Maintaining a "Success" Attitude in a Down Economy

Maintaining a "Success" Attitude in a Down Economy

By: Marcia Passos Duffyphoto

In this economic atmosphere of doom and gloom it is sometimes hard for solo-working artisans to stay optimistic. And, as if the onslaught of pessimistic news was not bad enough, the down economy may also be affecting your bottom line, which does not help your outlook.

Despite the dire straits we’re in, it is important to rise above the clamor and maintain an attitude of success and optimism. Why? Because the alternative may drag you – and your business down.
Here are some tips from artisans and business coaches on staying on the sunny side:

A Successful Attitude Starts with Being Realistic

While it is trendy today to "think positive thoughts” and believe that by sheer force of will you can stave off failure, a better approach is to look at your situation as realistically as you can, advises Molly Gordon, a master certified coach and facilitator with Authentic Promotion (http://www.authenticpromotion.com/).

Look at how the recession is affecting your business in terms of your bottom line. Talk to an accountant if you must.

"Fighting reality just makes you crazy…accepting it and taking action makes you resilient,” says Gordon.

James Goddard a motivational speaker and author of Freedom for a Day (http://www.freedomforaday.com/) says that looking at the reality of your situation, and realizing that a "down” market is actually a good time to test your mettle may make getting through it easier: "If you can make it through this time period you will excel with ease when we come out the other side,” says Goddard.

This is what Deb Babcock, owner of Blue Sky Pottery in Steamboat Springs, CO, (http://www.dbabcock.etsy.com/) is trying to do. She reminds herself that eventually the economy will pull out of the recession, and every bit of work she does now will pay off when the economy bounces back.

"If I maintain or even increase my presence in the various markets I want to be in…the buyers will remember me first when they are ready to start purchasing again,” Babcock says.

Avoid Desperate Measures

Bailey Earith, a professional fiber artist and owner of Bailey Fiber Art Studio in Knoxville, TN, (http://www.baileyfiberart.com/), says that even in a down economy it is important not appear desperate and maintain a balance in your life.

"Execute your marketing plan for the day, such as, contact five prospects, update your web site, etcetera, then walk away,” Earith says. Don’t panic; instead spend any downtime you have in activities that replenish you, she says.

Harriet Gryszkiewicz, business coach and owner of Mosaic Path,http://www.mosaicpath.com/suggests you use any downtime to your advantage: "Many people hunker down to work even harder, yet this might be your best opportunity to take some time for yourself. Use it to review how you practice your craft, and how you run your business,” says Gryszkiewicz.

Whatever you do, don’t spend any downtime mulling over other the success of other artisan’s businesses, or considering drastic measures such as price cuts, suggests Apryl Mott of New Orleans, LA, who creates wire tree sculptures (http://www.byapryl.com/). "Do what you do the best you can and charge what is fair,” Mott says.

Betsy Capes, founder and president of New York City-based Capes Coaching, Inc.,http://www.capesco.com/, a career planning center for actors, artists and creative professionals, says that it is important not to get scattershot in your business approach or deviate from your business plan in tough times.

"I can't tell you how many artists I have seen over my ten years in this business doing tons of random stuff and hoping that it gets them closer to what they want,” says Cape, saying that it is akin to throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping that something sticks. Focus, she says, and keep your eye on what you do best: "Every time I've seen unfocussed actions they only lead to frustration,” she says.

Get Networking, Online and Off

It’s easy to wallow in self pity when sales are down and customers are nowhere to be seen. One way to get out of these doldrums is to get a support system.

"Find people who reflect your values and accomplishments as an artist,” says Gordon. This is especially important when your work isn't selling. "Artists, like others, tend to equate economic success with artistic success. When the two don't match up we need another source of feedback about our work.”

Social media is a good place to start this kind of conversation with your peers if you don’t have a network in place in your city or town.

If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.

"I find the age bracket of 30 to 70 are not using (these social media) anywhere near the capacity they should,” says Goddard. The younger generation is claiming market share even in a down economy because of their social networking savvy.

Remember that this is not the time to go at it alone and fly solo. "This is the time to connect,” says Joni Daniels, a management consultant, speaker and author based in Baltimore, MD,http://www.jonidaniels.com/. "Even introverts need to get out and connect to others…many people really do want to help and support you.”

Refresh Your Business

Use any downtime you have to focus on creating success in your business. This could come in the form of:

* Refreshing your artist’s statement
* Putting our regular press releases about shows or new work
* Networking with representatives, licensing agencies, collectors
* Staying visible professionally through associations, trade groups, customers, and contractors
* Writing articles, teaching a class, or speaking to a group

To keep a "success” mindset, stay connected, stay on task, don’t panic, take time for yourself, and don’t make the mistake of blaming the downturn in business on yourself or your work as an artisan. And most importantly, keep in mind that no economic slump lasts forever.

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MARCIA PASSOS DUFFY (http://www.backporchpublishing.com/) is a freelance business writer based in New Hampshireand is a member of the state's artisan and business a organization, NH Made. Marcia's articles have appeared on Yahoo Finance, CNBC, Bankrate.com, NFIB.com, Smart Business Magazine, The New York Times Lifewire, The Weather Channel, among others; she is the author of the book, Be Your Own Boss. She also publishes two online magazines, Home Office Weekly.com (http://www.homeofficeweekly.com/) and The Heart of New England.com (http://www.theheartofnewengland.com/). Marcia wrote this feature article exclusively for the Association of Artisan Businesses (http://www.artisanbusinesses.org/), an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the artisan industry.