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Is Creative Business A Spiritual Path?- Part II

My last blog post on this subject generated some really interesting comments. One of these, from Samara Greenwood, expressed a view that I think is shared by many, so I wanted to expand on that in this post. Her insightful comments were:

Hi Susan,
Loved this post. Interestingly, I am one of those people that shy away from the word spiritual in general (can’t explain exactly why) yet I totally agree with everything you have said here! I was wondering though, could you describe a bit more about what you mean by ‘spiritual path’? In the sense that it means personal development & growth – & being our most honest selves in the world – I’m completely onboard. I wonder what else you might be alluding to when you say it though – would you be happy to expand on this? Thanks! Sam x

The question of my creative business being a spiritual path is a deeply personal one, and one that it has taken me a really long time to come around to.  I have in fact avoided saying this very thing because of the weirdness that people can have around the word spiritual, or the notion of a spiritual path. But I can think of no other adequate way to describe how my business experience is for me.

For many years – most of which I was running Manque Design (my clothing label) – I was trying to grow according to traditional business wisdom, but my gut was increasingly telling me to move in a different direction. I resisted this for a really long time, because who the hell walks away from successful clothing label, when you’ve slogged your guts out on for years, and [...]

Is Creative Business A Spiritual Path?

I’ve been mulling something over for quite some time, wondering if I should express this point of view here (the brave and honest thing to do, in my estimation) or just leave the whole thing alone (otherwise known as the cowards way out).  But I have to say it, because I’ve been around long enough to know that if you are going to put yourself out there in the way that I am with Creative Conversation, you have to be 100% honest about who and what you are about, otherwise isn’t it all really just bullshit?

So here it is…drum roll please….I think that the creative business path is really one of the most spectacular spiritual paths you can be on.  There.  I said it.  I think business is a spiritual path and that is the way that I treat it. And thus, it is the way that I want to communicate about it.  And if you think that’s a load of BS, then I bid you a very warm sayonara, it’s been nice knowing you.  Because from henceforth, I will not be talking about business in a way that about a million other business coaches today are.

I will not be skirting around the edges of something that I think is a fact – You, as a creative professional, made your business because you LOVE what you do.  You feel CALLED to what you do, and you wish to make a commitment, through thick and thin, to make that creative path that you love your main gig.  Sounds an awful lot like a spiritual path if you ask me.

And here is another thing – the journey you are on in creating that business, giving it [...]

Honoring the Ebb as much as the Flow

These past few weeks have been a period of hibernation for me. I’ve been laying low, feeling quiet, and the need to just take a bit of a breather. As winter solstice has happened in this time, I’m not surprised at my need to bunker down and cocoon a little. I’ve enjoyed lots of long cuddles with my kids and also my fair share of afternoon naps. I’ve also had a couple of lunches with friends and few extra yoga classes. And my workday has been short, some days, very short. I have had the paintbrush out far more than I have been sitting at my computer.

Once upon a time, I would have had they whip out in noticing this behavior in myself. I would have pushed myself to get my but into gear and stick to my schedule.  But the thing is, that time is done in my life- the time of pushing the river, the time of whipping the very tired horse. It’s a new paradigm for me, one where I listen when my body and emotions tell me to slow down for a while. One where I question the schedule rather than blindly following it, because I need to check that I am on course to a destination that I actually like, as opposed to one that looks good on paper.

But this process is a relatively new thing for me, so I’m not sure yet that I trust it. All I really know is that when I push myself through these times to perform, is that I am not terribly effective and I generally wind up a bit of an emotional wreck- at which time I end up taking the break that [...]

Having A Business Means ‘Making it Up’….A Lot!

Last week I was honored to speak at the Darebin Arts Creative Business Seminar Series. It was a 90 minute seminar in which I shared, quite frankly, my top 10 “Things I Wish I Had Known” when I was starting out in my clothing label,  Manque Design, some 14 years ago.

I could do a bit of a breakdown of what the talk entailed, and I probably will at some stage of the game. But what I really want to discuss is something that I touched on in the talk and extended upon rather hugely in my personal development in carrying off this event.

That thing was: “Things I wish I had known: No.2: HAVING A BUSINESS MEANS ‘MAKING IT UP’…A LOT!”

When you start out in a small business, you basically begin a process of exposing yourself to a large number of things that you have never done before. Learning how to do your books, learning social media marketing, figuring out how to have conversations with clients that sell. The list is endless really. And what this requires is a willingness to think on your feet and trust in your natural ability to figure stuff out.  This is what I mean when I say “making it up”.

Some ‘entrepreneurial types’ are unnervingly comfortable with this – their willingness to try new things on for size just part of their everyday swagger. But for most of us, it’s not so easy. Many of the tasks required of us, make us squirm with unease, with a lack of trust in ourselves that we will be able to pull it off, whatever ‘it’ is.

Last week I heard a quote, it went something like this: “For most humans, their greatest fear [...]

Are You Addicted to Business Being Hard?

I was for the longest time and it is still a habit I am trying to unlearn. It is so easy believe that you have to do a certain thing because you think or have been told that it is the way to do it, that it is guaranteed to bring you success.   And such an approach is very alluring for the creative professional trying to pave their way in the business world. But following this path of the ‘right way to do’ also happens to be, in my opinion, the fast track to making your work life feel hard.

It’s one thing to try new things and see what works for you, it is quite another to employ a method or approach to business and keep doing it even if the process itself makes you miserable.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as I have a few clients who are approaching the time in their creative business where they are deciding whether or not they would like to wholesale or take on a more commercial approach to selling their work on a bigger scale, or keep it smaller and more boutique, perhaps not bringing in the big bucks, but maintaining a smaller profile and their role as a maker.

Neither approach is innately right or wrong. But I believe the most important question is not “how can I make more money?” but “Will the daily tasks that this approach to business brings be enjoyable to me or will they feel super-hard?”

There is a subtle but huge difference between putting yourself out of your comfort zone and trying things on for size, and keeping on doing something because you think you should. One denotes [...]

The Common Denominator with Successful Creatives

I’ve had a fascination with the creatives for a long time. Back in my university days (in, dare I say it, the early-mid 90’s), it led to me studying art history for six years. The fascination has never ceased, particularly as I have traversed my own path as a designer.

In particular, I have been fascinated in finding some kind of common thread amongst the ‘great’ artists, some secret that they were all onto that the rest of us could perhaps learn from. And there was one thing that became abundantly clear to me the more that investigated incredible creatives, the ones that really stood outside the square and did something truly inspiring and original. THEY WERE TRULY AND UNABASHEDLY THEMSELVES. In their art, certainly, and often in their life in general too.

Lately I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Over summer I took some time off. I was feeling burned out and lacklustre, an all too common trait in my creative cycles that I’d really like to change, or at least reduce. I also realised that I was going down a road in the creation of my new business enterprise that was leading me down paths that didn’t really feel right and that needed tweaking. Having already created one business that went against the grain, this was not something I wanted to repeat.

Those who know me, know that I am all about following my intuition, so I really wanted to take time out just to listen for what was right for me, and what tweaking needed to happen to set me back on a track that is more holistic.

And what my intuition told me was this: BE COMPLETELY AND UNABASHEDLY YOURSELF! Fancy that, the [...]

The True Role of Inspiration, Epiphany and The Muse

Do you know what I love? I love it when I get excited about something. Excited in the way where every fibre of your being tingles with the knowledge that you are doing what you are meant to be doing, despite impracticalities and a smaller voice telling you why such a thing should and can’t be. Do you know what I am talking about? Have you had that experience? This feeling is also known as inspiration, epiphany and ‘the muse’. It’s a moment and a state of being where something between you and the outer world clicks in such a way that an opening is created in the realm of possibility. Whether or not, like Alice, you choose to fall down the rabbit hole in moments such as these is entirely another matter.

I am fortunate in that I have that feeling on a semi-regular basis- enough to know that when it comes around that I need to pay attention and follow my nose and all the signs because it is leading to the next path on what has been a pretty amazing creative journey. And I really love living my creative life in this way because I know that when I am inspired in this way that I am living in alignment with my purpose on this planet. That may sound a bit corny, but I really do! It is what connects me not just to my creative path as a designer, artist and coach but also to my role in the creation of my own life. Because, whether you like it or not, this is what we are all doing every single day!

I love that feeling of true inspiration and connectedness because it [...]

Making Business An Art- My Top 5 Tips

There are billions of ways to make a painting.  The variations are endless and unique and that is part of what makes them art.

I think that a small business should really be treated this way.  But instead we are trained to think that there are very specific and finite ways to create a business.  I subscribed to this way of thinking for a very long time as I educated myself in traditional business models and strategies.   And I must say that it did work from the point of view that my business made money and grew from year to year, just as its ‘meant’ to.

But what it didn’t do is give me a business that melded well with my personal life, particularly as a women looking to create a family.  And also what it didn’t do was give me a business that expressed my deeper sense of purpose.

Over the past three years, I have done a lot of deconstructing of my old business model and gone about creating a new one that supports my personal life and realistically fits with my reality as a business owner, a mother of a one and two year old and a wife.  Hence you get a blog post about once a month- that seems to be all I can fit in at this point in time!

I describe it as approaching my business holistically: seeing my business as something that integrates with all areas of my life that are meaningful to me, and not making myself so busy to the point that I lose activities that are really important to me such as yoga.

In essence, I’ve really tried to give the creation of my business the same mindfulness, receptiveness [...]

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    Which Business Model is Right for You? The Essential Questions to Ask Yourself.

Which Business Model is Right for You? The Essential Questions to Ask Yourself.

One of the issues I assist creative people with most frequently in my consulting and coaching practice is figuring out which business model they want to pursue.  There are so many options these days for how to go about structuring your business and how to go about selling your product or service that it can be really tricky to figure out which is the right way for you.

There is no simple answer to this, though the internet seems to be full these days of online companies that offer you ‘the’ strategy to achieve a six-figure income.  Such offers can be very alluring, particularly for creatives who are struggling to bring in the income they would like to.  But you really need to ask yourself are these promises sustainable?  Are they relevant to an Australian market (if you are indeed Australian like me).?  And last, but certainly not least, is the business model and the tasks required of you to action it actually something that you want to do? Let me repeat DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO THE JOB YOU ARE SIGNING UP FOR?  I find it staggering how many people do not really think carefully about this question.  And lately I’m hearing lots of creatives complain about how much time these seem to spend in front of the computer.

It is true that the internet has offered us freedom to earn like never before for creative professionals.  Do it yourself websites that cost barely nothing and retina displays that offer excellent visuals have made it possible to market your art anywhere in the world.  And ‘must do’ online marketing methodologies seem to be popping up like new religions everywhere!  All well and good, and [...]

Sometimes Stopping is the Best Way to Start.

Last year I decided that I would be taking  December and January ‘off’.  After over 13 years trapped in relentless fashion production cycles, I never really had the opportunity to completely take time off and shut down my business (asides from to have a baby), so I thought, this is the year!

It took me the better part of December to switch myself off and tie up loose ends, so that left me with January.  Since New Years, I have barely checked my emails once a week, I have hardly looked at social media, have done a lot of digging in the garden, had a glorious time with my husband, 1 and 2 year old girls, and spent many hours in the kitchen with my latest obsession- a Thermomix concocting every imaginable green smoothie.  I have also started making art again.  Hooray!

This last one came as a complete surprise and has confirmed for me how powerful it is to completely take time out, to really let yourself stop whatever cycle you are caught up in, and just have a break.  It is here that a feint whispering that has been quietly humming along can finally be heard in the induced silence.  I did have this experience not so long ago last year at the big-hearted business conference when I finally heard loud and clear the pull to start Creative Conversation, which has been just wonderful.  And through the work I have been doing for this business, I seemed to have re-awakened another souls-yearning: the making of art.

I had a brief stint before starting Manque Design to really explore my creativity and find out what it was that I was good at (note, that I did [...]