So you’ve just launched your new creative business and you’re working hard at it. The successes are small but regular and you are doing what you love. The only downside is that you are working alone 99.9% of the time.
Not sure if the new piece has appeal to anyone but you?
Wondering what you can add to the mix to boost sales?
Need some input or advice on a business matter?
Building a supportive community of like minded creative people can not only make your business less lonely but also a lot more successful. How?
Find a mentor. Is there someone who is doing something you really want to do? Do they seem to have figured out the one thing that has you pulling your hair out? Write them with your question. Be sure to keep it to only one or two questions, be brief and be gracious and appreciative of their time if they reply. Don’t be surprised if they reply that they charge for their mentorship. If you can afford it then, why not? If you can’t afford the mentor then look for someone else who may have the answer to your question. Don’t forget to look in other industries or groups for a mentor. Just because he or she may not work in the exact same materials or field you do doesn’t mean they can’t be a great mentor.
Build a network. Find or start a monthly, local “Meet Up” of other small, creative business people. All it takes is a place to meet and you can launch your own support group where you may find the one person who has figured out how to do the thing that has had you stumped for the last 2 weeks. Keep in mind that Meet Up groups are public which can be a little scary but also exciting. Just be sure to go into the meet up open to new ideas. You never know what information you might come up with to help you boost your small business.
Search for a professional organization. Look for a Fine Art Guild or other local professional organization that you might join. Don’t forget about resources such as SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives),which is a volunteer organization which matches retirees with new entrepreneurs, or Small Business Development Centers which are usually found in larger cities and/or connected with universities or colleges.
Create a small, personal group. Have you met other crafters at local shows that you hit it off with? Are there people you’ve met on facebook or twitter that live nearby who might also be looking for support? Meet up on occasion to create together, take in an art show, or simply have a “show and tell” type of critique, maybe even just coffee dates to discuss business issues. Public groups like the public Meet Up as well as smaller, more private groups will net different results and insights for your small business.
Network at galleries, art shows, craft fairs and other public venues. Talk to the artists and creators, talk about their work, ask questions, leave your business card. You never know when a valuable new connection might be made. Be sure to respect the time of the person you are talking to and never interrupt them if they are busy or talking to a potential customer. But if they have time be sure to make a connection.
Let’s face it, we all need community and as creative business people we can’t always rely on family and close friends to be objective in their critiques or to even understand how trying it can be at times to work alone so much. Working alone also doesn’t do much to help you grow as a creative. You need fresh ideas, insights and the occasional “What were you thinking?” to help you stretch and grow.
How do you connect with people outside your studio? What connections have you made that have really helped your business?
By: Vicki O’Dell , The Creative Goddess