If you are feeling “stuck” in your creative business, know that you are not alone! Every business owner I’ve ever known has had periods of ‘stuckness’ and we’re coming off a period full of ups and downs. I’ve had plenty of my own hurdles these past 6 or 7 years but I’ve found a Three Step Framework has helped me get ‘unstuck’ every time.
I’ve found that my biggest breakthroughs have come about when I was boxed in by circumstances and had to find a way out to keep going. Sometimes it’s fun. Challenging myself and a group of Makers in early 2020 to create something new using only materials we had in our stash – no spending on new materials – lead to the Canvas Weaving Technique that really helped my art begin to stand on its own.
Other times those boxes force us to make really hard choices. Changes in overhead and a shift in our local economy last year meant that I had to completely restructure the workflow of my brick-and-mortar. The box I had to put myself in was a month without payroll expenses so that I could assess our needs and create a payroll schedule that was sustainable. I really had to swallow my pride on that one and it hurt to make that decision. But it allowed me to get ‘unstuck’ and make changes that ultimately allows me to stay in business for years to come.
Giving yourself hard limits creates a problem to solve and forces your brain to process potential solutions. There are no limits to creativity, and artists who have unlocked that truth often find themselves overwhelmed with the possibilities. If your brain can’t process all the options, sometimes it simply delays making a decision. This results in a kind of creative paralysis where we can’t even get started.
The same applies when you’re facing financial or logistical roadblocks. Sometimes that big idea comes with a small pocketbook and you have to get creative in order to get started or continue with a project. Sometimes line items on a budget change and you have to reevaluate in order to continue. The process to get ‘unstuck’ is the same though.
Step One to Get Unstuck: Identify the Box
There is no limit to how big your dreams can be, but we always have to start where we are. The first step to getting ‘unstuck’ is identifying the box you’re working with. What are the hard limits you are facing? Spending limits, time constraints, limited supplies, and materials? Whatever area you’re struggling with, define your current limits.
Step Two: Take Inventory
Once you’ve acknowledged the parameters you’re working with, establish the resources available to you. If you’re working on a creative project this means taking a look at your supplies & skill set. If you’re working to increase your cash flow this means taking a literal inventory of products you have on hand to sell and/or materials you can use if you’re trying to generate income.
If you work with a group, evaluate the skills and availability of your team members to reorganize and create more efficient procedures to save money on payroll or create new streams of revenue. Being stuck in an overwhelmed schedule might mean taking a hard look at your calendar to identify what has to be done and what can be cut or reassigned.
Step Three: Paint a Picture of Your Goal
Finally, you have to lay out exactly what success means in your situation. What will your breakthrough look like? Is it developing a new product or artistic style? Meeting a certain sales goal to get you caught up on bills? Maybe it’s finding a schedule that leaves you 30 minutes a day to be creative without interruption.
Thinking through these three steps will help you lay out a plan to get through whatever roadblock I’m facing. As long as you remember to start with your current capacity and resources you can problem-solve your way out of the box and break through to the next step in your business. Maybe it’s a new product line or style. Maybe it’s a new stream of revenue that frees you up to hire help. Maybe it’s reallocating your time so that you can create space to rest and recharge.
If you’re feeling stuck I hope this helps you find the perspective to find your way out of the box and breakthrough into the next phase of your business!
Looking for some strategy and accountability in your creative business? Head over to my website to learn about the MILL Membership and see if it’s the right fit for you!
Danielle Kaminski is a multi-passionate artist from Duncan, SC. She has been crafting and creating since she was in grade school, learning to sew with her grandmothers. Her brick-and-mortar store, Reinvintage Warehouse, is home to more than 60 different artists and curators. The MADE by Danielle brand encompasses jewelry design, candle making, and canvas & fiber art as well as the occasional furniture makeover! View Danielle’s Full Bio