working smart

Running a small business when even big businesses are sinking fast can be tough. Much of the guidance in books and media are about running big businesses but what about micro-businesses or sole employment? Problems in bigger businesses get scaled up but for the smaller business, it can be about shaving off everything to streamline the work and go it! Here are some tips I have picked up from various small and micro creative practices and organisations-

1. Do not put all your eggs in one basket- diversify! That way when one source of income dries out, there is another way to earn money and keep afloat.
2.Keep looking for work, even when you have work. Think of work in terms of venn diagram. One of the circles is your current work while the other circles can be future work, so the overlapping area is where you look for work or develop a project.
3.Be patient- don’t give up on your dreams! It is easy to be discouraged when working small and everyone else is making it big but don’t give up. Candy crush saga which is now a billion dollar business took ten years to evolved from very humble origins.
4. Delegate- for a small business which is trying work, generate income, promote itself to get new work, everything can be overwhelming. So cut down on meetings, events, and delegate as much as you can. Trim away negative people from your life.
5. get a mentor- find someone who has done similar work to you and made a success of it, then request them to become your mentor. You’d be surprised to see how this will not only help you but the person mentoring you will also take it upon themselves to make sure you succeed. Copy the best. Get feedback from your mentor and other people you respect.
6. Focus on a simple idea to start- think of where you may want to be in two, five or ten years time and then work towards that.
7. Get a great and memorable name for your business- it must be intriguing or easy, so that people ask or remember you by it.

three secrets of a successful micro-business

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As a self employed creative, I have been reading business books on creativity and business for many years.  Through these years I became aware that I did not wish to create a business empire but do what I do efficiently and productively; that I did not mean to mass produce but only produce something that was well designed and beautifully made; and not be a mad bad crazy person that creatives are thought to be but live a balanced, joyful and creative life.  I am sure that many of you also wish to live like that- we are not all Warren Buffet, Richard Branson or Bill Gates or even Steve Jobs (notice all are men which I am not!)

Most of the advice I read or listened to was not about small or micro- businesses- but about how to mass produce, how to make huge profits and how to influence widely.  There was not much advice if you just want to live a simple, creative, healthy and joyful life- following your heart- and making enough money to achieve all this.  I wanted to distill all the stuff I had read and listened to, in to some essential aspects which could apply equally to any scale of business.  What could I distill out of all that I had read and give back to you?  I found that essentially it boils down to three lives we lead- the contributive life,  the balanced life and the joyful life.

1. The contributive life:  This term was coined by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a Japanese educator and philosopher.  He said that our life should be about contributing to the whole of which we are en essential and creative part.  So if you are doing work that contributes to society, that work will be naturally meaningful and productive.  As part of cause and effect, you will find that your needs are satisfied in the most amazing ways- I have had people helping me out on things without asking for money because I helped them before.

The contributive life is an anti-dote to the monetary life.

2. The balanced life:  Contrary to what many people think, Yoga is not a series of stretching exercises or a type of mediation.  Yoga is about the balanced life- where you r health matters as much as anybody else’s, where you eat and sleep in moderation and where your work and personal lives balance.  This is the middle way- not extremes and our task is to find a middle way every day.  Sometimes, it may mean we do more work, sometimes it means we take more rest- everyday is a day of finding a balance for our physical needs and creativity.

The balanced life is our everyday practice of living.

3. The joyful life: Finally, if your work or business does not give joy to you, is not contributive or balanced, then let go of it.  Find something that tugs at your heart strings, pulls you towards it and asks you play the music of life.  If you are not smiling and forgetting the time, than it is not a work that you love.  For seven years, I was doing teaching that I thought was a contributive work but it was not a balanced life I was leading nor was it making me happy.  I finally left it and now I find myself doing similar work but on my own terms.  I have set up a charity for this and use my lectures, teaching and work to improve the lives of others.  The joy I feel out of this, is immeasurable and priceless.

Find your joy, follow your heart!