Tis the season for most creative businesses. Late Spring/Early Summer just seems to be the time when most creative businesses find themselves slammed with projects. Maybe it is the turn of the weather or just the desire for clients to make things happen (or get married). Trying to manage it all is more than a full-time job and thinking about anything beyond cranking out the work is a non-starter. And herein lies the issue.
All those plans you were busy making when you and your creative business were slower fall away when you are back in the soup. Most experts would say that you always have to be thinking about your strategic direction no matter the circumstance. If you do not know why you are doing something, how can you really have a strategy?
I am not there. I think you should have your head down at this moment, doing your best work, always dazzling and amazing your clients. Forget about the big picture, focus on what is right in front of you. Why? The time for rehearsal, training and tinkering is over. As with any performer, at a certain point instinct has to take over and you just have to dance, not with your head, but with your heart. If you have not embodied your strategy yet, thinking about it while you are barely treading water is not going to help. In fact, it will distract you from the work you need to be doing. So go get lost in your art.
However. Make sure you give yourself an order to come back to strategy. Do not start analyzing your projects with what went wrong. Instead, focus on what went right. Think about what your clients really valued about you, your art and your creative business. And, no, you cannot say it was because you provided great service, were passionate or, heaven forbid, cheap. If you have employees, please do not evaluate them based on the tasks you assigned them, but rather the enthusiasm and talent for the role you placed them in. To make sure you come back from busy neverland, set a date on the calendar on which you (yes, you – not your staff) will deliver a written analysis of how your execution matched the strategy you set out for yourself. For example, if you decided you wanted to be in the high-end market, even if you are doing work for lower-end clients, what is it about THAT work that would interest higher-end clients. No designer (event, graphic or interior), photographer, florist, etc. started out at the top. They all honed what they did to make their work attractive to those at the higher end of the market.
The risk of getting lost in busy neverland is that you will start to confuse it with actual strategy. If your primary focus is to work on improving what went wrong, you will always be looking in the rear-view mirror. Then your goal will be to get to the next busy season hoping that you will be able to do better once you are there. In the meantime, you will miss out on the opportunity to figure out how to extend your relationship with your clients (existing and new). Just because you are a florist, does not mean your clients will not buy your sunglasses.
Artists that do not believe their art transcends its medium are those who refuse to leave busy neverland. My hope is that these artists will come to realize that busy neverland is a nice place to visit, not so much to live.