Prioritize Your Creativity

Hello my fellow creators and faithful readers,

I have a confession to make. I have not been prioritizing my creativity. We’ve talked about how there is a growing creativity gap in our society. And in my last post, I explained why we are in a new age of creativity that we need to take advantage of and embrace as creative entrepreneurs.

There’s just one problem – I haven’t been taking my own advice.

Unleashed Creativity by John JunsonThrough this blog and my book, I’ve spent two years talking the talk. But now it’s time that I start focusing more on walking the walk. This new age of creativity is as much mine as it is yours, and I’m not going to let it pass me by. So as we approach the New Year and resolution time, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on this past year and where I’ve been spending my creative energy. And the truth is, I haven’t really given it a chance to take center stage and really shine.

And I strongly recommend you do the same!

Now is the perfect time. We are entering the insanity of the holiday season, and that means our schedules are bombarded with family gatherings and festive events. But at the same time, this is also a time to take a break from work, to reflect and relax, and be surrounded by loved ones. And above all, it’s a time to give our left-sided brains a much-needed break from the daily grind of the year past. So now is also the perfect time to take a step back, refocus and prioritize your creative mind.

Let your creativity out!

For myself, this will involve taking a break from the weekly task of blogging, and explore whether this is the best outlet for my creativity and impact on the world. That does mean you won’t have much to read from me here for a little while. But then I’m sure you’ll have plenty else to keep you busy this holiday season – so hopefully you won’t miss me too much! 🙂

For you, I hope this involves taking time from your own nitty gritty work routine to explore where your creativity best thrives, and where you find the greatest reward. So take a break, take pause and really listen to your creative voice – take a walk, let yourself daydream, doing a brain-dump writing exercise, put on your favorite music and dance around your room – whatever it takes to tap into the purest form of your creativity and its truest desires. You may be surprised with what you find and how much that hasn’t been reflected in what you’ve been spending most of your time and energy on this past year.

So go on, get in the holiday spirit this chilly season and light up a warming fire inside your own creative heart. Prioritize your time on some serious soul searching, and I promise you will come away a stronger and more focused creative entrepreneur – ready to take on the New Year with extra creative gusto!

Happy Holidays!

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Now Is The Age of Creative Business

The most successful people in the world are the ones that have a talent for creative problem solving. The ability to design products and campaigns that fit the marketplace is a hallmark of a good businessperson. So why are we facing such a huge creativity crisis in our economy? Why are we losing the global competition to stay ahead of the creative curve?

Keeping Creativity Alive

It’s a problem founded on many levels. From our childhood, we see how the creative arts are the first subjects to get cut when school funding falls short. (Which begs the question, how are we letting funding for our children’s education fall short at all?) It’s just baffling to me how little creative training is viewed as valuable in shaping the minds of our future leaders. Don’t they get how valuable it is to exercise the creative right side of a growing brain as much as the left? Creative thinking and an ability to innovate are essential skills for any profession in any field. I’ve been saying it and I will keep saying it until I’m blue in the face.

But that doesn’t seem to be enough. So why don’t we start putting our money where our mouths are? I’m talking about taking the economy back into our very capable, creative hands and proving our worth as creative business people – or as we’re becoming known, as “creative entrepreneurs”.

Be a Creative EntrepreneurI like this term, creative entrepreneur. And it’s not becoming a household phrase for no reason. These very creative entrepreneurs and freelancers are taking over the workforce in surprising numbers. A study recently released by Intuit revealed that by 2020, more than 40% of the American workforce (or 60 million people) will be freelancers, contractors and temp workers. So it’s true – entrepreneurs and the self-employed are on the rise. That includes you and me, and that means that our time is now.

And let me tell you, the time is ripe for our creative offerings.

Global trade in creative products more than doubled from 2002 to 2011, at an average annual growth rate of 8.8%. In 2012, that global creative trade totaled $625 billion (source). And we’re not the only ones with their eye on the creative prize. The emerging economic giant of China invested $157 million of their government spend in culture and media in 2012. Clearly, this is a market with immense opportunity – enough for everyone to have a piece, and certainly enough to start proving the economic value of the creative arts and creative products.

But what do I mean by creative products? Well let’s look at the specific industries. In 2008, a select set of our more creative industries – including broadcasting, telecommunications, motion pictures, sound recording, performing arts, printing & publishing – generated $45 billion in export sales. This was more than total sales generated from the computer systems design, electrical equipment, air transportation, financial services, and American agriculture industries (source). So you can see how the economy is already shifting.

It’s a new age of technology and innovation, and that makes this the ideal time for you to join the creative crusade and make your mark as a creative entrepreneur.

Now is your time! Let your creativity shine! Subscribe to my email list, buy my book, and arm yourself with more tips and tactics on how to get your creative business built and thriving. Let’s turn this tide and show the world what we creators and innovators can do.

Happy creating!

Get Ahn With It! And Action!

I like to say that I’m action-oriented. I have a bias for action. I realize there’s a joke in there somewhere about how I also make action films.

But in every aspect of my life, this is a mantra I’ve always strived to embody. I’ve always been a get-shit-done kinda girl. I don’t waste time. Life’s too short. No reason to dilly dally or beat around the bush. I’m like Nike – I just do it.

Or, as I’ve been saying more often, I just get “Ahn” with it.

Get it? Coz “Ahn” is my last name! Haha, I’m so clever!

That’s why I’ve decided to give this and my life’s work a dose of re-branding, with a more catchy (and admittedly cheesy) name. Because everything I do, and everything I help other people do, is about getting on with it – on with the show, or the project, or whatever it is you’ve been dancing around, over-brainstorming, thinking too much about and not putting into productive action.

Ever since I made my own daring career shift 2 and a half years ago, leaving the cushy corporate world for the uncertainty of the arts and entrepreneurship, I’ve continued to learn that bold steps can be rewarded boldly. I’ve learned that sometimes the best therapy is just having the courage to put your shit out there, and share all that crap bottled up inside of you with people who care. And I’ve experienced (sometimes the hard way) how unhealthy it can be to keep it locked up inside, doing nothing but stewing and simmering dangerously.

You’ve got to get it out of you, out there in front of other people, and let them make up their own minds about it – it’s the only way to give it the chance it deserves to stand on its own feet and make a difference. This is true for relationships and personal health, but it’s also true for projects and businesses too.

Tina Fey wants you to take action!

It takes action to make any kind of progress. Every film, video, play, event or book I’ve produced has taught me that. Sharing with you all has taught me that. Living my life the way I have, and the way I intend to keep living, has taught me that. It’s made me a stronger and more reliable partner to work with. And I’ve found that I’m simply just stronger and happier when I’m being productive.

So it’s a win-win. What have you got to lose?

You’re more likely to regret the things you didn’t do, than those you tried and did poorly. Because even if you fail or make mistakes, you can learn from them, and improve because of them. But you’ll never know that growth if you never take the chance, and try something scary and new. And what is the point of living if you can’t keep growing and learning? What good is a life without challenge and adventure?

So what are you waiting for? The right moment? Having all the answers? A sense that it’s all going to work out beautifully? Because chances are it won’t, and that’s a good thing – otherwise it wouldn’t be worth tackling. No one ever made history, or changed the world, or found great success and fulfillment by playing it safe. (And if they did, they are definitely the exception and not the rule.)

As Paulo Coelho, one of my favorite authors, once said:

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

So quit monkeying around, and just get on with it already. Buy my book, subscribe to my blog, and let me help you start putting your ideas into action. Comment below and tell me what you need to get started, what’s holding you back, or where you could use an extra push. I’d love to hear from you and learn how you think we can help each other power forward and get some more action.

So lights, camera, and “Ahn” with the show!

The Journey Continues – Putting Your Plan into Action

Alright, now I’ve talked a lot about how vitally important it is to have a business plan, or some version of a plan for the actualization of your business, before you can build a truly Productive, fulfilling, and successful business around your art. And that’s true. The first step is to build the Plan, and figure out your answers to those signature Seven Questions that make up the essential components of a complete and functional business model.

But once you do that – and have your very own creative and comprehensive business plan – what do you do with it?

Well now it’s time to put that Plan into Action! Because after you plan, you have to act, or else nothing is achieved.

I could spend all of this blog talking about your plan, and how to write it, and what should go in it, blah blah blah. But even the most brilliant ideas are nothing, and will never become anything, without action – no matter how well planned out they are. You can write and rewrite, and plan and re-plan, all you want. But you have to be careful not to let yourself fall into analysis paralysis – or its equally evil twin and my personal favorite enemy – perfection paralysis. At some point, you have to stop and decide when the plan is good enough to implement.

So once you’ve gone through all the steps, and answered each of my signature Seven Questions, and put your whole business plan pages together – it’s time to define your Action Plan for how you are going to accomplish that plan. In fact, that’s precisely why the last and final Quest #7 of my signature business planning method is entitled, “How Will You Achieve It?”

The first thing you’ll want to do is select which program(s) or tool(s) you will want to use to help you set your tasks and track your progress. For my own personal and professional purposes, I mostly use a combination of Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive (Docs & Spreadsheets). I guess you could say I’m a bit of a Google baby. But then I’ve also seen other folks find great success with Asana, Evernote and Trello, among others. So I encourage you to find the tools that work the best for you and with you, especially any you’re already using or can easily integrate into your current work routine.

Make sure whatever system you do choose has the ability to describe the Action Item and assign the category, or department, or higher goals of your business that it pertains to. Use the SMART method to make sure every task you set is Specific, Measurable, Active, Realistic and Timed. Then be sure each Action Item has room to indicate its deadline, and any notes or status updates on your progress towards achieving it. You’ll want the tools you use to be really accessible and convenient to use, so you remember to check in with it regularly and keep your tasks top-of-mind. Try using something you can keep open on your desktop or browser throughout the workday, or lying on your physical desk in front of you – wherever will be the most obvious and eye-catching for all-day motivation. The key here is to lay out all of your business goals into an actionable and measurable roadmap of realistic milestones that will help you stay on track.

Then lastly, you’ll want to incorporate into your routine any other means of motivation and accountability you can, so you don’t let yourself falter in a moment of weakness or laziness and give up on your dream! This could be written reminders around your home or office, or alarms set on your phone, or a mantra you say to yourself before you go to bed each night (or wake up each morning). But don’t forget to reach beyond what you can create for yourself, and enlist the help of a strong support network. Join groups or communities in your field, attend local meet ups, and align with colleagues to help keep each other on track. Find your closest, most trusted friends and tell them your goals or share your To Do list. Make yourself socially accountable as well, and I promise it will only help you stay even more committed to your plan.

So how about it? Are you ready to put your Plan into Action?

If you’ve already been through my book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, and have your complete business plan – then comment below and tell me how you are going to implement your plan and turn it into reality! Or if you’ve already made it happen, then tell me what you did to achieve that and how you kept yourself motivated to take Action.

And if you haven’t yet built your own Productive Artist plan – then get yourself over to Amazon now and get your copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, and I will help you get to building! And remember to subscribe to my email list and YouTube Channel to join me on the journey to a more productively artistic you.

The Journey Begins with Quest #1: What Is It?

Enter you and your vision for a more Productive business around your art.

Your Productive Artist journey starts with the same first question that I always ask myself, “What Is It?” – which is why it became the first Quest in my signature business planning method, as detailed in my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan.

Your answer to this question will be your reason that you want to build your own business in the first place. So it makes sense that it should also be the foundation upon which to build your business plan. Before you can figure out the “how” to build your business, or the “who” to do that for, you need to be extremely clear on the “what” you even want to build and whether that is worth building.

In this Quest, you are asked to identify exactly what products and/or services (aka Offerings) your business will offer. You probably already know your answer to that, or at least what demand you want to fill in the marketplace and what customer needs you want to provide a solution for. For example, my new book The Productive Artist’s Business Plan is a product, a book, to help aspiring creative entrepreneurs of all artistic fields learn how to build the business they envision and sustain themselves as Artists. That’s my “What Is It?” What’s yours?

I designed this first step to help you identify and create the most valuable, competitive Offerings for the people you want to help, and the problems you want to provide a solution for. So you must take this step seriously and answer with conviction, because every Quest that follows in my business planning method will refer back to these Offerings and how you are going to realize your dream of getting them out into the world. This is really where the rubber meets the road – your first crucial step to paving the road ahead for your business and livelihood. How can you tell people about your Offerings, or decide how much you can charge for them, or make any kind of impact in your market and your business without first knowing what those Offerings are and whether those people will buy them?

As my favorite marketing expert and entrepreneur Marie Forleo says, “You’ve got to name it to claim it.” And that requires having clarity and confidence in what you want to put out there. If you want to build it, you’ve got to name it first. So consider this your wake up call, your jump start, your first stepping stone. Your moment of truth has arrived.

What do you want to build?

What product or service do you want to out out into the world to benefit and inspire others?

Please comment below and tell me – “What Is It?”

Then remember to subscribe to my email list and YouTube Channel to join me on the journey to a more productively artistic you. And don’t forget to get your copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, for a much more extensive, detailed guide through this and the rest of my signature Seven Questions for creative success!

Have You Created the Business You Want?

Well it’s been a week since the official launch of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan, on the Amazon Kindle store – and already the rave reviews are rolling in! I have to say, I am so incredibly moved and thrilled to hear how much people are enjoying the book, and finding it invaluable in their creative endeavors.

MFrenchie calls it “A “getting things done” how to for artists.”

Chris Cheng says it’s “A great framework that takes some best practices from the business world, and gives artists a leg up on how to be successful in their industry. ”

Nathan Hoskins adds, “I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to bone up on how to get things done and get them done right! ”

And bookfan even claims, “This is the book I wish I had when I was starting out. ”

So if you’re one of my glowing reviewers, then thank you from the bottom of my heart and I hope you keep that momentum going! You are on the road to a very exciting, more Productive and prosperous future as an Artist – so keep it up!

And if you haven’t read my book yet, what are you waiting for?

If you are an Artist, in any sense of the word – if you have a passion and drive to create something original and make a living from that – then you need to build a strong business foundation around that to give it (and yourself) the best chance for success. This book will help you do that, so get your copy today!

Then read it, use it, enjoy it – and write me a review on Amazon to tell me how it all went and whether it really helped you become a more Productive Artist.

I wrote this book for you, my people! And I want to write more and share more and keep pushing this forward. But there’s no point in my doing all of this unless it makes a difference for you.

So how about it? Have you created the business and life you want as a creative entrepreneur yet?

The Productive Artist's Business Plan

The Productive Artist’s Business Plan – now on Amazon!

Well folks, our 5 day free book promotion has run its course – so I hope you didn’t miss out on getting your free copy of my new book, The Productive Artist’s Business Plan.

But if you did, it’s not too late!

The book is still available on the Amazon Kindle store, and now for only $9.99! Now that’s not so much is it? For just under $10, you can learn how to create the business and life you want as a creative entrepreneur, and sustain yourself as an Artist. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal! So what are you waiting for?

The Productive Artist's Business Plan on AmazonIf you’ve got a great vision for your art, but no idea how to turn it into reality – or if you know you need a business plan, but aren’t sure how to start or wish you had a more creative option than the traditional templates out there – then you are (still) in luck!

No matter what kind of creative work you do, if you are driven to create something original and innovative, and want to make a living from that, then you are an Artist and this book is meant for you! I designed this book specifically for my fellow Artists and creative entrepreneurs just like you, who need a business planning method as unique as the art you create.

The key is not to tell you the right answers, but to ask you the right questions. This book will guide you through my simple, yet thorough, signature Seven Questions that you must answer to build a sustainable business around your art; one that is fulfilling for both you and your customers. Each “Quest” on your journey will translate into one piece of your business plan puzzle. I will help you outline your offerings, map your competitive landscape, craft your marketing, operational and financial plans, and design your action plan to bring it all to life. And when I’m finished with you, you’ll walk away with a comprehensive and creative plan to guide you on your next adventure building the business and life you want as a creative entrepreneur!

If you’ve already read and love my book, remember to subscribe to my email list and my YouTube channel, so you can continue to hear about the latest in my Productive pointers and products.