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Why you should work on ideas consecutively, not concurrently

 

 

Why you should work on ideas consecutively,

As entrepreneurs, we have so many ideas swirling around our heads. New ideas for products, marketing ideas, new business launches and the list goes on and on.

How do we make sure we focus enough on an idea to see if it’s viable, make a plan to carry it out and then ensure it’s a success.

After many hard-won years of trying new things in my business, I’ve unlocked one of the secrets.

Do things one at a time, not all at once.

Consecutive not Concurrent.

Seems like a really simple and almost ‘duh’ kinda realisation but I’m telling you now: it’s often the simplest things that we fail to see or forget when we’re knee deep in our business planning.

I have started so many things in the past that haven’t really had the legs because I tried to do them alongside another huge project or business and then ultimately ran out of time.

So how do you decide what you should focus your time on?

Follow these three easy steps to make sure you actually get things done and don’t use up all your energy trying to do things all at once

1. Write them down

You’re afraid if you don’t start on your new idea right away, you’ll forget it.

Simple solution: write it down.

Use a project planning site like Trello or a just piece of paper and a pen: it doesn’t matter as long as you have it to refer back to.

2. Plan them out

Make yourself a list of questions which will help you to decide whether this idea is going to be good for your business.

e.g. Does this fit with my business plan? Am I at the right stage of my business to add this dimension? What is the real reason I want to enact this plan/idea? Is this financially viable (write a small budget)? etc.

Then, once you’ve written a few of these plans and you have a few ideas which you want to get started on, decide which one to do first.

Consecutive not Concurrent.

3. Put them in your calendar

Now that you know what you want to do first, plot out how long it’s going to take you.

e.g. If it’s new product, how long will it take you to design, develop, make, photograph, market and list in your store

Then do this for the other ideas you have and plot them into your calendar along with milestones you want to reach along the way.

Then you’re all set to get started on your new idea without feeling like you’re neglecting all your other great ideas.

Having a planning day away from your creative space is such a great idea if you’re going to undertake this activity. I can’t recommend enough finding a Library, cafe or other free space to sit and think about these things without the distraction of home and work.

Have you got a story to tell where you took on too many things? Tell me below!

Success Stories – Boo and Boo Factory

 

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Christina is a powerhouse of imagination and creation. Her Etsy store literally stopped my in my tracks with my mouth open as I gawked at her beautiful (and bright!) jewellery and purses. I like bold, statement stuff and so I was pretty excited when she graciously agreed to be interviewed. I am so excited to share Christina’s rise to self-made business woman as she transitioned from architectural graduate to style icon.

 

Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

 I began Boo and Boo Factory as a way to make some extra money to pay for architecture school. 

Supplies, models and computers can get expensive so any extra income was welcome.  I continued to craft on the side all throughout architecture graduate school.

I began to notice that my shop was growing very quickly and due to my heavy school schedule, had to start declining work and projects for Boo in order to keep me focused on my studies.

After I had completed my thesis in 2012, I decided to pursue Boo and Boo Factory full time instead of going back to work in architecture

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What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The largest challenge for me is how to find balance between designing, making and many of the other tasks of running a business.

Since I am a one woman shop I tackle many elements daily that a larger business would outsource.

I source my own supplies, work with retail shops as well as manage wholesale, I do my own taxes, accounting and book keeping, inventory, design and upkeep my website, answer emails, network, market and all of this on top of designing and hand making each piece.

It can be really tricky trying to do it all and it never seems like there’s enough time in the day

What has been the biggest ‘fist-pump’/successful moment for you so far?

My biggest successful moment was when Etsy had their first pop up shop in Soho during the holidays and they asked me to be a featured maker there.

They flew me out to New York and set up a work area for me to meet customers and sell my goods.

It really was one of the most amazing experiences.

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Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

I don’t have any doubts as to my future creative direction. 

Every day I learn something new in regards to business and I’m constantly trying to learn new techniques to help me push my product lines and experiment with new designs.

As I had mentioned previously, time is always an issue. 

I always feel like I don’t have enough time for one thing or another, I just try to do my best.

Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

Every now and then I go through creative slumps.

I think that’s something that all creatives can relate to.  If I feel stuck, I go outside for a walk, go to a different part of the city I don’t usually go to or sit at Lake Michigan.

I find that ruts hit me when I’m swamped with work and tired. So taking a break and seeing something new usually does the trick to spark creativity.

You have to learn to take time for yourself and your well-being because if you don’t your business can suffer. 

 

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How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

Every day is a little bit different and depends on how many open orders I have. If I have a rush of orders I spend the whole day making and then try to package and ship at night.

If I don’t have too many orders, I use that time to make new products, photograph and list them in my shop.  Usual business tasks are also spread out depending on my work load.

Working for your self is way more work than working for someone else.

I work 7 days a week sometime from 8 to 14 hours a day. 

I love it and don’t mind putting in those hours.

I am so grateful that I am able to do something I truly love for a living. It is really one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced.

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What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

Instagram has been the best marketing tool for my shop!

I started it only a year ago and love it! I meet other creatives and network with people all around the world on a daily basis.  I also receive most of my wholesale orders as well as fun custom orders through Instagram.

The other thing I like about Instagram is the instant feedback you receive on products.

Whenever I’m working on a new design I’ll put up progress shots all the way up to the finished design and receive feedback on all stages of the work.

It’s so helpful and is a really fun way to try something new that you maybe wouldn’t have done before.

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What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

I think that a lot of creatives try to learn everything there is about business before they open their shops.

The truth is you won’t be able to learn everything and it doesn’t have to be perfect when you open.

You’ll learn as you go through experience and you never stop learning.

Of course it is very important to research before you begin but it’s also very important to take the leap and get your products out there for the world to see.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself in 5 years in a dedicated studio space outside of my home with employees!

It would be so amazing to hire help for the business side so I can spend more time designing and making pieces.

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6 Tips to Focus Your Business and Life

 

 

6 Tips on How to Focus your Business and

I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty lately that I’ve let things get away from me with my business and my life.

About 3 months ago I had everything stable and in a great routine.

I was working two days a week on my passion projects, the local Community Centre, as well as being the Assistant Editor here at Create & Thrive.

I was getting my recently re-branded soap business This Soap Smells Good up and running from home and my mini-store, Handmade High Street (HHSt) at Southside Antiques where I work one day a week while I look after their website and social media.

I was also running 4 creative workshops a month which go hand in hand both the Community Centre and HHSt.

Plus, on the back-burner I had a few other little projects which I’d been dabbling in including a market which I organise twice a year for traders in my local neighbourhood

My plate is full.

But it doesn’t feel full most of the time because I’m used to it and I have a pretty strict routine which helps me to keep all the balls in the air.

We live in sunny Brisbane and my husband worked at the local Children’s Hospital which was only 4 minutes drive away and we had one car, our little house and two rascally pups.

I also almost started a Graduate Certificate at University this Semester but I have now deferred until 2016.

Recently, husband has started a 6 month stint at a hospital around 1.5 hours away from our home and we have moved part-time to my family’s house which is close by. (It does mean that I will have to do that 1.5 hour journey once a week for my Centre job but it’s not so bad). 

He has also started studying again so he’s going to need my help to get his work done and that piece of paper signed off at the end of it all.

Now I can feel those juggling balls slipping out of my fingers: I feel like I am trying to grip each too tightly, not giving me enough time to catch the next one in line.

I looked at the list of things which I am responsible for and I had a sudden realisation:

I’ve lost my focus.

I’m a ‘yes’ person. I love to do more, try everything, never say no!

But in reality, consecutive rather than concurrent will give each project, task or job more clarity and will ultimately make you feel more accomplished and on the path upwards rather than in the wiggly track I’ve found myself on.

So here’s my tips for getting your focus back if you’ve got yourself into the bother that I have and need to streamline your business and life… and even cull some of the extraneous tasks or jobs to help you have a better work/life balance.

Focusing is about saying 'No'.Steve Jobs

1. Write down every project, responsibility and job you currently have

Make sure you write down everything.

Don’t leave something off to make your list look easier or more achievable, that’s cheating yourself and you’ll lose clarity.

Here’s mine as an example: believe it or not, there used to be more on it.

  • Community Centre
  • Fundraising and Grants Portfolio
  • Creative Workshops
  • Town Hall Meetings and Annerley Support Meetings
  • Annerley Junction Traders Association Markets
  • www.annerley.org
  • Create & Thrive
  • The Thriver Circle
  • Business Coaching
  • This Soap Smells Good
  • Handmade High Street Mini Store
  • Southside Antiques (media and marketing)
  • Zibbet
  • Idle Zine
  • Grad Cert Community Development
  • Weekend Notes
  • Look after Husband when he’s working long shifts and studying
  • Look after two dogs
  • Keep the house tidy and household happy
  • Look after me

You can’t focus without specifics so it would be a good idea at this point to drill down on each of these jobs and projects with individual tasks and the time it takes you on average each week to achieve them.

Breaking things down into smaller parts makes it clearer how much time and energy they are taking up in your day.

I’m not going to bore you with mine – we might be here all day!

2. Decide what can go and what must stay

What’s the bigger picture here? What do you want to get out of your business and how will that balance with your life?

After writing that list I realised something really important.

Look where I put the words ‘Look after me.

There I am, right down there at the very bottom.

We’ve talked about self-care many times on this blog and I’ve realised that I’ve slipped out of the routine of looking after myself.

Also, where can I fit in my ‘useful distractions’? Things like hanging out with my friends and going out to dinner with my husband are important for overall happiness in my life.

Now, it’s time to decide what’s going to stay on that list and what’s got to go.

You’ll know what needs to stay and I bet you can look at my list and make the same decisions I would. Some things are so important that you can’t take them off the list – I can’t just stop looking after my dogs, my husband and myself can I!?

But there are going to be some things on that list that you’ll realise straight away are time-eaters or might be able to be postponed to a time when they are more achievable.

What can you put on the back-burner for while? Or maybe get rid of completely?

3. Make a Pros and Cons list for the things you’re not sure about

I have been thinking about some of my roles for a while and I just can’t seem to make a decision about whether or not I should keep going with some of them.

The important part here is getting out all your emotional, practical and logistical thoughts about each project or job and thinking critically about whether you want to do it, should do it or can do it… or not!

If you’re really into analysing your data, there’s a great post here about how to write an amazing Pros and Cons list.

After you have made your list for each task, really think about it with your heart – can you bear to let it go? Are you really invested in it?

If you feel like you can let go, it’s time to make a move on culling those things in your life which just aren’t working for you – at the moment.

You might find some of them can be left on the back-burner whereas others are now-or-never kinds of projects and roles. Make sure you take this into consideration.

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4. Start a calendar and plug in times for each project, job or task

Phew!

Take a break and make sure that all sits well with you. It’s a really tough thing to do but finding Focus takes… well… focus!

Now is the time I start looking at my time and a calendar is a really great place to start.

I looked at all the tasks I wrote and ‘drilled down’ on in the first place and see how much time each one of them takes.

I use Google Calendar but you could just as easily use a paper calendar or make one yourself.

First thing I have done is lock out Saturday and Sunday. I don’t want to work on weekends and that’s part of the reason I own my own business and have such a flexible work situation.

I want time off with family and friends on the weekend when everyone else is free.

Then I have slotted in things which have set hours so that I know those times are booked out and I can’t schedule other tasks there.

I also have multiple Google calendars so I can turn them on and off if I’m taking a holiday or having a break from one of my projects or jobs for a week or two. Plus I can see them all on my phone when I’m not near the computer.

When and how do you do your best work? Make sure you’re slotting things into your calendar at times and in timeframes that will allow you to give the best output.

You might realise after slotting everything into your calendar that it’s still a bit cramped.

5. Streamline each Project or Job

Go back to the beginning of this list and see all the jobs and projects you now have on your plate after your cull.

Look at the tasks that go along with each one: where you ‘drilled down’ and elaborated on each job.

  • Are there things which you are doing which might be able to be dropped or at least put aside for now?
  • What can you outsource or get help on?
  • Can you take a little extra time now to work on streamlining a process which will save you time in the longrun?
  • Could you ask someone in the same industry to help you find a quicker way to get a task done?

You could also do the exact same process we went through with your Pros and Cons earlier but on a deeper level of your list.

Once you have streamlined these tasks, you can rethink how much time you spend on each job or project and help you to prioritise time into your calendar.

6. Review, review, review

Now you have taken a step towards a more focused life and business, you can sit back and ride the wave of success.

Not really.

You’ll need to keep an eye on your jobs and projects within your business and other aspects of your life or things can have a habit of creeping up on you.

This is exactly what has happened to me!

If you feel like things are becoming too much, you can’t keep all the balls in the air or you’re simply not getting enough ‘me time’, take a deep breath, and start from the beginning of this post again.

I feel much more secure now I have really thought through all my roles in life and made decisions which will make me happier and healthier in body and mind.

 

Success Stories – Core.

I’ve known Damara for some time and I always admire her incredible artworks and range of jewellery which is unique and thoughtful. Core. is a blend of artisan work and crafting through design and construction of beautiful wearables and wall hangings. Read on to see how a little craft market stall turned into a burgeoning creative business.

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Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far?

Art has been a major part of my life since I was little.

After floundering at university briefly studying anthropology, I decided to follow my true passion, and became a Graphic Designer.

I worked in graphics and (at the time) the newly developing world of digital photography until my first child came along.

After focusing on family for a number of years I found my passion to create was itching just below the surface, so I started my own business. After learning on the run and a few changes here and there I settled into Core.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome so far in your business?

The biggest was definitely a small legal battle last year.

Someone was trying to copyright my business name even though my business was established and they already knew of me.

I had been naïve when starting the business not copyrighting the name, only registering it. I had no idea of how my venture would go and had little money to put towards such measures.

It ended up costing me A LOT more in the end, but thankfully with the help of a great IP lawyer my name is safely trademarked now.

It was a taxing time both emotionally as well as financially.

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Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

Yes, all the time (for both questions).

I think a lot of artists can relate to the fear involved in running your creativity as a ‘business’.

As an artist I just want to create what I love, but as a business it needs to be viable as a ‘product’.

I am constantly wondering if what I’m doing is what I should be doing.

Will it work?

Will people like it?

Even more so, will people part with their hard earned money to buy it?

And there are always a thousand more ideas in my head I do not either have time to get to or get pushed aside to make way for other things. I also have a problem with the word ‘success’.

I honestly don’t feel like a ‘success’.

It’s all a process rather than a definitive end and I am still within it, trying to keep moving forward and be happy.

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Are there times when your creativity and inspiration seem to disappear? How do you handle that?

I just have to work through it.

I find that by going through other processes, getting things done, that it comes back.

Even if I have to spend days just gluing or sanding or doing paper work, eventually I will be struck by a moment of inspiration.

How do you balance your work with the rest of your life ~ what does a typical day in your life look like?

My family comes first. That will always be the case. And that sometimes makes things very hard, but I am fortunate that this business is a ‘choice’ for me.

Yes it is a necessity for me as an artist to be creative, but I get to do that with my 3 children as well. As my youngest is getting older it is becoming easier to fit more focus time into Core.

Each day begins with getting everybody up and off to school, then my business time begins after that.

After school hours is quite tricky, and Core. just has to fit in around soccer and hockey and cello and holidays etc.

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What has been the best marketing move you’ve ever made for your own business?

In one word – Instagram.

By far the best and easiest marketing tool, and I love it.

Everything goes on IG, all my processes and finished products, plus it is a visual tool, which as a creative person really appeals to me aesthetically.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give fellow makers about running a successful creative business?

Don’t worry about anyone else. Just do what makes you happy.

You can’t compare apples and oranges, just like you can’t compare your life to what you perceive is how someone else’s life is. Stick with your reality, and produce what you love.

That authenticity will shine through your work and people will believe in it… and in you.

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Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Still on this creative journey.

I hope that my little business moves forwards and upwards.

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Website: etsy.com/au/shop/corejewellery

Facebook: facebook.com/core.jewellery

Instagram: instagram.com/littlecore

[#14] 5 Ways you’re Sabotaging your Success

The Create & Thrive Podcast - Episode 14

When you decide to turn your creative hobby into a business, there are going to be external obstacles that get in your way – LOTS of obstacles. That’s just business – just life, really – and they are an inevitable part of trying to make something happen.

But you can also get in your own way.

We can be really good at stopping ourselves from succeeding, often without even realising it.

I’ve taught hundreds – if not thousands – of people how to turn their hobby into their dream business. I’ve found that while we are all passionate about creating something and have a drive to create new things, we also need to have a drive to make a living out of it.

If you don’t have the desire to make a financial success out of your creative biz, then you won’t.

Lots of creatives have the ‘starving artist’ mentality where they don’t feel comfortable making money from their art.

I’ve here to tell you: you are not disrespecting your creativity if you’re making money from it. If you resonate with this common issue, you’re not alone – and it’s just one of the unhealthy beliefs we absorb from our society that may be causing you to hold yourself back.

In this episode, I discuss 5 ways you might be unconsciously sabotaging yourself and holding yourself back from making your business a success – and how to overcome these self-created obstacles.

So, if you are feeling negative about your business, you may recognise a lot of things in this episode.

See if you can take steps to change them and help your business thrive.

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Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • We can’t change and overcome these roadblocks unless we recognise that they are there
  • If you start a handmade business and you’re expecting to make a huge profit in the first few years, you need to forget that
  • It might happen – but it’s unlikely
  • “Chances are, it’s going to take a couple of years to gain some traction and make it a full time business.”
  • People over-anticipate what they can achieve in a certain period of time
  • “You see those people who seem to be an overnight success – they’re not!”
  • Some people will be coming at this with other skills and industry knowledge which will allow them to find success quicker. But they have spent many years honing the skills which allowed them to succeed.
  • If you’re coming at this business without that background knowledge, things take a long time to learn
  • Don’t put yourself down if it takes time
  • “I hope it’s a fun part of the journey for you, experimenting and trying new things.”
  • If you’re not in it for the long haul, really think about whether it’s something you want to be doing in the long run
  • You are competing against the entire internet and everyone who is in your niche
  • You need to stand out, and it if you haven’t got the elements correct, you will find it hard to gain traction and make sales
  • Only you can choose when you call yourself a success
  • People will focus on something that’s not working and will complain about it – there’s no point
  • It’s OK to blow off steam and get it off our chest
  • You’re sabotaging your success by being a ‘glass half empty’ rather than a ‘glass half full’ person
  • Focus your energy of your on the positive
  • “Nobody is responsible for the success or failure of your business but you.”
  • You can always find ways around roadblocks
  • It doesn’t matter how small your success, it deserves celebrating
  • “This is a case of starting too many new things at once and not being able to give any one thing the attention they truly deserve.”
  • You might always be wanting to try new things
  • This is really great but can also backfire as you’re not able to focus on any one thing
  • “Sales follow your focus.”
  • You have to give your business the time, attention and focus it deserves so it has a chance of success
  • Do all the things you want to do, but do them sequentially instead of concurrently
  • In order to make space in your life, you may want to give other things away
  • “You’ve bought the courses, you’ve bought the e-books, you have all the theoretical knowledge that you need but you’re yet to do anything about it.”
  • This is often what happens when you’re a perfectionist
  • Consistent investment in your own education is a valuable thing
  • There’s comes a point when you just have to take the leap
  • You will make mistakes, but do that while nobody is watching
  • If you never put yourself into the arena, then you will never make progress
  • Put yourself out there and until you do that, you won’t know what other people think
  • You don’t learn to walk the first time you try but you get there eventually
  • You’re afraid that everything isn’t perfect
  • Nothing is ever perfect
  • “Get it to the stage of pretty darn awesome, or just pretty good, and get it out into the world.”
  • Until you do, you aren’t going to get feedback to make things grow and evolve

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” {Theodore Roosevelt}

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