All posts tagged growing the business

Video: Creative Freelancer Conference Breakfast Roundtable – Growing Your Team, When is the Time?

Over the weekend, I attended the Creative Freelancer Conference (CFC) along with another 149 designers, copywriters, photographers, illustrators and creative entrepreneurs. The energy was great and I got to see all the friends I made last year. It was two days of sessions about client management, creativity and small business finances. In so many words, it was a good kick in the butt and a great check up to see how I’m doing.

I also had a wonderful opportunity to lead a breakfast round table on the second day of the conference. It was loosely named, Growing your team: when is the right time to start collaborating with others? I covered the subject matter in a previous post, When Did Your Super Woman or Super Man Costume Get Too Tight? The core issue we covered was trying to understand when it’s best partner up with others in order to free up your time as a solo creative. We told horror stories and I had the participants complete a worksheet to determine what their best skills and their sucky skills are.

Creative Freelancer 2010 – Breakfast Roundtable – When to Start Growing & Collaborating w/Others from Tricia Okin on Vimeo.

On the worksheet we calculated how much it was costing them to keep trying to monopolize the part of the project with their sucky skills instead of just partnering up with someone who does it better than them. It was eye opening to say the least. All of participants found their regular rates dropped in half when they insisted on doing a task that with a mediocre skill level.

At the bottom of the work sheet, I asked the question, “What would you rather be doing instead of suffering?”. The time saved by collaborating with others can easily be put towards looking for more clients, learning the skills you actually do need, working on art or spending time with family. Download the worksheet and try working through it to see how much time and money you could be saving by collaborating with others.

Download the PDF
Download the Word .doc

What are your numbers? What would you rather be doing?

Thanks so much to Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor & Heather Griffin of F+W Media/How Magazine for offering the opportunity for me to facilitate this discussion. And double thanks to the participants in the round table:

Jenn de la Fuente, Rosebud Designs
Maureen Uy, Uy Creative
Matt Rhodes, Fox Fire Creative
Joshua Veteto, Type Cycle
Kim Green, KG Cre8tive
Laurie Shields, Laurie Shields Design
Sabine Lenz, Paper Specs

When Did Your Super Woman or Super Man Costume Get Too Tight?

As a solo creative entrepreneur who relaunched her business in February 2009, I’ve been through many phases of  productivity and growing.  First, I started as an onsite contractor with one company while simultaneously being an offsite art director consultant to another. In both cases, I was working with a team the companies had established or were spontaneously putting together. I had a specific role to play, mostly art direction but also some front end development in some cases.

Superman UndiesAlong the way, I took on projects for individual clients where I was the chief cook and bottle washer who handled every aspect of project. This ranged from branding, identity, design and to coding. At the same time, I wanted to push myself and start learning more CSS & about WordPress. Pushing myself is why I quit my job right? Instead of having my skills stagnate, being a solo entrepreneur would force me to keep learning to widen my breadth of talents and skills.

Well, a couple of months ago, I hit a very hard and shameful wall. It’s called the “You Don’t Know Everything & You’re Wasting Time Trying to Do Everything Wall”. I think it also had spikes embedded in it because I have still have the scars to prove it. I honestly came to the point where I had to admit that one or more of the following occurred (particularly in reference to coding):

+ There was *too* much diversity in my skill set and wasn’t able to focus on just one aspect
+ I was learning but not necessarily fast enough to meet client expectations
+ I was just too dang busy with both running a business and with schoolwork

I finally admitted that there were people I knew who could do this a lot faster than me for a good amount of money and I would still be able to keep client satisfaction. From there I brought in Jenn de la Fuente, WordPress Ninja, to help me finish implementing a key WordPress eCommerce plugin and finish the project on time. She kicked the plugin’s ass and was dedicated to help it all get done and fast. I highly recommend her knowledge and skills. Seriously, go throw money and design ideas at Jenn, you won’t be sorry.

To say the least, it was one of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve had in the last year.  My Super Woman costume got way too snug and I was able to give it some more breathing room.  This weekend at the Creative Freelancer Conference in Denver, I’ll be hosting a breakfast round table about just this subject.

When did you begin to feel that being a jack of all trades (and subsequent master of nothing) was not worth the stress and effort?

When did you decide that collaboration was more efficient for both time and money than trying to do it all yourself?

I’m thinking of some ice breaker questions to use during the 50 minute session and any stories, questions or suggestion you have will be greatly appreciated. I’m planning to use my new Flip Video camera (!!) to record the session and will post it by the end of next week for anyone who wants to recap or was not able to attend.

Cheers all and thanks again for reading…