Sigh. I’ve fallen behind in my posts on my progress in the Right Brain Business Plan. Oh well. All I can do is pick up where I left off.
The Right Brain Business Plan (RBBP) e-course ended last week. It was both sad and uplifting. Sad because I’ll miss the weekly emails from Jen with our assignments and her mid-week and end of week check-in. It was uplifting because I finally feel like I’ve got a much better handle on the direction of my business. It was also uplifting to see how far my online classmates have come in developing and growing their businesses.
A major part of any business venture is the support network. This can include people you look up to (as in mentors), your closest buddies, people you go to for advice (advisors), coaches, art reps, and so forth. This network can also include assistants, VA’s, accountants, bookkeepers, your web designer, and more.
Of course, one of the hard parts about forming your support network is asking for help. What? Me? Need help? I’m superwoman (or superman), I can do it all. You’ve heard the excuses, you’ve used them yourself I’m sure. My favorite “I’ll just do it because then I know it will get done.” Been there, done that control dance. It can be a lonely dance.
So how does one go about identifying and growing your support network? First, think about what your role is in your business. What do you WANT your role to be in your business? Consider the usual roles people assume in small businesses, like production work, bookkeeping, and marketing. Are there areas in your business that you aren’t good at or don’t like doing?
Bruce Baker once said when you are an artist (or any soloprenuer), you either assume all those roles (bookkeeping, marketing, etc), partner with someone who will assume some of those roles, or marry someone who will help with some of those roles.
Granted all of us try to do it all at the start. And that works for a while. But then you realize your role is to make the art, not spend hours on the marketing or once-a-month bookkeeping. Then it is time to think about hiring an assistant in the studio, the bookkeeper, the marketing guru.
And this doesn’t mean you have to pay all these people. Perhaps you barter for services, trade artwork, take someone to dinner. Remember, you’re creative. All exchange of help and assistance does not necessarily require an outflow of money.
As part of this assignment, Jen posed several questions that helped us look at our roles in our businesses and our network. I admit to falling under what I call the superwoman category. I wasn’t totally surprised by this. But it also pointed out in black and white where I have some gaps in my support network.
Because this class uses our right brain creative skills, I created a simple mobile to acknowledge my support network. Each card is labeled with the particular support group and on the back I listed who I would turn to in each group. The cards are attached to each other with silk ribbon. This gives me the flexibility to hang the mobile in my studio or to fold it and carry it in my business plan vision book.
Once we developed our support networks, it was time to focus on setting some goals.
Yes, I hear you moaning. Goals. Ick.
After working as a Speech-Language Pathologist for several years, I had a very hard time writing simply stated goals. I had been trained to write detailed measurable goals in language that just seemed absurd for my business goals. However, business goals and therapy goals do have some things in common:
- You need to define the goal
- You need to figure out all the little steps you’ll take to achieve the goal
- You need to set an end-date for reaching the little steps and, subsequently, the big goal
I know lots of people don’t like setting let alone writing goals. I’ve learned over the years that I need the structure that goals provide. And I also need the support of other people to help keep me in line in achieving my goals.
(Psst, if goals aren’t your thing, check out Jen Louden’s “Satisfaction Finder” which helps us lovelies define the standards by which we’ll be satisfied; what some folks refer to as “enoughness.” This item comes recommended to me by a friend. I’ve not tried it myself nor have any affiliation with the product.)
I’m fortunate that I have two accountability partners to help me reach my goals: Sarah Marie Lacey, a wonderful painter, who I approached at the beginning of the year via our acquaintance on Twitter. We check in with each other every week, exchanging our goals for the week, and updating each other on how we did the previous week.
My other accountability partner is in the RBBP class. I sent a shout-out, asking if anyone wanted to work as partners and Beth responded. In this accountability partner relationship, I send Beth very specific goals with end dates (eg: Review 6 month revenue goals by 7/9/10.) And she is very good about checking in with me and asking my status on getting those goals done.
I typically write my daily priorities and to-do’s in a notebook that stays on my desk (just below my computer monitor so I always see it.) With the RBBP course, I was motivated to reuse an old white board and convert it into my Goal Board.
On my Goal Board, I drew a 6 by 5 grid. The first column (far left) is for my goals. Each goal is written on a separate sticky note. The other columns are for the to-do’s, folks I can turn to for support, target dates and actual completion dates.
What I love about this Goal Board is that it hangs on the wall directly across from my work table, so I see it everyday. With it being so visible, I can check it once a week, pull off stickies and update them or write a new one. I also love how colorful it is (love those brilliant colored sticky notes). That means I CAN’T miss it. It’s really in my face.