I am sitting here this morning and having a difficult time getting started writing. Not because I have little to say, but quite the opposite. The problem being that what is going through my mind aren’t all pleasant or positive thoughts, but actually a rather harsh and realistic look at things and my business in general.
I have posted in this series for over 200 consecutive days now, and when I began this blog, I decided that this journal of my business and how it affects my daily life would not only document the accomplishments and achievements that I reach, but also the stumbling blocks that I meet along the way to what hopefully will be a successful venture. I realize that I bring a lot of personal feelings and thoughts into the discussion, but there is no way that I can segregate my business side from my personal side. Perhaps that is some of the problem.
Since May when I began writing here, I have experienced a good deal of growth. I look back to where I was then and the place that I am now and I definitely see improvement. I am happy about that. I am not quite comfortable yet and not quite convinced that doing this will be able to sustain me, but there are still avenues that I haven’t explored yet so I am not ready to give up. There are days though, that I get somewhat tired of fighting the battles and wonder what the heck I am doing this to myself for. Fortunately, with the assistance of support from others and a little time, those moments don’t seem to linger and I am able to get back on a positive path and reset my focus back to positive thoughts and actions.
I have said before how valuable I feel the feedback that I receive here has been to me. Although I barely know most of you, I consider many of you my friends. Your daily support and suggestions have not only helped me personally, but have also forced me to look at things from many different perspectives – something that I am unable to accomplish on my own. Although I haven’t always agreed with every time someone has given me advice or suggestions, I can honestly say that whether I did so or not they still helped me see things from many perspectives and I have definitely benefited from your input.
I also try to give back to the forum here and help others where I can. I often feel it is an uneven exchange because when I give a nugget of advice or answer a question, I don’t always realize the value of the information to the recipient. Many times are am reminded of its worth after a suggestion of mine is implemented and it makes me realize that I do have things to contribute here. Many times if it isn’t said on the public forum it arrives in a personal message. Either way it is appreciated and does help to make me feel that I am of value here too.
With that said, I do want you all to be aware how much I value your daily input and thoughts that you offer. Your collective experience and wisdom has helped me make better decisions and approach my business in a way that I haven’t been able to previously. I do have a partner for the first time in my business and I find it is very helpful also to have someone to share the daily burdens and decision making with, but like myself, he is so close to things that sometimes it is difficult to emotionally separate from things and look them with complete objectivity.
I see the approaching end of the year as a time for evaluation. For me, it is an opportunity to sit back and take a firm and objective look at my business and crunch numbers and decide which direction to head in the future. I like bringing in a new year. To some it is just another day, month, year rolling along, but to me it symbolized fresh beginnings and (because I am an optimist) new hope.
Each year I spend the week after Christmas getting organized and making goals for my business. In the past when my life was quite a mess, I only did this half-halfheartedly. But this year I am in a good place in my life and I am definitely up for the task of doing what I need to do to make things succeed. I see many opportunities on my horizon and it will be my choice whether or not I will choose to pursue them. In doing so, it may mean that I will have to act and react differently than I have in the past, and I realize that some people will not understand or like that. But if I honestly look back at my past business performance common sense tells me that in order to better things, some things needs to change.
I have a history among not only my business colleagues but also many others in my life of being a ‘soft touch’. My patience is long and even when I am pushed to the limit, I tend to quietly go away. I don’t like confrontation, even if I know I am being wronged or short-changed. There are people and companies that try to take advantage of this and I am finally beginning to see how detrimental this is both professionally and personally. It is starting to dawn on me that operating in this manner will not only cripple my business, but surely be the death of it.
If I am to survive in this profession, I need to take a definitive stance. I am not saying that I will be heartless or unfair, but only that I will begin to approach situations and make decisions with my own interests first and foremost. After all, that is what any successful company does. Am I so foolish to think that they actually have my interests in mind? I am ashamed to say that for many years I have thought in that direction. But finally the fog is lifting and I am realizing that their own interests come first, not mine. I am no longer selling my wares at a friendly neighborhood craft fair for an extra couple of dollars. This is my livelihood and if it is going to support me I need to treat it as such. Otherwise I don’t stand a chance.
So what brought on this reality check you may ask? As usual, it isn’t one specific event, but an accumulation of things one by one added to the pile. Eventually, the elephant was staring me right in the eyes and I feel he can no longer be avoided. I can’t (and will not) sit here in good consciousness and wonder why things aren’t going along as I want them to when I am still doing things that are not in my best interest. If I do continue on the path I have been traveling, you can be pretty sure that my company wouldn’t make it to the year 2012.
I am going to wind up on a positive note though. Change – although uncomfortable – can be a good thing. Most of us don’t like change I believe, yet we wonder why we are stuck in the same place year after year. My business is “OK” right now, but I want it better. How can I logically expect it to change for the better if I don’t make some changes myself? After all, I AM my business.
I realize that there will be some waves and rifts in this process, and I am prepared for that. I am sure I will ruffle some feathers when the same people that were able to walk all over me and take advantage will no longer be able to do so. I have seen evidence of this in this past year as I was in the process of rebuilding. It seems they were used to the softer, sappier me and when I began making (perfectly reasonable) demands they were some times out of sorts because they couldn’t get away with what they were used to with me.
I expect they will get over it. If not then we all have other options. If I can’t make a living at this, I have no business doing it. It really is that plain and simple.
On a final note, to those of you who were wanted to be updated regarding what has been done about the skating pond scene issue, of the two ads that I sent the magazine, they are going to run the one that only shows the skating pond scene and no other products that I offer.
“And that’s all I am going to say about that.”
I wish you all a truly wonderful day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"