Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: June 2012

What this is all about: 4 principles for Adventure + Exploration

This month, since the launch of Market Yourself (my first book!), has been amazing. I've met, both in person and online, a whole new community of crafty business owners. Since there are so many new people around, I wanted to say hello properly:
If you're new here, I want to welcome you and tell you a bit more about what's going on and what you can expect
If you're not new here, I want to THANK you! Last week marked my birthday, my site's 2 year anniversary, and the Starship's one year anniversary. Without you reading and replying, none of this would have happened.
Whether you're new here or have been reading for over 2 years, I just wanted to share what it is that we* do here. 
*When I say “we”, I mean you and me. Here at Adventure HQ, it's just me and the pup, so “we” always means you+ me, the community of makers. 
  1. I write, talk and teach about discovering the wonders in your business. I'm not interested in finding the “right” way – only the way that's right for you, your goals and your people. Your biz, no matter how new or old, is an entire world, filled with a culture, a people (your buyers), and adventures. Although there are some business basics that we all use, you get to use it in your own way, to buildyour own kind of business, exactly as you want it. Exploring your business means doing experiments to see what will work (and what won't). There aren't easy answers, only exciting adventures.
  2. One-size-fits-all doesn't fit anyone.  The business you want is different from the business I want. And that means that we each have to find our own way.
  3. Finding your own way can be lonely, so we do it together. I share my stories here, and I try to turn them into helpful lessons to email you. You can share your stories on Facebook or (more privately) in the Starship.
  4. Comparison sucks. Compassion (especially for yourself) rules. Looking at what someone else has and trying to recreate it only leads to unhappiness, and it blocks you from seeing the amazingness that you really want, and the biz you can build. This is a hard thing to remember, so we talk about what that feels like, a lot.
If you're nodding along to all this, then yayYou're in the right place!
You can get mini-courses on exploring your business and invitations to tools and spaces to aid you in your explorations right here.
The best, most helpful tool/space I've created (and where I spend all my time!) is the Starship, and it closes tomorrow.*
If it is for you, be sure to sign up before it closes tomorrow.
If the Starship's not for you, check out the other tools and spaces for adventurerers (some of them free!)
*The Starship only opens once a month, so I can take the time to welcome everyone in one by one, and get them oriented before the next class begins. 
Oh, and one last thing: I answer any and all questions, so feel free to ask
Until next time, I'd love to hear what kind of business you're creating. What do you want to experience? What do you want to explore?

The secret sauce to success

Yesterday was my birthday, which is also the birthday of this little site. 2 years ago I started a non-yarn site in order to talk about businessy stuff with other craftybiz smarties (without annoying my delightful yarn customers). 1 year ago I opened the Starship.

I could go on (and on) about how happy I am on these anniversaries. About all the ways it changed my life ( my first published book!) But I think that's less interesting (to you) than telling the truth under all those amazing life-changing opportunities.

The truth is: I had no idea.

I still don't.
There's a famous-ish quote by William Goldman (author of the Pricess Bride!) about the movie business, “No one knows anything.”
The same is true about business and ideas.

Yes, there are business basics (like, the 4 Ps of marketing), but no one knows anything about what specifically will work for your specific business. If an idea is a good idea. If a product is one your people will embrace (or not).

For example, when people started asking to work one-on-one I offered an hour on the phone or chat. People did love it, but I didn't. I had so much to say, more than could fit in an hour.
I thought the appeal of the Starship would be the over $600 worth of classes. Instead, it's the weekly check-ins (which didn't even exist in my original plan).

I could go on (and on) about ideas I had that haven't worked. Either people didn't want them or I didn't like them or they just didn't work like I imagined. But you get the idea.

Things change.
I learn.
I experiment.
I'm wrong.
Again and again.
Nearly monthly I have some new epiphany about what would work better, about what I would love more, about what my people would love more.
And the same will be true for you.
You keep going.
You keep iterating and ideating and trying stuff.
You keep experimenting.

Like I said on my 1 year anniversary of self-employment, the secret to success is that you just keep going.

After 30 years of living, 6 years of business-owning, 3 years of self-employment, 2 years of working with other crafty businesses and 1 year of captaining a Starship I can tell you one thing for sure:
You don't know anything.
So just keep going.
And experimenting.

During my experiments I've learned what actually works with crafty businesses. What I actually want to write about, talk about and think about. I've found the place where those two things (what your business needs and what I'm good at doing) overlap, meet up and join. Things are always changing, but on my anniversary I thought it would be helpful to look at the ways I currently work:

  • This blog is always free and nearly weekly updated with ideas and experiments for your own crafty biz.
  • The free mini-course on Becoming an Explorer also comes with occaisional email updates on what's happening (live events, discounts, etc).
  • Market Yourself  is a systematic process to creating a sucessful marketing plan for your creative business. The secret ingrediant- you discover and experiment with what works for you. There are no simple answers, but there are lots of beloved worksheets.
  • The Map-Making Guide helps you find your own path towards your own goals. It makes getting where you want to go simple, stress-less and visual. People are kind of obsessed with it and we make new maps every 6 months or so on the Starship.
  • The Starship is magical. It's a private community filled with craftybiz smarties who are all exploring their own business and maps, together. We come together for gentle accountability on a weekly basis, and you can ask your 3 am questions anytime, and get stunningly smart answers from others (and me). I'm there, answering questions, brainstorming and having ideas for your business all week long. The Starship only opens once a month, so you have a chance to settle in and get orientated before the monthly class.
  • I limit myself to only one Exploration a month because they are…intense. And awesome. We get super clear on who's buying what you sell, we discover the language they use (then create a translation guide so you never forget to speak their language), and we usually come up with some product ideas you never even considered. It's like bringing in a VP of Marketing (me!) for 2 days to do a total strategy clarification. The results are staggering with the right people and I'm ruthless about only working with the people who will benefit.
  • I also serve as First Officer for several bigger businesses (they call me a Community Builder, Communications Concierge and all kinds of other titles that mean: day-to-day social media strategist or copywriter), which gives me insight onto what works for different kinds of businesses so I can experiment with applying it to tiny crafty businesses.

That's a lot, but I'm not even close to the end of my ideas. Over the next year I'm going to experiment with even more explorations and adventures for tiny crafty businesses (that's where my heart remains!), that take our love for hand-making and apply it to business (what would your marketing plan look like if you painted it? Or knit it?) and I can't wait to share it with you.

Thank you for being here this year.

Thank you for your comments and your questions, your tweets and your emails.

And please, please, just keep going.