Every successful business must live in three dimensions simultaneously: the past, the present, and the future. Too much time spent in one, means neglect in another. The three must merge into one beautifully intertwined, balanced thread.
Since I launched my creative business six months ago, I have been spending far too much time in future land.
I’ve built a nice social media network to share my future products. I also joined a creative guild that holds monthly challenges to help me increase my artistic skills. My sketchpad is brimming with ideas, and I’ve devoured every article I can on running a creative business.
Here is the kicker. While I am spending all of this time envisioning my creative empire, one crucial detail from the present goes unattended: INVENTORY.
Rebalancing the focus
Living in the future is great for a while, but now I need to focus on today. I’ve created a monthly production schedule that clearly outlines my present to-do-list with a small amount of time sprinkled in for strengthening my analytics and planning for what’s next. You get the idea, sometimes the future will take the lead; other times the past, and yes, even the present gets a turn at bat.
Is your business in balance? Consider these indictors.
Focus on the past
One may argue that there is no point to living in the past, but the past holds a wealth of information that can shape our future. It is healthy for business to look back.
Yet there are two ways your past gets out of sync, either you collect so much data that you are paralyzed by it, or you don’t collect enough to make good decisions based on it.
Sample activities to rebalance your past
- Learn to create tracking URLs for different promotional pieces so you can better evaluate your media budget.
- Use surveys, customer feedback, and past sales data to critique your product line.
- Think about customers you’ve talked to at shows or other places. What can those past encounters do to help you better identify your niche
Focus on the Present
When your business is balanced, you find yourself taking actions that are heavily rooted in what you’ve learned from the past and aligned with your future goals.
Sometimes, however, you neglect present action while you gather more data, or try to develop the perfect future plans. Or you may find yourself too focused the present. For example, you may create a huge inventory without looking at market needs or promotions plans to move that inventory.
Sample activities to rebalance your present
- Develop a detailed production schedule for the next three months.
- Outline an annual plan for your business. What are the major opportunities? (holiday sales, shows to attend)
- Prototype new product lines based on data collected from past performance and ideas generated from your planning sessions.
Focus on the future
A balanced business includes plenty of cerebral activity. Research, planning, analysis, they all play a role in inspiring you to reach for greater goals. Your business risks becoming unbalanced when brainstorming ideas and learning new skills to use “someday” take priority over things that need to be done today.
Sample activities to rebalance your future
- Develop a mission statement to help guide future business decisions.
- Create a mini retreat for yourself to research trends and brainstorm ideas.
- Refer to Megan’s article stop using “work” to procrastinate from doing real work.
- Then stop reading blog posts (just for a little bit). Look through your list of ideas. Pick one idea and DO SOMETHING to move it forward.
What techniques do you use to rebalance your business?
Marie Young is the author of the blog, “Creative Sprinkle,” about opening your creative faucet. Everyone has a creative spark, but sometimes life pees on it. The goal of the blog is to help people reignite the spark. Her new Etsy shop, Young Creative, features polymer clay creations, primarily handmade wedding cake toppers and jewelry designs sculpted in a romantic, sensual, light-hearted style.
I also wanted to let you know that I’m putting the finishing touches on the details for my first e-course, Marketing for Makers (and designers, crafters, and artists too) and I’ll be opening registration very soon. If you want to be the first to know about it (and get an amazing discount on the registration fee), make sure you’re on this list!