How to Keep Your Mojo After How Design Live

Designers Roundtable imageChances are you’re running your own solo creative business and are either stationed at your kitchen table, maybe inside that extra bedroom, or maybe you’re the dreaded “cellar dweller.”

You’re lucky if you get a moment to refill your coffee or let the dog out, and a really good day is when you get a load of laundry done without running the washer twice because you were so engrossed in your work you forgot all about it.

Maybe you’re a parent who works during school hours (5-6 hours a day), puts on your caregiver hat after school until bedtime, and then hits the office again to fill your breadwinner job role. Not to mention pay house bills, feed the dog (and the kids), or even just get fresh air and step outside. Who has time for networking with other designers, let alone prospecting for new clients?

Sure, we get to wear fuzzy slippers and pajamas until 2 p.m., drink coffee made the way we like it, and the opportunity to design the way we want (well, to meet our clients’ demands).

Maybe the next couple of years are pretty smooth running our solo businesses. You build a client base that brings you work that helps pay your bills. You feel pretty good that you’re making it on your own—all by yourself with awesome client referrals.

All … by … yourself.

If you’re the type of person who needs interaction (besides with your clients and vendors), then you probably look forward to conferences, meet-ups, camps, etc. But what about people you can turn to who understand your business (the creative business), that you can reach out to when you have a bad day with the worst client of your life? Who helps you figure out and define what growth looks like for you and your business?

The day you decide to head to the HOW Design Live conference, your momentum to grow immediately sparks. You go, you love the topics, you feel energized, and come home full of ideas on how to grow your business. You make great connections and new friends that you have intense conversations with, and you leave feeling empowered, supported, and a part of a group of people that really “get it.”

Chances are, you returned home with a bit an anxiety, a whole lot of excitement, a notebook of ideas to implement, great books to read, a stack of business cards to follow up with, and an intense amount of work to catch up on.

Work to catch up on. Work. Work consumes us and maybe all those great ideas and inspiration start to fade, the momentum slows down because all we can focus on is getting the work done and the invoices out. Keeping the clients happy. But what about all those great ideas we had? What about all those business cards? What about the great idea you had for your new website? Or the path you were so close to defining for your growth strategy?

What happened?

These all happened to me in 2012 after my first HOW conference, and the first year I decided to get a grip on my business and grow it. I was so frustrated that I had lost my post-conference mojo to “grow my business” that I reached out and asked for help. Asked for other creatives who were feeling the same way, and immediately the DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE was born.

After two years of intense creative and business conversations, team members are now confident in their business and growth is happening. The DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE is a national accountability group exclusively for solo creatives who need support when it comes to their business. Our group helps hold you accountable for the tasks you promised yourself you would do each month to grow your business.

What does accountability mean, look like and feel like?

It’s amazing how much self-respect is affected when you tell your peers you failed at fulfilling a promise you made to yourself.

Consider weight loss. If you don’t tell anyone you are trying to lose weight, what is to hold you to your personal commitment? It’s easier to quit when no one knows your promise.

Being a part of a group (or even having a partner) helps keep you to your word that you will accomplish your tasks by a certain time. For us creatives that might be something like getting your newsletter out, making calls to past clients, or maybe building a business plan, writing vision/mission statements, setting financial goals, or updating your website. Think of it as your business self-care time that we all seem to neglect more often then we care to admit.

On top of checking off items on your to do list, think of all the time you spend searching for creative business answers like “how to fire a client” or “how to manage creative projects.” There are a ton of resources out there, but do you have time to scour all of them to maybe find your answer? Participating in an accountability group also means being able to spread the research load by finding and sharing answers faster with your fellow team members. Members who are just like you researching the same topics, having the same demands we put on ourselves as business owners as well as the demands from our clients and managing our households and personal life. Not to mention the demands of getting invoices paid and consistently delivering stellar quality work.

Participating and committing to hold yourself accountable, whether as a partner or as part of a group, has an intense amount of value because of the intimacy and transparency of the group and conversations but also because you wont get lost in forums or a newsfeed. It’s real-time collaboration with immediate responses of cheering and celebrating your successes or relating and comforting through your challenges.

It’s been an amazing journey to see the teammates of the DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE grow together the past two years and attribute their successes to confidence, sharing resources, sending and receiving referrals, collaborating, and having the courage to take risks that will benefit their business. Team members attributed 15-80% growth in their business just by participating and committing to this group.

I invite you to find your own accountability partner. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about the intimate group of the DESIGNERS ROUNDTABLE, please visit www.designers-roundtable.com or email info@designers-roundtable.com. We would be happy to hear from you and see if our group is a fit for you.

See you in Boston!

P.S. Check out the “explainer” video Jenny made about her 2nd experience at HOW/CFC 2013.

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