Artisan Blog

Are You an Entrepreneur? Yes, You Are!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Are You an Entrepreneur? Yes, You Are!



No matter what industry or field you work in, whether you work for a multinational corporation, a mom-and-pop storefront or in your home office, you are an entrepreneur. Congratulations!

Today’s workforce will have a completely different career experience from their parents and grandparents. Gone are the days of getting an entry-level job out of college, moving up, and retiring, all in the same company. Also gone are the days of having one career your entire working life, even if you change employers.

Today’s workforce is will change jobs every 3-5 years. Today’s workforce will have between three and seven entirely different careers. Whether you work for yourself or for others, if you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, you will succeed at life as well as work.

Entrepreneurs start new ventures despite the risks. Are you an Entrepreneur?

I work in an office. How am I an Entrepreneur?

You are a person with skills, providing a product. You take risks by spending your time on someone else’s projects in the hope that they will give you more business and eventually give you the opportunity to start something new. You are an entrepreneur.

I work in retail. How am I an Entrepreneur?

Working in a retail business doesn’t feel like entrepreneurship, but you can think of it as an internship by immersion. If retail is where you want to be, you can use this experience to learn the business from the bottom up and pick up lessons you could never learn any other way. You take the risk that the time you spend training will be valuable when you start your own new venture. You are an entrepreneur.

I am an artist. How am I an Entrepreneur?

If an artist does not think like an entrepreneur, no one will ever see their work. Artists are not traditionally comfortable with the business aspects of their careers, but without sales, all you have is living room full of paintings. Without auditions and demo tapes, you’re just singing in the shower.

Artists are familiar with risk and being accountable only to themselves. All they need is to put some of their drive into making art a business. If you are not thinking about marketing, you are missing out on a big part of your career. You are an entrepreneur!

I am a freelancer. How am I an Entrepreneur?

This one is easy! Your business is yourself. You develop a brand, a list of customers and a marketing strategy. You are out there scratching for more business and making connections to broaden your customer base. You are taking a risk every day that you might not have a steady income stream. You are clearly an entrepreneur.

I read an article on the Entrepreneurs’ Organization website called “What’s Your Personal Culture?” It really spoke to me about how to achieve an entrepreneurial mindset. If you have a clear mission, make smart business decisions about where to spend your time, and develop and implement a marketing strategy for yourself, you are indeed an Entrepreneur.

Wendy Stackhouse, Entrepreneur and Consultant for Artisan Creative


Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

 

This week entrepreneurship is being celebrated in 123 countries engaging more than 10 million current and aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide during Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Entities such as The Kaufman Foundation and EO are helping the world learn how entrepreneurs are driving the change we need to overcome these challenging times.  By coming together to share their collective experience, participating entrepreneurs will inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Kiva is just one prime example of how a small group of entrepreneurs can positively impact a much broader base of global ones, by giving them the opportunity to build something that will return on their investment.  Who knows the impact a week like this will have on the entrepreneurs of tomorrow!

Whether by necessity or choice, the entrepreneurial spirit comes from within, and in many ways the freelancers our company works with are entrepreneurs.  By running their own business every day - selling, marketing, creating, invoicing and collecting - freelancers face the same business challenges that entrepreneurs do.

I encourage each of our freelancers to spend some time this week learning about what it takes to change your community and the world as an entrepreneur!

Jamie Douraghy, President


7 Tips for Better Negotiating: How to Close the Deal

Thursday, November 10, 2011

7 Tips for Better Negotiating: How to Close the Deal

 

As a freelancer, I found myself presented with a rather unattractive job offer this past week and ended up thinking a lot about negotiating and how I wanted to handle the situation. I would like to close the deal and have some additional work – but was I willing to compromise significantly to make it happen? I decided to do some research about successful negotiating and found some pretty useful tips for anyone who might be searching for a job or freelance work:

  1. Be prepared. Once an offer has been made, you should have an answer ready for any scenario. The salary might be lower than expected, but you get to work from home. The drive might be further, but you would be working with one of your dream companies. Know your deal-breakers and on what you are willing to compromise.
  2. Plan your next move. When the offer is not ideal, make sure you are clear on what is most important to you. It might be vacation days, overtime, salary or telecommuting opportunities. There might be a way to get a concession on whatever your sticking point might be. Don’t be afraid to get creative with a counter-offer.
  3. Know what the other side needs. Their agenda is not your agenda, but they do need something from you. When presenting a counter offer - lay out exactly what value you bring to the table and make sure they understand that what they are getting from you is unique.
  4. Be sincere, polite and business-like.  By being yourself you remind them how much they would like to work with you day in and day out. Even if these negotiations don’t work out for either party, don’t burn any bridges. If they really need you, they might come back to you at a later time - but not if your relationship has been damaged by the negotiation process.
  5. Practice. Try out your presentation on someone else first. It will help clarify your thoughts and the language you will use in the negotiation. The more constructive feedback – the more focused your presentation. The more you practice, the better you will deliver.
  6. Know when to walk away. This is the hardest one, especially in a down market for employment. Remember that the way they treat you before you are hired is a good indicator of their company culture. A deal that negatively affects either party in some way is not a good deal. If it doesn’t offer you something you can be happy with, try again somewhere else.
As for me, I have decided to walk away from my unattractive offer for a few reasons and am preparing for that conversation later today. I have run my arguments by a few trusted friends and am determined to be polite and sincere, but express very clearly that this is no longer a good deal for me. We shall see if there is a counter-offer in the cards!

UPDATE:  My negotiation meeting went very well and I received a better offer a few days later, which I accepted!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


LinkedIn for Creatives

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

LinkedIn for Creatives



We’ve written quite a few articles on how to use LinkedIn for your creative job search and thought it would be helpful to put them all in one place.

LinkedIn is a necessary social media platform for anyone in today's workforce, whether working, looking for work or freelancing. It is where businesspeople are looking to get details about our lives and interests before they interview (or decide whom to interview) and where we can find commonalities with those who might be looking to hire us.

It also provides opportunities for us to help one another by introducing people we trust to other trusted professionals who would never have had the chance to meet without our assistance. We have all heard of a friend who is looking for work and would like to be able to help them but don’t know what to do. LinkedIn is a place to do something tangible for the people we care about.

Maximizing Your LinkedIn Profile: Getting Started

This post discusses why to join LinkedIn if you are in a creative field and gave tips for the initial sign-up process as well as pitfalls to avoid. We also talk about the importance of telling your story and how to adapt the information on your resume to make it work for you on this platform.

Maximizing LinkedIn: Connections

In this article, we help you decide with whom you want to connect. There are some simple questions you want to ask about each person you are considering and those who invite you to be in their network. I also tell a personal story about how LinkedIn provided me with amazing opportunity!

Maximizing LinkedIn: Groups

Here we talk about why you should join LinkedIn Groups, how to find Groups that are valuable to you and what to do once you are a member. The interaction that happens in groups is very important to using LinkedIn to promote your brand and your expertise.

Maximizing LinkedIn: Job Search

Finally, we brought it all together to highlight how LinkedIn can help creatives in particular in their job search process. We offer many ways LinkedIn can give you an advantage, help you do better in your interviews and feel empowered.

Being a member of LinkedIn has definitely been an advantage in my job search journey. I am grateful to my coaches and colleagues for pushing me to use it often and well. I hope our articles can help make LinkedIn a valuable part of your job search process!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


7 Twitter Tips for Creative Job Search

Thursday, November 03, 2011

7 Twitter Tips for Creative Job Search


If you’re on a job search, you’re already probably spending a lot of time on the internet.

We’ve already talked about how LinkedIn can help your search. But there is a less formal social media platform that can have just as significant an impact—Twitter.

I read an interesting article the other day on Social Media Examiner: 17 Twitter Marketing Tips from the Pros. A lot of the tips in that article are terrific, but I thought they missed a very important marketing angle – marketing oneself on a job search. So here’s my take on their tips…and a few of my own.

  1. “Share Valuable Content in Your Own Voice.” I couldn’t agree more! I would add that creatives who are copywriters should craft those 140 characters even more carefully than the general user. Artists and designers should also make sure to include links to their visual work as often as possible.

  2. “Share Links to Useful Content.” Their advice is to share more links than you do @replies. This is a good reminder to be helpful. If you have something insightful to say about something you read, link back. If you offer valuable links often enough, your followers will be happy they followed you. You never know who might be reading your feed and looking to fill a creative role!

  3. “Use Search Features.” The article talks about using search to find out what your customers want. When you are looking for work, you can use search to your advantage as well. Search ‘“creative” “los angeles”’ or “looking for a designer” and other keywords to get a quick list of potential openings and feeds to follow.

  4. “Improve Your Networking.” In our posts about LinkedIn, we discussed that joining groups to interact with influencers with whom we are not personally connected is a great tip. Twitter is even better for this, since you can follow anyone on the platform. When you find the thought leaders in your industry, follow them, retweet them, reply to them, engage with them. Eventually you will be connected to them, too!

  5. Twitter and Blogs. If you are following interesting people who also write on longer-form blogs, follow their links, read their blogs and comment on them. This deepens the rather shallow relationships of Twitter into real interactions and might get you another Follower yourself. If you are blogging, make sure you Tweet links to your blog as well. Do it often.

  6. Tweet more often. People with large Follow lists will miss you completely if you only Tweet in the morning or once or twice a day. Or they could be in a different time zone and not reading during your workday. Although it is a good idea not to Tweet 10 times in 2 minutes, every half hour or so is a nice pace. You can use a scheduler like HootSuite to set up a whole day of posts in 30 minutes!

  7. Use the limitations of Twitter to hone your message. 140 characters isn’t much but they can be extremely powerful. Eliminate the extraneous. Be clear. Be concise. Twitter is a little bit (only a little) like writing poetry. It doesn’t work until there is nothing left to cut out.
Twitter may be a fun platform for more playful and informal conversation, but it does have some of the social media “etiquette” - write carefully, provide valuable original content and engage with others. If you put some thought into Twitter, it can work for you in any business context. 

For more tips, news and links, Follow us at @artisanupdates!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Communication 101 for Freelancers

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Communication 101 for Freelancers



It’s World Communication Week (November 1-7) and a good time to think about the challenges of communications in today’s working environment. Many more people are working as freelancers and working offsite, presenting communication issues that don’t arise when everyone is working in the same office together.  

Some things to consider about communication as a freelancer:

Time Zone

If you are working offsite, you might be in a different time zone or even a different country from your client. Either one of you might have expectations of prompt responses to emails or calls which seem unreasonable to the other. I have one client in Central Time, which means he takes lunch right when I’m working. If I send him an urgent email, he won’t respond until it’s too late for me to make my deadline. I know I have to text him to get a quick answer. Talk to your client about your working hours and the best ways to communicate with each other.

Get it in Writing

Phone calls are great for saving time when exchanging small pieces of information or asking a question or two. However, having detailed instructions or answers in writing proves invaluable when you sit down to actually work on your project. An email can serve as your checklist, ensuring haven’t missed any important elements. Even when I have a meeting by phone with a client, I take notes and write them up clearly when it’s over. This might seem like a bit of extra work, but the wasted time over mistakes or having to clarify is much more significant.

Updates

Clients can get nervous if they haven’t heard from you in a while during your project. Even if you haven’t finished anything, regular updates, about what you have accomplished so far and what your next steps will be, are essential. For some clients – this means a morning and evening update. For other clients it might be every few days. Confirm with your client ahead of time how often you should be in touch. Services such as Basecamp can be a great tool for managing your project, timelines and updates.

Ask Questions

We all want our clients to feel like we “get it” right away and are off and running. But we’ve all delivered a project we thought was complete only to find that it needs significant reworking. Sometimes this is because the client doesn’t really know what he or she wants until they see it. But often, it is because we failed to ask key questions throughout the process. If in doubt, check it out!

Use Collaboration Technology

With the amount of technology out there to improve communication – there is really no excuse not to be better communicators. Skype and Chat services (AIM, iChat, etc) allow for instant, free communication. You can even share send and share small files. Services like Dropbox, box.net or Google Docs make it easy for you to share files with your clients and get their feedback, no matter what time or place you are working. Google Docs even allows you both to edit and track changes to your documents in real time. These tools are just another way to allow clients to monitor your pace of work and deliverables.

As we talked about last week, freelancing has a lot of good points: flexibility, choice, environment, independence. Successful freelancing, like any other work situations, thrives on good communication.

If you put some thought into the best ways to keep the lines of communication open, your freelancing relationships will not only bring you monetary rewards, but also more clients in the future.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Wendy has worked as a freelance singer, transcriptionist, legal assistant, writer, web designer, choral conductor and web content development instructor. Right now, she is freelancing full time for clients in recruiting, environmental services, public relations, web content and music, and will be teaching a workshop in Website Content Development next month. 


Giving Back Gives Back to You, Too

Friday, October 28, 2011

Giving Back Gives Back to You, Too



We’ve all heard politicians on both sides of the aisle talk about the importance of Volunteerism in America. Part of America’s “exceptionalism” is Americans’ willingness to help one another, in times of crisis and on ordinary days. The personal fulfillment that comes from investing time in a cause that you are passionate about or helping an underserved population cannot be overestimated. The same goes for the tangible benefits brought to the organizations and people one serves. But volunteering can bring you benefits that you may not have considered, especially if you are in the midst of a job search process.

Volunteerism and the Job Hunt

When you are looking for work, volunteerism can sound a lot like working for free. Not ideal when you need some income. But try to think about what your volunteer experience might bring you even if it is not monetary rewards. 

  • Keep your skills up-to-date—when you haven’t worked in a while, it’s easy to let your skills lax or creative energy die. Use those skills to help a nonprofit and stay on top of the latest trends and technology. Organizations like the Taproot Foundation tap into the Creative industries, specifically, for Design and Marketing talent. Projects there can make a great addition to any portfolio.

  • Network—you will probably have a chance to meet some of the movers and shakers at your volunteer organization and start a relationship that could lead to a job when an opening occurs. You immediately rise to the top of the resume pile without even having an interview!

  • Get recommendations—if you do a good job, you can ask your manager to write you a letter of recommendation or an endorsement on LinkedIn.

  • Transition into a new role—your transferable skills can be very useful to a non-profit, even if it is not in a field you have worked in before. Get your foot in the door in a new industry – who knows where it could lead you.

  • Eliminate gaps in your resume’s timeline—a potential employer likes to see that you have been working steadily before you interview. A volunteer position can be listed as Work Experience. LinkedIn also has a new category for Volunteer Experience which is another way to get that information out to hiring managers.
I am a member of a group of experienced professionals called the LA Fellows, a career development program which brings together highly-skilled workers with meaningful volunteer opportunities which will help them in their job search process. I asked my colleagues, “What has your volunteer experience done for you?” Here are some of their answers:

Robert Kanter: “It helped me reassess my value to an organization as a leader, teacher and communicator.”

Caroline McElroy: “My volunteer experience filled in a gap in my resume, gave me something exciting to talk about in interviews and inspired me to go back to publishing a newsletter and blogging.”

Joy Pacifici: “Volunteering makes me happy by letting me give back to causes I believe in. And when I am happy, I am a more effective person at work and in life.”

I am also a committed volunteer - at my children’s schools, in the classroom and for booster clubs, with my church and as a Girl Scout Leader. Volunteering is an important part of my life and has become an important element in my career development as well. Perhaps you, too, can discover just how rewarding it can be.

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, they send forth a tiny ripple of hope… These ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” Robert F. Kennedy

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


The Pros and Cons of Being a Creative Freelancer

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Being a Creative Freelancer



According to MSN Money this week, freelancing is “the future of work.” 

New employer businesses have declined 27 percent since 2006, but if you count newly self-employed people in the sample of startups, the numbers have stayed the same and, in some cases, even increased. Many of these self-employed talent have been freelancers all along, but there are large numbers of unemployed creatives taking their skills and starting their own businesses. 

Technology and globalization have made it possible for “solopreneurs” to launch their own businesses with greater ease. And in today’s job market, especially for recent grads and older workers, “solopreneurship” might be the best option for making a living.

But freelancing is not for everyone. Whether freelancing is the right option for you depends on a lot of factors, some of which are very personal.

Here are some of the pros and cons to help you figure out whether the freelancing life is right for you:

Pros:

Flexibility – Want to work mornings and evenings, but not afternoons? Need to take care of your children or want to volunteer twice a week? You can make your own schedule if you work for yourself. If you want time to work on your personal projects, you can fit those in, too. Flexibility usually means a better work-life balance.

Environment – Working from home allows you to work where you’re most comfortable and with all of your favorite equipment, software and set-up. No commute means you also lower your carbon footprint.

Fill in the gaps on your resume – If you’re looking for a full time job, freelancing is a good way to keep your skills up-to-date and keep your resume from developing a lot of white space. Partnering with a freelance recruiting firm that specializes in your area can help add potential clients and projects to your resume as well.

Save money – Gas, wardrobe, lunches – all things you don’t have to purchase often when you’re working for yourself. There are also many great tax benefits available, depending on how you set up your business (we advise that you see a Tax Specialist who has worked with Independent Contractors or Sole Proprieters for more information).

No micromanagement – With no boss looking over your shoulder, you can have less stress and be more focused on the project at hand.

Choice – As the sole creative in charge of your craft, you have the freedom to work on only the projects that inspire you. Never again do you have to accept projects that you find tedious or unpleasant.

That all sounds great, doesn’t it? However, there can be a downside to freelancing:

Cons:

No benefits – When you’re not working – you’re not getting paid. No more discounted or free health insurance or 401K contributions. These items are all out of pockets expenses for which you are now directly responsible.

No steady income – If you are providing a valuable service and marketing yourself well, you should be making money. But it can take time to build a stable of clients. And even then, your clients’ needs can change during certain times of the month or seasonally. If that makes you nervous, you might want to keep your cubicle for a while longer.

No accountability – While to freedom to self-manage is great, if you have trouble staying on-task or delivering to deadline when not managed, you will have trouble being a freelancer. Excellent discipline and time-management skills are key to keeping your clients happy!

Interruptions – Anyone who has worked from home and has a family or roommate can tell you stories about how they are always interrupted. Setting boundaries with those you live with is essential to successful freelancing.

The buck stops here – If your clients need something right away or there is a problem with something you have produced, it’s your job to take care of it. Sometimes that means late nights or early mornings to ensure everything is done on time.

Bottom Line:

If you enjoy working independently, can handle a little uncertainty and are comfortable marketing yourself for new work, freelancing could be a great choice for you.

If you like a lot of guidance or interaction, need steady income and/or want to close your laptop every day at 5, keep looking for that traditional role.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


The Power of Proofreading

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Power of Proofreading



I feel sure you’ve heard this before.

Proofread your work. And your resume. And your cover letter. And your email. And your blog. And your online portfolio.

Since high school, or even before, people have been telling you and you have been…spell checking.

Sometimes. Spell check is not enough.

The power of proofreading is a negative power. Typographical errors, misspellings and grammatical mistakes suck the potential right out of an otherwise promising candidate.  Instead they leave your resume a crushed ball in someone’s trash can.

Picture this: You’re a marketing pro looking for work and see a posting for the perfect role in the perfect place for the perfect salary.  You have all the experience and education the job requires, and you excitedly attach your resume to an email with a little note of introduction.  You click “Send” without another thought.  A couple of days later you decide to use that introduction as the start of another email cover letter, only to discover that you spelled the hiring manager’s name wrong.  Spell check won’t catch that one!

How about this?  A hiring manager has decided to take a look at a web designer’s online portfolio to see if she thinks his aesthetic will work for her company.  She clicks on the link he has provided and finds herself on his beautifully designed homepage.  It boasts evocative photographs and a clear user interface.

But one of his menu items reads: “Web Content Mangement.”

What does that make her think?

Did his resume and work say “attention to detail?”  Not so much.

76% of recruiters in a survey about typos said that mistakes would cause them to take a candidate out of the running for an interview.

Do you really want 76% of hiring managers throwing out your resume because of a typo?   I don’t like those odds!

What is the secret?

Proofread. Proofread again. Have your mother proofread. Your spouse. Heck, your kid (I’ve been proofreading my father’s academic papers since I was 8). Put as many eyeballs on your materials as you have friends you trust.  And a couple after that.

In this uncertain job market, you don’t have any wiggle room.  This one is easy to fix. Fix it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


Maximizing LinkedIn: Job Search

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Maximizing LinkedIn: Job Search



I didn’t sign up with LinkedIn until I was looking for a job. I hadn’t even really heard of it when I was working in the non-profit sector and busy with the many hats I wore there.

I should have signed up earlier.

I’ve written before about one of my career development coaches, Larry Braman of Global Career Consulting and Placement and beloved instructor at the LA Fellows (not to mention reconnected old friend from singing days in New York—that is a story!). Larry not only taught me most of the things I know about LinkedIn, he gave me homework: 100% Profile in about 5 days. From nothing.

When we came back to class with (some of) our profiles (mostly) finished, we broke up into small groups to make lists of how to use various social media platforms for Job Search. Since I was familiar with Twitter and Facebook already, I went to the LinkedIn group, not so much to offer input as to ask, “What is this good for, anyway?”

Luckily, my friend and colleague Jay Bernard was there to give me the scoop.

There are many aspects of being on a job search which make us feel relatively powerless. I mean, hey, bottom line, you’re waiting for someone else to say “Yes!” and you can’t do anything until they do. That mystery hiring manager seems to hold all the cards.

LinkedIn is a place to feel like you are seizing back the power for yourself. And that empowerment will feed your energy in interviews, your decisions about how you spend your job search time and how much effort you really put into finding that perfect role.

Branding

That 100% profile? That’s your brand! It shows what you have done, what you can do, what you want to do and what you love to do, if you’ve gone ahead and told your story.

Research

Make sure you know the name of the hiring manager you are interviewing with before you go and check them out on LinkedIn. You can find out what you have in common and also come up with interesting things to ask based on facts like how long they have been with the company and what roles the have had in the past.

Build Your Credibility

Interacting in Groups can help you show off your expertise. Your Profile will show which Groups you belong to and let a hiring manager see how involved you are in their industry. Take the opportunity to comment and start discussions and show off your expertise.

Fill in Gaps

If you are between roles but volunteering or interning using any of your transferable skills (I hope you are!), LinkedIn now offers a Volunteer category in your Profile to list those activities. This is a great way to cover any possible gap in your employment history. I will be talking about Volunteerism in an upcoming post, so please come back for that.

Introductions

As your list of connections grows, monitor it for connections to your target companies. Get your 1st level connections to introduce you to theirs. If you followed my advice about whom to connect with, they should say yes!

One of the hardest things about the job search process is never knowing which iron in the fire is going to be the one that pays off. The iron in the LinkedIn fire has a lot of potential, if you stir the coals and feed the flames!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative



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