It’s very likely that the energy you put into your business will ebb and flow over time, especially if it has been set up for the very purpose of providing balance, security and flexibility to your life. Nothing compares to the heady start-up phase, where you fall dizzily in love with your new venture, and pour an unreasonable amount of passion and time into making your dreams a reality.
But what happens later on, when the honeymoon period is over and you find your personal circumstances have changed: perhaps a baby comes along, you suffer a divorce or illness, or find yourself relocating? Luckily, by nature small, creative businesses are relatively easy to scale up or down (I know, I did it when my second baby came along and I was juggling two under 2s whilst trying to cope with health complications that left me feeling drained).
When your situation shifts again, as it will, and you find yourself ready to breathe new life into your work, how do you do this?
I spoke with Maggie Mumford, a talented artist who specializes in creating bespoke tiles and ceramics that feature her appealing designs. Maggie is facing this challenge right now, and has kindly shared her thoughts with us.
Maggie, you are refocusing on your business following a break – can you tell me a bit about that?
My business was pretty well established after 7 years, then I took some time out to be with my daughter, which turned out to be longer than I expected I would need. I was happy to take on work that came my way during this time, but without any proactive marketing, this obviously declined, and has left me feeling that I need to build things up all over again.
So what do you feel are the biggest challenges you are facing now?
Getting my name out there again; people forget so quickly! Also, fitting everything in with reduced working hours; I can’t work the hours I did before, so I am going to have to brush up my time management considerably!
What can you do to address these challenges? Do you know how and where to get help?
I have just taken somebody on part time to help me with PR, so she has been contacting the home magazines to get editorial again. I am also starting to do some advertising.
My daughter can spend some time in school clubs and day camps during the holidays, but I am also trying to keep the balance of spending time with her too. A universal problem for working mothers I expect.
I try to have a clear structure to my day – first thing after drop off and dog walk I check my emails and Facebook and then go straight into the studio. I have to be really disciplined and get in there for Woman’s Hour or I lose valuable painting time. If I start looking at “new pins you may be interested in” I’m doomed.
Hopefully the advertising should not only attract new clients, but help you leverage editorial with those magazines too. And yes, I don’t think there is a solution to the working mum’s dilemma, so I try not to waste too much time searching for one! We all muddle through in the best way we can!
Have you set some goals for where would you like to be by the end of this year, and next year?
By the end of the year I would like to be somewhere near where I used to be with my workload but that may be a little ambitious. By the end of next year I definitely want that and more. I really miss juggling different projects and coming up with designs for bespoke clients, it feeds my creativity.
What are you most afraid of and is there anything you putting off doing?
I’m afraid that all of the above may not happen – I think I have lost a bit of confidence. I’m not putting off much – it’s all systems go!
Glad to hear you are feeling the fear and doing it anyway! Sounds like you are pretty fired up, which tells me this is the right time for you to be scaling things back up. What excites you most about the future of your business?
I’m excited about my new website – the designer was brilliant and I think he has done a great job. Also, I’m really enjoying the new designs that I have been working on. I have finally embraced Facebook and Pinterest and that has been a revelation, I’m surprised at how much I enjoy them. I’m happy and optimistic about the future and looking forward to “achieving” again and having a healthy bank balance.
Finally, what one small thing could you do today to make a difference to your business?
I could (will!) chase up the emails that I sent out last week and haven’t had replies for. Not much, but 1% everyday…
I think that’s more than 1%! Thank you so much for sharing your honest thoughts which I’m sure many readers will relate to and feel inspired by. I have no doubt that you will see things gather momentum quicker than you are expecting!
Visit Maggie’s Website and see her beautiful handmade tiles here: maggiemumford.com.