Now is the time when most creative businesses start getting really busy. Clients want to talk about redoing their homes, weddings are around the corner and that re-brand has moved to the top of the list. Spring has sprung.
Unfortunately, Spring is also the time that most creative business owners get sucked into the business’ day-to-day, working in the business instead of on it. Not to say that this is not necessary, just that once you are in it, it is hard to get back to being on it. So, to keep your eyes on the proverbial big picture, here are three things you can do each day to keep you mindful.
Marketing Budget We all think of marketing as the amount you might spend on advertising, PR, website, paper and digital collateral, conferences, networking, etc. At the beginning of the year, you might even have assigned a number to what you are planning on spending this year. All good. Now how about assigning part of that marketing budget to when things do not go as planned for your client(s). Most often, you will give too much (time, money or stuff). Think of it this way: if you are willing to spend your money on that photo shoot to show off your latest project/idea, then you can also be willing to spend your money on a client. And, make no mistake, spending extra time on a client is your choice. Not accounting for the choice is a double-down, virtually guaranteeing you will do it again, losing all along the way. Instead, commit to assigning a marketing number to the extra effort. Then, be disciplined. When you reach your budget, no more. Not a promo, extra anything. No conferences, networking, PR expense. Done. If you can do that, then my guess is you will question, in the moment, whether expending the extra resources for your client is worth it.
The Dress Rehearsal Getting lost in the work you do is essential. Your art is your art and you need to make a statement with each and every project you undertake. No such thing as a throwaway. However, your client is not the only person in the room, so is your next client or the person that can extend your art to another medium. How are you talking to them? You can be quite literal as Bryan Rafanelli is and ask to be introduced to two potential clients (love it) at each event, or you can simply make sure that you and your art are speaking to those people you most care about. Knowing that your client’s project is a dress rehearsal for your next project, whatever that may be, is a great way to keep perspective on the why of your creative business.
The Experiment You have a formula that works, otherwise you would not have any business. However, nothing is perfect. Ever. Paraphrasing Liene Steven’s post on change this week, you have to always be tinkering if you hope to make substantive change. Of course, I believe in ripping off the band-aid and making huge changes. I just do not believe in making that big change while you are in the middle of a project. Little shifts are what is on order. No, you will not communicate via text 500 times a day. We will have a ten minute Skype call every other day. I will not deliver piece-meal. Yes, you can and should be willing to introduce a whole new process to future clients. So why not use existing clients as the petri dish for how you are going to deliver on that process. Who cares if you are not getting paid specifically to present? Do it any way. Test the change you hope to make. Do it not to validate it, but to hone it. Call it your new process in beta. Hopefully, the tinkering will inspire and cement the new process your future clients will enjoy.
Your success as an artist and creative business owner depends on perspective. To have perspective you need to be mindful always of where you are and where you hope to go. Practicing the Marketing Budget, The Dress Rehearsal and The Experiment will, of course, not guarantee perspective, but my prayer is that it will keep you from a few potholes as you speed down the road during your high season.