Connecting with your Tribe

Why your Art Needs a Story

As an artist, making each piece by hand, do you worry about competing with knock-offs made by children in China? Even if your designs are trademarked and copyrighted,  you likely can’t afford the lost time or emotional reserves to fight these mass manufacturers.  I’ve watched it happen to so many artists and I know it’s a struggle to stay ahead of the copy-cats. So, what can you do about it? How can you differentiate your work from the inexpensive look-a-likes? Well, the best way I know is to make sure that shoppers know the difference so that they appreciate the value of your work and understand why it commands a higher price tag. Otherwise, they are not going to pay $279. for a piece that looks just like what they’ve seen in the Target or Walmart. And the one element that makes your work worth paying more for is the YOUness. If your work doesn’t have a story, your customer can’t understand the value and there is no way they are going to pay more for something that looks just like the cheaper one. Now, more than ever, your art needs a story.  Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor,  said  “in today’s world almost anyone you want to influence is operating under a deficit of human attention.”  They are drowning in facts, information and  statistics. They need a story they can relate to.  Most people don’t remember facts and figures. They do remember stories. As an artist, you need a story too. If you’re showing your work at a juried craft show, chances are the attendees  understand the value of your work. In that case, just being personable and explaining a bit about your process, inspiration, etc will help reinforce the old know-like-trust factor. They’ll be loyal fans because they know your face and like you. However, if you exhibit at an un-juried show, it’s likely that some vendors have slipped imports into the mix and you’ll have to work harder to make sure the customers know you.. Knowing your “story”, where you came from and how you got where you are now, adds that human element and makes your work worth the higher price. If your art is represented in a gallery, you may Continue reading

What do Bill Gates, Plato, Harvey Firestone (tires), Andrew Carnegie, Ben and Jerry (ice cream), Aristotle, Thomas Edison and Socrates all have in common?

What do Bill Gates, Plato,  Harvey Firestone (tires), Andrew Carnegie, Ben and Jerry (ice cream), Aristotle, Thomas Edison and Socrates all have in common?

None of them did it alone. They all were part of a group that met regularly with the purpose of helping one another attain their goals. They were each involved in a Mastermind.

In fact, I don’t know of a single person who has been super successful without the help of a mastermind.

Just as you’re more likely to drag yourself out of bed if you’re  running buddy is counting on you and you’re less likely to stray from your diet if you have to weigh in weekly with the group at Weight Watchers, having an accountability group keeps you on task.

Accountability is only one of many reasons entrepreneurs need to be part of a mastermind.

The beauty of a mastermind group lies in it’s ability to defy mathematics. You see, when you put 8 entrepreneurs in a room together, the resulting brain power is much more than the sum of 4+4. I can’t tell you why but I believe it has something to do with the way entrepreneurs thrive on challenge and problem solving. We love to share what we’ve learned to  help others achieve success.

If you haven’t been successful in launching or growing your small business, it’s likely because you don’t have a group of other entrepreneurs to brainstorm with, network on your behalf and challenge you to work towards and meet your goals.

An effective mastermind group will give you the benefit of different perspectives and share resources, tactics and connections. You’ll inspire each other and offer valuable feedback that your friends, family or employees can’t give because they just don’t understand the way an entrepreneur thinks. You need people who can relate to and give input on your unique challenges  because they’ve been there.

When you occasionally spin off course, get sidelined or distracted by too many ideas or you lose momentum because of a let-down, your mastermind will help you get back on track and regain focus.

A well-functioning mastermind will help you overcome your stumbling blocks because they are looking at your obstacles through varying lenses, bringing different skill sets from diverse backgrounds.

If you’re a solo-entrepreneur, you can’t go it alone. You need the mutual support, advice and counsel of other entrepreneurs and the guidance of those who’ve climbed the mountain before you.

Because we believe that being part of an effective mastermind group is like having your own board of directors,  Barbara Winter and I have put together something you’ll want to be a part of. Get the scoop HERE.

Join a tribe, create your sewing circle, make a living and a difference

Last week, I put out a call for people who love to sew but hate to market. I was thrilled at the overwhelming response from readers and astonished at what some had to say. Many of the emails I received were from people looking for a “work-from-home JOB”.  Why would  someone who for a long time went by the name “self-employment muse.” want to “hire” you?
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that my mission is to help people create meaningful self employment, that I once had a payroll of over one hundred. While I loved knowing that my business was enabling people to earn a living, it broke my heart when the business could no longer support that many employees. I am committed to empowering people to be responsible for their own livelihood and not be at the mercy of a boss.
It’s my conviction that the creation of small businesses will be the cure for a sick economy; that the only real security is self employment. When I put out that call last week for people who love to sew but hate to market, it was in response to all of you who say you are looking for a way to make a living doing what you love. You love to create but not sell. I LOVE marketing, letting people know about cool products, especially handmade items.  So, what I’m looking for are people who want to be self employed, want to have their own business and be their boss. I don’t sew but I have a product that I know will sell if you, the crafters, supply it.  It’s my goal to create a tribe of entrepreneurs who love what they do and have control of their own time, income and environment.

If it’s a job you’re looking for, I’m not your gal.  But, if you’re seeking inspiration and guidance to be your own boss, to join a tribe of inspired entrepreneurs, let’s talk. You have the equipment since you already sew. You can do all the sewing yourself or create your own community, your sewing circle. And we’ll all be making a difference, making income doing what we love. That’s what inspired livelihood is all about.

Don’t listen to to media. Selling crafts is not typical retail.

This past week, the news was full of more doom and gloom about retail closings and mall bankruptcies.  It would be easy to get discouraged, thinking, “If a big department store that’s been in business for generations can’t make it, how will I?”  Well, you aren’t in competition with the big box stores. And if you’re comparing yourself to them, it’s time for a major mindset shift.

Your target customer is the discriminating shopper who wants something unique and handcrafted. Yes, people are being more careful with their dollars now and you have the advantage in that when times are tight, consumers want what they are spending on to be special. They may not be shopping for household appliances right now but when it comes time to purchase a gift or a piece of artwork for their home,  they are making conscious choices and want something they don’t see everywhere.  

Keep sight of who Continue reading