03 February 2011

Lose the Crutch of Control

PHOTOGRAPHER: Buaiansayapanomali, Alone
If I asked you to recall a major accomplishment in your life, you would not only remember the effort it took, the commitment involved, or your unwavering tenacity, but also the support you were given along the way. At times, it is the latter point — other people's support — that some creative business types shy away from. To those for whom this applies, my advice to you is to lose the control.

When I help clients create marketing plans, I also discuss some practical strategies for developing partnerships, utilizing volunteers and finding ways to network within the community they're already a part of. From experience, I've found that it's essential to have some of these systems in place, and I get concerned when some immediately close themselves off to any of those options.

I'm not a psychologist, but it's clear that part of that problem will resolve itself soon after one has bypassed the early stages of business development. A strong foundation and firm sense of direction can reinforce confidence that may have gotten shaken while trying to figure out how to go forward with a great idea. But, if one can't handle the suggestion of some of these support systems after this stage, then the other side of this problem is stuck in control issues that have been self-imposed.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to change from being a solo venture or to suddenly get staff. What I am saying is that you've got to get out of the mindset that you have to do absolutely everything by yourself. It will cause you unnecessary stress and, generally speaking, will be bad for your project.

Is This You?

PHOTOGRAPHER: Mina Momeni, You Are Not Alone
#1. You can't begin to imagine delegating:
If you do have one or two volunteers (which could be well-meaning friends or relatives), do you have a problem accepting the help they're offering? Besides setting yourself up to be a long-suffering martyr (or worse yet, develop into some reincarnation of a micro-manager), taking on more than you can handle will lead to you burning out. Keep in mind that no one can do all things with the same level of expertise, and it's useful to consider the many ways in which to set up a really simple volunteer, sponsor, or professional barter relationship. The assistance of a complementary business, professional organization, or one or two individuals can really enrich what you're doing. Supporters don't have to be on your payroll, but you should have some official working parameters that will make the situation a win-win for both of you.

#2. You have a hard time receiving valuable criticism or suggestions:
Think you always know best? Oy vey, that's just not a good scene. Of course not everyone's opinion is going to be worth the salt, but don't close yourself off from getting a few different perspectives from those you trust or who have the proof of experience on their side. We all know what it's like working on a piece of art before getting stuck — often we just need a fresh set of eyes to get us refocused. Well there are many business decisions that would do well with an objective perspective. If you have great people around you, but consistently have trouble handling concrete advice, then that's something you may want to look at and change before your advisors leave you in the dust.

#3. Administratively speaking, you are one hot mess:
Here's the thing, even though you may have concrete goals and desires for your business, if you don't have some of your basics in order, when opportunity presents itself, you won't be in a prime position to take advantage of it. What do I mean exactly? Well, if you desperately needed a publicist and happened upon a skilled volunteer, retired publicist, or up-and-coming promoter who is more than willing to take the task on, if your information is so scattered and ill-managed that it can't be shared or given in a timely manner, they may think you're not serious and will move on. When you fail to set yourself up, you miss out. Not convinced that this is an issue of control? Okay, then ask yourself this, "If I really need this person's support, why am I making it so difficult to provide her with the information that she needs?"

Definitely not exhaustive, but these are just a few examples of how control can become a crutch in the development of your creative biz. If you see yourself in one of these examples, remind yourself of the ways in which support was instrumental in your past achievements and try to replicate it. Make a list of the top three things you really need help with, consider the other upstarts, organizations or people in your circle who can either help you or recommend others who can, and use common sense with what comes.

When you remain open to the assistance of others, you will start to notice that there are opportunities being made available to you on a regular basis. And more importantly, you'll come to realize that you are surrounded by a strong community of qualified support — ready, willing and able.

Interested in exploring this topic more deeply for your creative or holistic business? Then read more about MorenaMedia's Creating Community: Partnerships, Sponsorship & Volunteer Development workshop. Or contact me with your other business-related questions.
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