Two Sides Of The Trade

by seanlow on August 25, 2016

Creative business is different. Sure, you all provide things at the end of the day. Photographs, furniture, flowers, lighting, food. However, it is never just about the thing.

Think about toothpaste. No one at Proctor and Gamble is moved when they see someone buy a tube of Crest, let alone brush their teeth with it. They enjoy selling the product and they are proud that it works well for the consumer. That is where it begins and ends for Proctor and Gamble. They are happy if they sell a lot of toothpaste, not so much if they do not.

Now think about your creative business, your art. If you did not care about the reaction to your work, you would not be around for very long. Every creative business owner I know strives for joy, for transformation. You want that look on your client’s face. The look that says you got them, go to them, moved them. For so many of you, it takes months, maybe years with a client to get that look. Layer upon layer of relationship, trust building, tension and resolution, over and over again.

If this is the essence of what you do – a journey to joy, why would you ever insist on looking like toothpaste? Make it all about the thing, the stuff, what the end product costs, instead focusing on what matters – how you are going to get from here to there, together?

Of course, the cost of production matters. No champagne on a beer budget. It just does not matter beyond expectation equivalence – you can create for them based on their budget or you cannot.

So what stops you from really going there with your clients? Really owning what it is you actually do (i.e., go on a journey, not sell toothpaste)? You can tell me it is fear. Of maybe not getting any business if you look different. Or looking too expensive since what is the price of the journey worth anyway?

Or maybe it is something even deeper – your willingness to erase yourself, to be in service instead of service to those who would pay for your work. Are you intimidated by your client’s money? Their profession? Their education?

Maybe it is a little (or a lot) of both fear and intimidation.

The answer has to be in the value YOU receive when you create. The knowledge you have earned in not just how sweet the end is, but the power of the journey. The reward you receive when your art, your creation does what is intended. Can you see your power and that of your art and your creative business in the equation?

If you can value your own joy, your own pleasure as part of transaction, perhaps you can see your own light. To know that you, your art and your creative business matter beyond the thing you provide. And if you go there, maybe, just maybe, you might refuse to have your creative business look like toothpaste. Art first. Stuff second.


Do You Believe Your Story?

by seanlow on August 18, 2016

Whether you charge a million dollars for your art or ten dollars, do you believe it is worth it? Why?

Just so you know, I can disprove every rational argument you make as to why you are worth it.

Look how much you get for the money. I can get it for less. We are super creative. So is the next gal. We have tons of experience. Again, so does the next gal. We are passionate. Who isn’t? We are customer service oriented. Are you kidding?

Nope. The only way you can believe you, your art and your creative business are worth it is to know you are.

Surprisingly, knowing you are worth it has nothing to do with confidence. Sure, you have to be confident in your abilities, your gift and your willingness to own the responsibility given to you by your clients, employees and colleagues alike. That is never enough though. You have to know why you do everything you do. Not just shooting the photograph, but everything leading up to it.   All things with a purpose. The purpose that works for you and makes you and your creative business the best in the world at what you do. Every. Little. Detail.

Clients, of course, will resist. They want to do things their way so they stay in their comfort zone. If it will take you out of your process, your vision for success, it cannot happen. Yes, you work for them but it is your work, your art, that they need. Your show, not theirs.

Think this is easy? Think again. Here is a paradigm that needs to die today and has no place in creative business – line item pricing.

Yes, clients need to know what they are getting for their money so you still have to provide the list of items. But the price of each item? Completely and utterly irrelevant to the conversation. You can either provide an amazing finished product for the budget or you cannot. It will not be more amazing if the sofa is $5,000 not $7,000.

If you are in the money saving business, you lose. There will always be someone cheaper. You are in the value business. Can you deliver on your promise? I will blow you away for this budget. Yes, I will make the money I need to sustain my art and my creative business, no more no less. In exchange, you will receive the transformation you seek. You will be moved. Period.

When you do not truly believe your story, you will argue with me over the value of line item pricing. Clients have to be able to compare, to know what they are buying. Ahem, they are buying your art and its ability to move them. Never the thing.

Standing in your own integrity is beyond hard. There will be panic. Deep desire to retreat to a world of yes even when every fiber of your being says you have to say no. Use the panic as a signal you are on the right track. To build the belief system you will need to only do your best. To be able to explain why every breath matters. Why the journey is yours to share with your clients, not the other way around.  To live the truth of your story as you see it for your art and your creative business.  That is faith and that is the obligation you signed on for when you decided to do what you do for a living.  Owning the obligation is what will bring you and your creative business to yourself.  Nothing better than that for everyone involved in your world.


Are You Willing To Be Left Behind?

August 9, 2016

Ten years ago, the IPhone (and all of the smartphone technology behind it) did not exist (at least not on a consumer level); Facebook was two (in 2005, News Corp. bought MySpace for $580million – it was supposed to be Facebook – not so much, today it ranks 1945 for web traffic); Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, […]

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How Human Are You Willing To Be?

July 22, 2016

In 1988, my brother, 10 months younger than I, died. He was 20, my very best friend, full of life and dreams, a free spirit to my intensely narrow, driven nature. He fell from a roof. Gone in an instant. The end of his life shaped mine forever more. I became more driven, more intense. […]

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Who Defines Success?

July 13, 2016

Your creative business did exactly everything you promised. You executed flawlessly, there were no hidden anythings. Yet your client was underwhelmed. The “Wow” they wanted did not appear in their eyes. Was the project successful? Who gets to decide? Does it matter? Easiest question first, of course it matters who gets to define what success […]

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Will You Ever Acknowledge Your Blind Spots?

July 7, 2016

Hubris is a bitch. If you have even a modicum of success in your creative business, you might live in the notion that your way is not just the best way, but the only way. You might perceive the world order as defined by your own version of success. You hear those with other worldviews […]

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What Will Motivate You To Change?

June 20, 2016

I had the very good fortune to attend Engage!16: The Breakers last week. I have been each Engage! (this was the 17th) and it is remarkable to me what can come if community is allowed to flourish. None better in the luxury wedding world to create and grow this community than Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn […]

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What Do You Do When Business Slows?

June 9, 2016

Rainbows and unicorns, perfect sunsets and idyllic days. Were this a description of our businesses. The reality is is that there are good days and bad, up and down months, even years. Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into your marketing, business development and social media, the projects just do not come. You […]

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How The World Has Changed

June 1, 2016

Google “Purple Couch” on your phone. You now have literally hundreds of options to choose from in less than ten seconds (including the time it takes you type “Purple Couch”). Is this the death of design?  What has your creative business done to evolve in this new world order? Do you dig in and stick […]

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Will You Dare To Be Early?

May 25, 2016

One of my favorite Henry Ford lines: “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Yes, you get tasked every day to create for clients. For your creative business to move them with your art. If you are lucky enough, you are busy doing great work for respectful, appreciative clients. […]

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