Surviving It All With Creativity

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A round table discussion with Maria Nerius, sponsored by

This handout was part of a presentation at the Summer 2010 CHA tradeshow in Chicago.

General Advice given to Small Businesses

  1. Adaptability: Be aware of everything within the industry from new products, trends,business climate, consumer lifestyle, and even the politics. It’s the only way to be aware that you need to change it up. Be brave and lead the trends you believe in.
  2. Learn to ask questions. And that means asking questions about contracts, fees, and expenses.
  3. Avoid negativity, even in a negative situation you should be the positive light. This includes gossip with malice.
  4. Believe in community. We can do anything together; alone we are just another island in a sea of islands.
  5. Understand your limitations, but never let a limitation stop you.
  6.  Live in the moment, but keep a tight calendar/schedule. Be aware of time/labor.
  7. Be aware of any and all support options including grants, licensing, and consulting.
  8. Don’t take anything personally. Business is business is business. However, don’t underestimate your gut feelings and how you feel about your work.

Maria’s Business Rules

  1. Make your own work. Create your own job. Write a proposal and pitch it!
  2. Our work never ends. We are not 9-5 businesses. Remember to rest, relax, and regroup.
  3. Learn to say No. Business is business; no one works for free except volunteers. There is no individual who can save the industry, but we can earn an honest living that in turn keeps our industry healthy.
  4. Always, always follow your heart. Be yourself, it saves time and brain space. Speak up, nothing ever happens if communication isn’t involved.


  1. It’s a niche world. Find your niche and work it.
  2. Profit comes from being able to repeat a researched project, class, presentation, or article.
  3. Currently, there are no requirements or documentation  needed to be an expert, celebrity, star, or diva. Just make it so.
  4. Social media is fun, time consuming, and for most not a profit maker.
  5. Do you want to live your work or work your life?

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