Monday, March 4, 2013

The Secret to Focusing on Your Business...Part 1

My husband, at about 20, focusing on his passion word of the year. I've talked about it several times this year in my blog here and on my Facebook page...always the joke of course....then someone took me seriously and thought I had actually mastered this enormous ability and asked me to speak to a group of like minded people. EEEK!

We are only three months into the new year, so I haven't exactly mastered it yet!...I am the poster child for adult ADD, but, I'm doing better. I have recognized a few places where I tend to get distracted over and over and I'm learning to make corrections.

My Story...
Let's go back to about 1999 or 2000...I discovered the Internet! As some of you know, I was a floorcloth designer and was at that time very focused and had made a name for myself on a national level. I was considered one of the modern pioneers responsible for bringing the craft back into popularity. My ten year old business was successful and I was busy, busy busy too with two young children and a work out of town husband. I look back now and wonder how the heck I did all that I did??

My work was included in this book

Included not only in the book but also as part of Lexington Furniture's Weekend Retreat Accessory Collection

Remember back then also, when the Internet was dial up and we had limited usage? That was probably a good thing and we just didn't realize how much!  When broadband and unlimited usage became available to us, I literally would sit for hours surfing the web...

The Internet opened up a whole new world for many of us. There was Ebay and online galleries and websites galore with information on any topic we needed to know about.  Blogs were the most wonderful things with their tutorials, beautiful photos, and peeks into the lives of other artists who appeared to both do and have it all! It was heaven...and that was before Facebook or Pinterest!!

One day I woke up and realized I had information overload. To make that even worse I had also bought  and read every book I found on marketing online and how to work social networks....more information...and more to do!

By 2009, I had gotten so distracted that I lost all of my direction in my personal life and career..Over the last ten years I had joined  multiple online galleries, had seller accounts on both Ebay and Etsy, created websites and started blogs all of which took hours and hours of my time each day. I was juried into a very prestigious western art show, The Western Design Conference, and traveled to Wyoming three times in as many years. Locally, I rented booth spaces, exhibited my work in local art shows, joined art guilds, opened and closed an art gallery, taught children's art classes and ran summer art camps. I painted not only floorcloths, but furniture, pet portraits, house portraits, murals, Dr. Scholls's sandals, cowboy hats and even one of those Pigs in the City for Uptown Lexington.

I began to grieve the life I wasted while I was busy veering off my own path and down too many rabbit trails! It was nothing like I had planned and dreamed about. I didn't like my life!...because it wasn't my life.

In 2008, a friend and I took a day off and went to the NC Arts Incubator in Siler City for more "inspiration". On our way home our last stop was at sweet little primitive shop that I'd always wanted to visit. I was very inspired. The shop was quaint. It was located on the potter's farm and most of all, I could see that she was focused on what she was doing. I didn't want to leave and I found myself going back often. It felt good there. 

After almost a year of thinking about it and talking my husband into "just one more thing"...we decided to open our own shop. I would open a handmade and vintage shop at our home in my studio...but this time I would have to focus on  just this one thing. I had to or I was going to be single at 50 years old. It took another year to get the building ready and get the inventory moved in. Our grand opening was in November 2010.

My studio before it was Ranch Dressing

Focusing does not come easy for creative people!

A year after opening my shop I got distracted again by "designer antique booths" was right down my alley and I justified it by saying that it was good advertising. It would lead customers to my shop. In reality though, if my booths looked good my shop would be lacking and vise versa. I couldn't do it. I was once again spreading myself too thin but because I knew other women who did both a shop and booths. I felt like I should be able to pull it off and this was just part of "the business".

I have had five booths in three antique malls since opening my shop in 2010...I closed my last one the end of January 2013. I have everything under one roof and can say I am truly happy about it.

One of my booths at the Depot at Gibson Mill
Beginning in 2012, instead of a new year resolution I began to have a word of the year. That year it was balance....and this year, focus. Thank goodness I chose balance first! In order to focus you have to have balance in your life. I think this is the secret...having balance makes it easier to focus.

It takes time to transition from being too busy to being balanced but, it's definitely doable. You will figure it out! Start where you are spending too much won't always be where you are wasting time...just where you are over spending. You may not want to stop working in time to make dinner for your family. Our work is fun and we get carried away...but that's not balanced if we are neglecting our family. Like me you may be trying out every good idea you see, thinking you can do it just as well or even better by the time you put your spin on it...then you go off down that rabbit trail and leave what you were just getting good at to try something new.

There is nothing at all wrong with trying something new and wonderful that you've found on Pinterest or saw in a shop somewhere, but how about just doing it for yourself or for a gift for someone...or maybe better yet, how about supporting the artist you got the idea from...what a novel idea! We can be a little good at lots of things or really really good at what we are naturally gifted, so hard for us artsy people!

Once you find your balance, your focus will come together easier. You will understand your limits and that having limits are not bad...just like limited Internet or phone plans...not all that bad!

Ranch Dressing Feb. 2013

Tonight I will give my talk to our new guild/support group serving the artisan and vintage/antique industry in our area... come back here tomorrow for part 2 for my 10 suggestions for staying on track in your business.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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