Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


2 Comments

Soloprenuer Wednesday: Business Values

So you’re working along at your little business, maybe it’s just a hobby, maybe it’s just a great idea. And someone asks you “why are you doing that?” Or perhaps they say “You want to do what?” (And why is the emphasis always on the last word?)

Have you asked yourself why you’re doing this little business you’ve started?

Dreams and Visions

In my last Soloprenuer Wednesday post, An Introduction, I ended with it by saying I had no idea what I was doing when I sold my jewelry to my first customer. I was stunned that someone wanted to buy my jewelry when I hadn’t planned to sell anything. Guess I was just in the right place at the right time.

So I made up a price on the spot (or shortly thereafter when I brought more pieces for her to look at.) I certainly didn’t know much about how to correctly price a product back then. But I’ll save the pricing discussion for a future post.

After selling a few pieces of jewelry to this person, she asked me if I could make something for a friend. Sure, why not. I can do that. Toss out another price. Isn’t this cool, my ego tells me, you’ve got your first customer who thinks your work is great and you’ll do anything to keep selling stuff to her.

Sure, great, but where is this taking me? Did I really enjoy making all this jewelry?

And what do I do now with all these extra pieces when my first customer tells me that she’s being laid-off and can’t buy my work any more?

My ego was very disappointed.

Having an idea of what I wanted to do with my art might have prepared me a bit better.

Visions and Values

It’s possible that had I mapped out a plan before landing my first customer, it would’ve been quite some time before I sold a piece of anything. It’s possible that if I waited for perfection, I might never sell anything. I’m not saying that what happened in my case is the wrong way to do it. Serendipity has a way of presenting itself whether we’re ready or not. I am suggesting that having an idea or vision about why you want to sell your art (or whatever your product is) can make life a little easier.

How do you do that?

One way to understand why you are jumping into this little business of you’ve started is to think about values-values that are important to you and in a business. This can include any number of things from loyalty to honesty, community to connection, good customer service, hard work to happiness. Look at companies you admire. What values do they promote?

Think about times in your life when you felt fully alive. Who were you being in those moments? What was going on around you? How can you bring those elements into your business?

Make a list of all those values. Are there any themes you notice?

Knowing your core values helps you make better business decisions because those values are honored in the decision making process.

Lessons Learned

Reflecting back on those early days, I think my only value then was to make as much money as possible. However the luster of making money wore off at some point.

Why?

Because I eventually learned that if my values were not reflected in my work, then my work lacked meaning. I got tired of making functional art items. I didn’t enjoy making.

I realized that there was more to running a business than just making money.

It would’ve taken quite a bit for me back then to say “I’m sorry, I’m not selling my art at this time” or to turn down a commission piece. Now I know better because I make those decisions in conjunction with my values.

What values are important to you in running your small business?

Advertisements


Leave a comment

It’s a Value Thing

Last month I started the Right Brain Business Plan E-course with Jennifer Lee. The online class has 23 creative souls supporting each other and cheering each other on as we work toward the creation of our business plans. We are supported and encouraged by Jenn each day through our periods of overwhelm, frustration, fear of the unknown, and battles with the negative inner voice. (Suggestion: tell your negative inner voice to go re-arrange the sock drawer. It seems to keep it pleasantly happy and out of your head.)

This is Week 3 of the class and I’m still working my way through part B of Week 2’s assignment. The beauty of online classes is that you can, more or less, work at your own pace. The frustration of an online class is that you might feel your pace is too slow. So while I’m playing catch-up on my homework assignments, I wanted to catch-up on blogging about the class.

Return to Week One

Way back in Week 1 we were asked to reflect on our values and the values of our business. This was a completely new concept to me. Not so much the personal values, but to actually think about the values I’d want for my business. I swear I’ve never seen this component mentioned in the traditional left-brain approach to writing a business plan. Curious.

I never gave this value thing a thought when I started my art business. Well, except for the “make money” value. Really. When I was put in this unplanned position (being asked to sell my art) what do you think the first thing was that came to mind?

Someone wants to pay me for my art = MONEY

And for a couple of years that really was the base goal: Make money. Make money to buy supplies. Make money to pay your bills.

There is certainly nothing wrong with making money. It feels good. Yet when the pressure (self or externally imposed) to make money is your main focus, the desire to keep doing that is going to result in a slow fizzle toward boredom, frustration, and asking “Is this all there is?” At least it did in my situation.

The Value Thing

Now that I am working on a business plan that focuses on expanding my business, I relish the thought of considering what I value in a business and how that influences my future business. After working through Jenn’s visualization exercise a couple of times and thinking about the questions posed during Week 1, here are the values that I find important:

  • Creativity & original thinking; originality, thinking out of the box
  • Acknowledgment & recognition; saying ‘thank you’
  • Independence
  • Community, networking, friendship, collaboration, teamwork
  • Communication, openness, being true to your word, being able to admit mistakes
  • Teaching, learning,growth, discovery, service
  • Empathy, encouragement, respect
  • Connection
  • Authentic
  • Spirituality
  • Adventure, exploring new frontiers
  • Leading, leadership, mentoring
  • Being open-minded and flexible
  • Sharing, helping, inspiring
  • Trust, support, secure environment
  • Happiness, laughter, fun
  • Contributing
  • Making meaning

I mentioned in a previous post a statement from the Week 1 exercise that caused an ‘a-ha’ moment for me. It bears repeating here:

As a right brain entrepreneur, if your values are not reflected in your work, your work will lack meaning. Are you being authentic in your business? If you’re compromising your values in your work, you’ll feel resentful, upset, burnt out and frustrated. When you’re aligned with your values, you’ll feel fulfilled and energized and that is what people will resonate with most.

What values are important to you? How do you bring those values to your business?

Next: Having Visions