Tag Archives: Sweet Clover Studios

When to Let Go

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As a Small Business Owner, I suspect that you have had more than one good idea about the direction of your business. The business that you run today is probably also not exactly what you first envisioned.

The reason for this is likely because along the way you made small strategic decisions to go towards one goal or direction and let some things go along the way. Sometimes those little pivots are enough to create a business that you truly love but sometimes a bigger ‘letting go’ is needed to really create success.

For someone who has personally gone through the tough decisions of when to let go – I wanted to share my personal experiences as well as share what I have learned by seeing some of my business mentors shift gear.

With personal evaluation, I have always considered two key factors that help me determine when it’s time to let go and when to go forward. The first thing is my personal satisfaction/motivation and the other is the outer result of my work.

My ‘satisfaction’ is determined by my excitement (or lack of), my flow of ideas and interest in everything related to my business industry.

I saw this personally when I was no longer spending my time researching. As an expert in the field I was centered around, I really wanted to be on the leading edge of any new findings and strategies. Beyond that, I was also committed to using and implementing all of my research to make sure I was providing the most relevant and founded information. When I found myself avoiding podcasts on the topic and choosing different books at the library it was one of my first indications that I would not be able to make the long haul in the industry.

The outer ‘result’ that I used to assess my situation was how I felt about the work I was producing and the impact I had on others. If I could see that what I was bringing to the table was truly revolutionary, that would have been a reason to hang on. But the truth was, it wasn’t. I didn’t feel like I was bringing a fresh enough perspective or creating positive change in the world on a level that I really wanted too.

Looking into the future was also a big part of how I made the final decision to let my first business go. I looked at the careers of those who were further ahead of me and I just couldn’t see myself really thriving at that level. While I was ‘out there’ looking, it also gave me an opportunity to look at what others were doing that I could see myself being in the same arena with, which happened to be in a different industry.

By seeing these business mentors from a 10,000-foot view I was able to see how they also continued to make shifts and let go, sometimes in big ways, and other times in small programs or offerings.

Every time I would see this – (because I admired the way they did business) I could appreciate their courage in trying something new, even if it wasn’t my favorite thing they had ever done. That’s why I encourage you to take a look at your own business and feel brave when you feel a change coming on that may include letting go. It may just be the best thing you have ever done.

The overall perspective here is that sometimes it is worth it to push through the tough times and sometimes it is better to just let it go. Considering these concepts will hopefully help you find the best path for you.

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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Benefits of Experimentation For Every Industry

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Many years ago, I was involved in a high leveled art program. Everyone who was apart of the program was given their own studio, freedom to structure their workflow and access to anything from a photography dark room (Yes, it was that long ago) to oil paints.

However, there was part of the program that was structured. It was the requirement to produce something that they called ‘Experimental Studio Research’ (ESR). This wasn’t the perfectly polished framed painting that you may think your mentors want to see – no. This was the process. The work that brought you to that finished piece. The samples of palettes that didn’t work. The sketches that never produced a finished product.

At first, I almost had to force myself to experiment because I was usually quite certain of how I wanted to work. But I learned valuable lessons by committing to ESR, and it is something that I have taken into every business I have been apart of.

The lessons translate to business so well because as we all know – there are no guarantees and it is inevitable that some things will work better than others. For the purposes of this article – the ‘Studio’ can refer to your industry and the ‘experiments’ are considered strategies that you implement and programs, products and services you offer.

For example, let’s use the coaching industry. You may try offering one-to-one intensive retreats for the first time instead of your 3-month group packages.  You have never marketed such high priced service so you expand to advertising in high-end print magazines instead of investing in just Facebook ads. After two months you haven’t gotten any sales of your retreat but have gotten 25 phone calls about your 3-month packages and requests for year-long programs. Taking the risk (experimenting) with a different marketing approach didn’t get the desired results, but there was unexpected benefits. The results of the ‘research’ of trying a different approach then led to business growth by finding the coach’s clients and what their needs are.

As you can see in the example – one important lesson is that: effort in one direction may actually benefit you in another area that you don’t necessarily expect. The key is to be open to the findings of the ‘research’ and less focused on the unexpected turns that will inevitably come.

Another lesson I applied through this concept is that the ‘process’ is valuable too. You may not only get unexpected business growth, but you may find unexpected skills and interests of your own that you can apply to the future of your business. For example, the coach we talked about before may have found out that she really loved the long-term relationship that she was able to develop over a year’s worth of services.

The value of perceiving things this way is that you can really avoid the ‘failure’ mindset. If everything you do is used to inform your next decision (Ie: NO one bought that program, or I got 400 new sign ups with the newest opt-in), it is all valuable. Knowing what didn’t ‘work’ is just as important as knowing what does.

I hope that reading this you have considered how your ‘experiments’ within your industry can still contribute to the success and growth of your business, even if you ended up not proceeding the way you originally thought.

 

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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Competition Elimination

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As small business owners, we are constantly reminded of the large volume of competition out there. It could be a local shop owner who is selling similar products as you or a service provider that just moved into your neighborhood.

No matter what industry you are in – you are going to face ‘competition’ at one time or another. In my field – (design), I am constantly surrounded by talented entrepreneurs who could make me think that I don’t have a shot at my big dreams. Instead of thinking about those individuals as being competition, I have stuck to my belief that there is something you can do, which could almost completely eliminate the competition mindset.

From personal experience, (as well as taking cues from very successful small business owners), I have discovered that the way to really step away from competition is to focus on two things. Who you are and why you want to provide the product or service that you do.

‘Who you are’ (for the purposes of this article) is another way of saying: ‘what is unique about your business’ based on your personal skills, strengths, experiences and perspective. In business exercises you may hear people use the term ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP) – which is a common term for an exclusive offering. Often people identify and express this USP is through branding, messaging, copy etc. To really make these expressions – I suggest weaving YOU into those messages using things that only you can offer. Lean on what you have learned and see how it can differentiate your business from your competition.

‘Why’ you want to provide the products and services is also unique. Your intrinsic motivation is often more powerful and inspirational than the threat of someone taking your clients and consumers, as is in the ‘competition’ mindset.  As an example – think about a business owner who runs an all-natural skin care line. If she started the business after seeing her child suffer from terrible reactions to big brand-name creams, that would be a big differentiator from her competition. Knowing that she is dedicated to helping other mothers soothe their children’s painful rashes isn’t the same as being the lowest priced item (Which may be another skin-care lines USP).

Some people may argue that competition is a necessary part of business. You may even think that it is naïve to think that competition doesn’t need to be the focus. I am not saying that you can ignore the fact that there may be someone doing something very similar to you. I simply suggest that you use any similarity to inspire you to showcase everything that is unique about you as a business owner and why you got started.

Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com

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