Yesterday I wrote about diversifying your small business and how important I felt it was that you have several related but different ways to earn income. I was pleased to hear from everyone how much people appreciated that idea. There are many different ways you can diversify into related fields and expand the scope of your business. I suppose the trick is to find a good balance between the different aspects and be able to work in several directions at once. Doing this often reminds me of a kaleidoscope, with its every-changing patterns, as day by day the needs of the different parts of your business can vary greatly. I think because of this it is very important to be flexible and be willing to follow whatever is demanding your time at the moment.
One thing that I find to be extremely helpful is networking. Talking to other people in similar circumstances is both professionally valuable as well as a socially enhancing. Learning from others’ experiences first hand can be one of the best tools that your small business can use to improve your own business. Having a large variety of choices through the internet can help those of us who even live in remote areas keep on top of things and stay connected to both customers and others in our industry. Being a former Chicagoan who now lives in rural Nova Scotia, I can attest to the value of staying connected.
I find places like Lumberjocks and Facebook a valuable and important part of my business day. I also try to visit other related woodworking and painting forums and answer and participate in them as much as I can. Not only does this make me feel that I am contributing to the crafts that I enjoy so much, but it also gets me ‘out there’ and meeting people with similar interests and passions. It isn’t always about selling.
You would be surprised at how many genuine friendships I have made through the internet. So often we hear bad things about chat rooms and internet friendships, but I strongly feel that if used in the proper way, participating in these types of activities and socializing online can not only enhance our businesses, but our personal lives as well.
One of the biggest downfalls of owning your own business is that it can sometimes be isolating. Finding healthy forums and groups to join online can be stimulating and uplifting as well as educational and supportive for small business owners. I have found an immeasurable amount of support and inspiration from my online friends and it also offers me the opportunity to get to know some of my customers on a personal level as well. That only proves to be a positive thing for my business, and also builds a good relationship with others. People are more willing to do business with someone they feel they know and trust and has a good reputation. It all works in a positive manner.
I also like to participate in things like exchanges and swaps through these groups. To me, that is part of the joy of doing something that I love for a living. This past Christmas I joined two ornament exchanges from various groups (one scroll sawing and one painting) and I was just as thrilled to receive the ornaments as I was to give them. I always enjoy seeing others’ creativity and I truly cherish all of my exchange gifts that I receive. It reminds me that I am not just selling a piece of paper when I sell my patterns, but I am offering a teaching lesson and helping someone else find joy in creating. I love the personal stories behind my customers and I love seeing what they do with my patterns. It is always a thrill to see projects that I have designed displayed by others, and also see their own take on them.
Yesterday I finished my current exchange gift for my painting group that I am part of on Facebook. The theme for the exchange was “Have a Heart” and the exchange was to be anything painted that had a heart involved in it. I chose to use some cute bears that Holly Hanley designed as a basis for my gift and I added some letters to make the word “Love”. (Holly is one of my favorite painting designers and you can visit her site at http://www.hollyhanley.ca to see more of her designs.)
I loved creating this fun project and I can’t wait to get it on its way to its new home. Doing projects like this and working from other designers’ patterns gives me a little break from designing my own things and I do believe that it helps me from feeling ‘burned out’ or stressed. It was very fun and relaxing to follow someone else’s design for a change and it reminds me why I do what I do in the first place. I am a firm believer that being passionate about your business is very key to being successful. When it starts to weigh heavily on you or be a burden, you need to take a step back and take a breath and do something to help you remember why you are doing it in the first place.
Today it is back to writing for me. I need to finish up the article on refinishing the old box with the DecoArt Chalky Paint that I showed a few weeks back. I was pleased that the magazine wanted me to share that in an article, as it is a really fun product that I am very excited about.
I hope you all have a wonderful day as well. Remember to do something you are passionate about and take time to enjoy your life. Share your passion with others around you whenever you can. In the end, it is not just the destination that is important, but the daily journey to reach it.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"