened? Well, I actually grew a bit, something pretty cool at my age.

What does my growth have to do with your business? Well, it’s about being on the stretcher. When was the last time you put your goals on the stretcher?

What is a stretch goal?

During a conversation with one of my clients, we talked about stretch goals, when to use them, when to adapt them.

What exactly is a stretch goal?

I believe it is one that takes you out of your comfort zone. I think it still needs to have a component of achievability. When you do achieve it, it will take you to a whole new level. You could also think of it as a breakthrough goal.



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Only 120 days left until 2020

A few years back, I remember being in a water aerobics class over Labor Day weekend. The instructor noted how much time we had left that year to get and stay in shape. If you look at this year’s calendar, we don’t turn the page to 2020 for 120 days. Plenty of time to make a difference in your business this year and be ready to accomplish even more in 2020. (It’s hard to believe I’m already saying 2020!)

In addition to Labor Day weekend, for many kids, it’s the official end to summer and back to school. And, you’ll find plenty of 2020 calendars in your local office supply store or online. No time like the present to start to think about 2020 as well as how you can make the next 120 days the best.

Rocks, pebbles, sand

I like the rock, pebbles, sand approach. I’m sure you’ve heard of this before. It was popularized by Stephen Covey of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The big rocks stand for what is most important in your life. This could be the book you want to write. It could be your family. It could be your faith. It could be your health. It’s what makes your life work and has meaning for you. Your goal is to know what is most important to you and be sure it gets the attention it deserves.



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Plug The Profit Leaks in Your Business

profit-leaks

Do you remember the lyrics of a childhood song, “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza”? I don’t know if kids still sing this today or not.

In 1053, a British comedic duo, Flanders and Swann, wrote a parody named “There’s a Hole in My Budget.”

For some of us that hole is all too real.

I am working on a new webinar titled “5 Smart Ways to Make Money in Your Creative Arts Business Now.” While you definitely want to bring more money into your business, you may have holes in your business where money is just leaking out.

Bringing in more cash does not negate what you are losing.

To start plugging those leaks, you will need to actually look at your numbers.

Yes, I know that it is not as much fun as creating, but you can’t find the leaks otherwise.



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When to Say No

Are you a “yes” person?

I know I used to say yes to lots of opportunities. 

Some of them moved the needle in my business; some did not.

Some I said yes to because the opportunities were cool. I didn’t want to miss out on cool. 

If I look back I probably should have said no more often or at least sooner than I did.

If you really think about it, every time you do say yes to something you are saying no to something else.

Good things come to you when you learn to say no. Here are some ways to know when to say no.



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Reinventing Everyday

reinventingeveryday-3Rs

Are you practicing the 3 R’s?  

What are the 3 R’s, you ask?

Recycle, reuse, repurpose – all part of reinventing your business everyday.

How much of what you create just needs to be spiffed up or re-slanted to make it new?

We see it all the time in other markets.

Disney is a prime example. They put movies in a seven-year “vault” and then re-released some of them each year. They recreate the excitement, find additional audiences, and make more sales.

How can you do this as a creative arts professional? Here are some ideas:



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Know your customer to ignite your business

Over the weekend I met my friend Jamie at a local coffee shop. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and had a great time catching up. After about half an hour, we were joined by Caitlin, one of Jamie’s friends. Some years back Jamie had been sitting next to me on a train ride while I had a coaching call with a client. She knew Caitlin was struggling with her business and asked if I would spend time talking with her about those struggles.

Caitlin had started her business a year ago. She felt a calling to help young women in our town improve their circumstances. She knew that I worked with creatives to help them build their businesses and wondered if what I did could translate to her.

The thing is that how I help artists — whether they are fiber artists, jewelers, or writers — is exactly how I helped Caitlin. This is an abbreviated version of what I shared during our conversation.

Know what you have to offer that is unique.

Everyone has a unique message to share based on their life circumstances and experiences.

I once heard someone say “make your mess your message.” It’s so true.



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Eliminating energy zappers

The topic of tolerations seems to come up every once in a while with my clients. It also comes up in my own life.

Tolerations could more accurately be called “energy zappers.”

They are those situations, problems, or things that are really solvable, but that you let stay unattended.

Those tolerations bug you on occasion, and you think they are just a nuisance.

What happens when you ignore them?



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You Can’t Do It Alone

can't-do-it-alone

You have a big vision for your business, right? And, as much as you might like to, you can not get to the big vision without support.

In the beginning you did everything, or most everything yourself.

Depending on your business, in addition to creating your art, you packed and schlepped every thing to the post office. You wrote all the copy or directions and tested your own patterns. You packed your patterns. You did your own bookkeeping. You cleaned your studio. You tried to set aside some time for marketing. You learned how to maintain your website, if not develop it.

Whew! I got tired thinking of all the activity.



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7 Ways to Get More Work Done This Summer

We are about halfway through the summer. Are you doing anything special during your summer vacation?

I’m spending lots of extra time at our home on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. I also reading much more than usual and trying to find more time to art.

Even with those fun elements, it’s important not to adopt a vacation mindset when it comes to your business. A lot of people do that. You can take advantage of the slow time and make a difference in your business.

One of the things I’ve tried to work on for the last few years is working smarter and using my time more efficiently. The key to that is knowing how I am working currently. Here are some tips I have been using to put the sizzle back in my creative arts business.

Track how you spend your time.

At the end of each day and at the end of each week compare the percentage of your time used toward fulfilling your mission and achieving your goals with time spent elsewhere. It is easy to get sidetracked and not pay attention to the task at hand. It is also easy to do the effortless work and not really tackle what you should be getting done.

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