I was asked by The Crafts Council earlier this week to deliver a talk to designer makers looking to scale their businesses by working with manufacturers to make their products.
The participants, all of whom were women, were either small-scale designer/ makers aiming to grow their production or installation artists (sculptures for example) looking for ways to commercialise their product.
I covered things like the importance of finding a manufacturer with matching values to your own, how much money you might need to make your products in a factory and where to find the money to do so, how to best communicate your design ideas to a manufacturer, how much time you need to invest in planning and finally, where to begin with the whole process…
And while this information is useful, the real burning question for small businesses I find is not how to do it, but having the courage to do it.
Being brave takes practice
Whether it’s getting up and talking in front of people about your business, investing what seems like a lot of money in to something that’s risky or having the confidence to choose a path that means you cannot go down another… for the time being, you have to practice being brave.
It’s often a chicken and egg situation – you need the money to grow but you need to grow to get the money and if you borrow the money, how can you be sure that you’ll grow?
You can know your product, your market and your customers as well as you like, but you will always, at some point, need to take a leap of faith.
A leap of faith, in yourself.
I find myself doing things today, without thinking, that would have daunted me a year ago and decisions that make me nervous now, will become part of my everyday in a year.
Starting and growing a creative business requires you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, and pushing your limits is when the most exciting things happen and you discover what you’re capable of.
If I’m faced with a challenge that frightens me, and I question my ability or lose belief I myself, I try to ask myself why. What is it that I believe about myself that makes me think I cannot do it? And more often than not, I will find evidence to the contrary – and so will you.
About six months ago, on the advice of a friend, I made a red flag and it sits on my desk, clearly visible, every day. And when that self-doubt silently creeps up and takes hold, I glance at it to remind myself that I have navigated all the obstacles so far and emerged more knowledgeable and most importantly, still excited to move forward. So there’s no reason to think the next challenge will play out any differently.
While thinking about this month’s post, a TED Talk popped up on my twitter feed which seemed well timed and certainly worth sharing: Teach girls bravery, not perfection.
Until next month,
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