business

Why Entrepreneurs Need Vacations

I've recently been listening to the Being Boss podcast by Emily Thompson and Kathleen Shannon while at the gym and while painting, and I'm in love. Not only are these girls more real, and come across less 'pinterest perfect', but they are also great online mentors for creative entrepreneurs. One of the episodes that resonated with me the most this week was about growing your business while on vacation. Given that Josh and I spent the day packing for a little surf trip this weekend, I started to think about all the work that I've got to do while we are gone. Yep, I'm bringing work on our little vacation. But that doesn't mean that I'm actually going to do any of it.

Be Prepared, But Don't Be Pressured

I have made a list of some of the work that I'd love to get done, and packed the supplies that I might need to get it all done. I've made sure I have all my notes about custom orders I have on the go, and inspiration for new ideas I want to paint, and some embellishments and paints for making some Illustrated Faith pages. I have no idea what kind of time I'll have on my hands this weekend. Last year's contest rained a lot, and I ended up spending time in the hotel room instead of on the beach. This year, I wanted to be prepared for any downtime to occur, in case I'm feeling creative and can make art (and not just watch the Food Network all day). I don't want to feel like I should have brought stuff, and didn't. However, in planning to be prepared, I'm also making sure that I'm not being pressured. I'm not putting any deadlines on myself to get specific things done while I'm away. I want to make sure that I take the time to rest...rest my mind, rest my body, and rest my creativity. Sometimes the best work can come after a dry spell. I'm hoping that the forced break will allow my brain to relax a little, catch up on the zillions of thoughts that keep racing through it day in and day out.

Be Inspired with New Surroundings

I'm hoping that my time at the beach this weekend will inspire me in new ways. I've been pretty cooped up in my little studio for the last couple months. It's been a long, very cold winter. It's been tough finding inspiration, without wanting to go any many adventures, breathe in the fresh outdoor air, and see new things. Even though spring has finally sprung, it's still slowly creeping out of the dirt, and the new season hasn't started enough to fully arouse inspiration in my just yet. I'm hoping that having new surroundings, down on the seashore, will pull a little more inspiration and creativity out of me.

Be Relaxed and Less Stressed

The perfect goal of any vacation is to be relaxed and less stressed. Even though I'm bringing (potential) work with me on this trip, I still am holding to that goal. Primarily, I'm using the time to recharge, cheer on my husband as he does what he loves, and to be renewed. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy God's beautiful creation. Bringing my Illustrated Faith supplies allows me to create pages in my Bible as I take in His creationHaving my supplies available to be while away allows me to still create work as I am inspired. 


Do you have any special ways that you like to recharge and be inspired? I'd love to hear your ideas. Leave your thoughts in the comments to share!

Business Chats: Trust ...or... When I let myself be ripped off...twice

Trust - (noun) Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

Sometimes I feel like I've let myself be too trusting in my business. I know it's really important to be trustworthy, and not to lead any of my clients astray, but I feel like I've possibly been to trusting of the people that I've come into contact with, specifically those who have asked for pieces of my work to share on their blog or to post somewhere. 

In my first year of business, I had a blogger contact me for a custom piece, which she wanted to add to her new renovated and redecorated bedroom. The piece would be part of the reveal on her blog, and she had said that I would be credited. She also said that the post would be up 'in the next two or three weeks. I got a little excited that some blogger had found little ol' me and wanted to feature my work on her blog. Her blog looked like it was on the more professional end, that she possibly had quite a decent following, and that I could probably benefit by doing this piece for her. So I went for it. The piece was done, a one of a kind original, especially for her (meaning no prints of this piece are in my current SHOP), and off in the mail it went. 

And then I waited. I knew I would need to wait for the mail people to do their job and carry my little piece of art across provinces and states. I waited to hear if she got the piece. Nothing. So then I waited again, meanwhile checking her blog every once in a while to see if the post had been blogged. I emailed her to confirm she got the piece. I didn't hear back. I waited again and sent another email, now starting to worry that I've possibly been ripped off. Finally a couple weeks later she replied that she had recieved the piece and she loved it and the post should be up next week. She'd been busy, and was sorry about the delay. Ok, I can accept that. Schedules change, things happen, stuff doesn't always go as planned. That was fine, and I still felt like I was going to eventually get some return on the work I did. 

Three more months pass. Months! I was pretty devastated. I definitely felt like I'd been worked over, and that this lady had been able to get some free art off me for her house. Finally the post showed up on her blog. Lots of detail shots of her room. One photo of the gallery wall contained a shot of my work, and still, that was competing with multiple other frames. The credit I was given was a very small sized down at the bottom of the post. I have received no hits to my site from hers. I felt that I had been duped. It wasn't made clear that the print came from me. It wasn't made clear that this print should have been credited with a ℅ since she hadn't paid for the work. I realized that next time I need to have more of a relationship with someone before they can get free work off of me, because right now it feels like miss blogger is sitting happy knowing she didn't have to pay. Trust was gone. And that just bums me out as a small business owner. 

My second story is rougher, at least to me, as it hit me harder. I had built up a relationship with this next person, or so I had thought. I knew them in real life, as well as through the Internet. I gave some free work to them, and in return was promised that I would be credited on social media. I woke up the day that they launched ther post containing my work, looking forward to seeing if there was going to be any positive reaction to my work too. One little credit on facebook. No credits on Twitter. No credits on Instagram. No credits on Instagram in their second IG post. I was almost in tears. As a visual artist and business owner, I felt like I was definitely missing out with my credits not being included in the more visually based social media of Instagram. Sure facebook can be ok, but lately for any business page, Facebook is awful and only reaches about 5% of your followers. To me, I felt like that wasn't enough of a return on my investment. This job was a tougher one, being a very last minute time crunch, I had to set everything else aside, all on top of being free. (Sorry, but I've still got a little bit of a bitter aftertaste in my mouth from this because it was so recent.) I thought that the trust was there, but I guess it wasn't. There had been shadiness in the past dealing with this person, but I thought that we had overcome that. I guess it's hard to stop the shadiness when there aren't any negative consequences to it. Needless to say, I have now cut ties with working on anything with this person, and have learned my lesson the hard way from both of these examples. I can't just expect everyone to be trustworthy, just because I try to be trustworthy. Some people just aren't. 

To me, being trustworthy is everything about business. I can't expect anyone to buy something from or work with me if they can't trust me. So that is my aim. To be trustworthy, have integrity, and be thoughtful. Some business attitudes that I value in my company. 

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Have you come across any business situations dealing with trustworthiness, or lack there of? Share in the comments! Interested in being part of the discussion for the next Business Chats? Leave a comment with your next business value idea, or send me an email with your story, you might be up for a guest post!

cafe photo above by The Entrance Collective

Business Chats - Thoughtfulness

Do you know what's a long word to write out? Thoughtfulness. That's the word for today's Business Chats

Thoughtfulness - (adjective) Showing consideration for others; considerate

For me, and my business, thoughtfulness means going above and beyond to help someone, whether it be a client, a prospective customer, or even a friend. I try to offer extra ideas and suggestions, but without overstepping or putting down the client's ideas that they may ave brought to the table.

When working on custom pieces, I try to have the clients provide as many ideas as they can, so that they can feel like they contributed to a major part of the piece. I find this especially important for time when the custom order is going to be a gift. I want to make sure that whoever is commissioning the piece feel that they are instrumental in the gifted piece, and what it's going to look like. 

On Etsy, or through email from my contact page, when someone contacts me to start talking about a potential project, I don't mind walking the client through every single step, in detail. Sometimes, it can be their first time every using Etsy, and don't really know how to navigate the website. In the past, I have directed them through every little bit of the website, through looking for certain pieces (which may not even be my work!), to helping them add items to their cart and complete the checkout process. I don't mind taking the extra time to type out all of these directions, because I know that there's a chance that it could be beneficial in the future. They maybe feel less intimidated the next time they come looking for something in my, or someone else's, shop, and having that confidence behind their computer can be the difference between a sale or not. 

Sometimes, thoughtfulness can also mean adding little treats into your orders. I've had notes from customers telling me long background stories regarding their custom orders. Some have even brought me to tears! It's these people, who have taken the time to share a little bit more about themselves, and their stories, that make me want to go the extra step and through a little something extra into their order. Whether this be a little card, or a discount coupon, or even free shipping, it feels good knowing that you can make someone smile a little bit bigger when they open their package.

Even my packaging I like to make special. I take the time to make my shipping envelopes a little prettier, letter the recipients name in a way that makes them feel important. To me, thoughtfulness is making someone's day shine just a teeny bit brighter, and that can be finding a beautiful envelope in their mailbox one day, instead of the usual bills and flyers.

What do you do to add a little more thoughtfulness into your interactions with others? 

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Do you have any ideas for future Business Chat posts? Leave me a comment with your notes!

cafe photo above by The Entrance Collective

Business Chats - A New Series

Integrity- (noun) Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty

Hey there! Grab a cup of something warm, and have a seat. I'd like to have a little chat!

I’ve decided to start a small series focusing on business etiquettes and professional attributes that I would like to try to adhere to, and to encourage my fellow small business owners to follow as well.  First up in the Business Chats series, I’m concentrating on the word Integrity.

I have tried to maintain a certain level of integrity within my work, as well as within my day to day life. To me, as a Christian, I believe that integrity is an important attribute to provide to the world. As in the definition above, I’m adhering to the moral and ethical principles of Christianity, but I also believe that non-Christians would be happy following along with the same principles. Honesty, caring, kindness, and following through on what you say you are going to do.

That last point is what integrity means most to me. Following through. Recently I had a partnership go sour because of promises that were made that weren’t carried out. I walked away hurt. Hurt in my business, hurt in my self, and hurt that another small businessperson wouldn’t care enough about another small business to have the integrity to follow through. Too many dishonest and sneaky mistakes were made on their end, and unfortunately we both lost out.

I have since cut ties with that business, and wish them well. In hindsight, I’m glad that the partnership didn’t work out. I have learned so much that I can now confidently put even more integrity into practice in my profession, ensuring that I don’t hurt another small business like I was hurt. I will strive to have the integrity to communicate with clients and partners, to set out to do what I say I’m going to do. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through, on account of my actions. 

What are some business attributes that you value? Have you learned something from an experience that left your burned, or did you do the burning, and learn from it in turn? Share in the comments below, and perhaps your ideas will be included in future posts in this series!
                                   

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Interested in contributing a post in the business attributes column yourself? Send me an email, and we can talk about it! I’d be happy to share the stories of others in this space!

 

cafe photo above by The Entrance Collective