“But I’m not a creative person!” Does this sound like you? Do you believe that you are not creative because you are not artistic, musical, or prolific with words? Creativity is far reaching and extends beyond imagination. There is much joy in finding passion for anything that is pleasing to do.
Everyone has the ability to be creative because it is a God-given gift. However, you may not recognize your particular form of creativity because it’s being measured against someone else’s creativity or accomplishments. Just stop that NOW! Instead consider how you might express your own brand of creativity in everyday ways.
You might be a person who expresses your creativity through your kindness. I read in someone’s Facebook posts that they made up little small bags of essential items (travel toothbrush/toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, lotion, tissues, etc.) that they carry in their car to give away to homeless people. That’s a neat idea if you have a heart for helping others. What about the gift of humor? Another person I know uses their improv comedy skills to create short sketch scenes to share with their friends to enjoy.
Perhaps volunteering is a form of creativity that brings you excitement when you are being of service to others. Or maybe you have learned to express your creativity by saying something kind to each person you interact with. Another person I know created a small artsy book of positive phrases that they give to people they meet.
Maybe picking out fabrics and making clothing or blankets is fun for you, or knitting or crocheting for yourself, family and friends. What about planning activities or trips for friends? Last year, I met a guy you planned a cruise for a group of friends, and it was so successful that he now has a million-dollar business planning cruises and group vacations. I also met a graphic designer during a workshop who enjoyed reading enough that she began to write and design books under her own publishing company. Today, she enjoys teaches people how they can do the same thing.
We all have many ways in which we can express our creativity, and expressing it is vital to our well-being and gives us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with life. Creative expression will occur naturally when you open your heart to yourself and others, allowing the gift of creativity to flow through you from the spiritual source that is always available to you. New ideas are always waiting to be expressed through you – you just need to open to them and allow the time for them. When you do, you will experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from everyday creativity!
Enjoy (and Create)!
If you’ve ever had an idea to elude you, join the club. The most common problem for serial idea generators is either not writing down the idea or not acting on a written idea. Which person are you?
I used to vacillate between the two, but consistently write down ideas now. I also recognize that it’s never to late to get into the habit of jotting down your ideas for future recall, so to help inspire you, following are 25 quotes extolling the”Power of Ideas.” Feel free to share which one is your favorites or pass along a favorite “Idea” quote in the comments below.
“If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it.” – Thomas Mann
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams
“A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” – Mary Kay Ash
“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May
“An idea is salvation by imagination.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha
“All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea.” – Napoleon Hill
“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.” – Dee Hock
“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca
“Every really new idea looks crazy at first.” – Alfred North Whitehead
“One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
“Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle.” – Ken Hakuta
“You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.” – Medgar Evers
“The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time.” – Henry Ford
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.” – Swami Vivekananda
“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” – Linus Pauling
“My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.” – Anais Nin
“I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” – Pablo Picasso
“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“A half-baked idea is okay as long as it’s in the oven.” – Author Unknown
“If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.” – Alfred Noble
“My mind contains many good ideas, but it’s not always easy to squeeze one out.” – Ashleigh Brilliant
“A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night.” – Marilyn vos Savant
“It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.” – Charles Peguy
“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” – Barbara Januskiewicz
It is often challenging to find interesting ways to present business data. Whether it’s a live meeting or online presentation, customers expect to be engaged visually.
When I recently had the opportunity to experiment with Prezi Online Presentation Software using content from a previous Powerpoint, I was blown away with the ease of use and wanted to share what I learned.
Prezi is a visually appealing and engaging, motion-filled and fluid presentation format. I created a free online public account while I experimented with the software, but the cost for the software is very reasonable with a basic plan under $5 per month. As a freelance consultant and entrepreneur, I understand the need for finding affordable technology to remain relevant in a digital-driven social media marketplace. Prezi offers an easy, dynamic, and cost-effective method for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.
If you are already savvy with maneuvering PowerPoint or catch on to software quickly, Prezi is a breeze to use. I played around with it for a little over an hour using one of their templates until I had something I felt satisfied with presenting to my client for their preview. Obviously, you need to already have the content you want to put into the presentation. I used content from an existing PowerPoint to create mine, which probably made my learning curve easier. I would suggest using the same method until you are familiar with navigating Prezi, but otherwise it’s just a cooler and more effective way of formatting and presenting data and information.
So here are my highlights:
- Prezi works from an open canvas environment with options to use their pre-set paths or build your own.
- Once you set up an account (public account is free but your files are accessible to anyone), choose from a library of reusable prezis or templates, and just have at it.
- The software is simple to navigate with options to change backgrounds, shapes and colors to incorporate your company’s brand image.
- As you build your prezi, the graphic and visual features allow you to zoom and pan through text, emphasizing main points and key information.
- You can add and edit images directly onto the canvas.
- Because it is cloud-based program, the presentation can be accessed remotely on a tablet, phone or PC, and it allows for ease of collaboration with others in real-time.
Here’s a preview of a Prezi template that you may enjoy. Would love to hear your thoughts or feedback from your Prezi experience; submit comments below:
Social media is no passing fad. It is definitely here to stay with ever evolving mobile technology and apps being launched daily. If your business is not using some form of social media to promote your services, expertise or advertise, you may want to reconsider as writer and social media intern Katie Herrera shares her insights on how to make it work for you.
It is 2015 and nearly every consumer you are marketing your product(s) or service(s) to has a smartphone in their pocket with at least one social media account at their fingertips. Don’t you think it’s just good business sense to utilize these (free) services that your consumers, clients, and/or customers are already using?
The first thing to realize as a small business or an entrepreneur using social media to sell their product, is that it should not be entirely obvious that you are trying to sell something to your followers. This may sound counterproductive, but hear me out here! The point of social media is for people to foster relationships with other people. Whether you agree with that statement or not, you can think about your own personal social media accounts and realize that many of your “friends” or “followers” are friends and family. Their social media accounts allow you to keep up with their lives when you may not always have the time to call them personally. You should be treating your professional social media accounts just the same: a way for you to build relationships with your clients (or customers, whatever the case may be).
A survey taken of small businesses on Twitter found that 60% of people who bought something from a small business did so because of their Twitter account. What else does an active social media account do for a small business? It causes word of mouth to become your advertisement. If you can catch a consumer’s eye with your social media posts time and again, they will be more likely to remember you when they need a service or a good similar to what you offer. Similarly, if someone they know needs a service or good that you offer, they can recommend you to a friend or family member.
While commercials on television work great for big businesses and corporations, social media can be a source for advertisement just as influential for small businesses. The keys to using social media: staying active, building relationships with your followers, and making sure your activity always relates to your business.
Katie Herrera is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer. She enjoys writing editorial content on current events and content requiring in depth research. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many rewards to freelancing and working as a consultant. Besides the opportunity to reap financially, freelancing – when done correctly – allows great opportunity for self-development and establishing new relationships.
One of the challenges I hear from aspiring freelancers is not only how can they find clients but where can they access professional development tools to help them continue to hone their skills and learn new trends. What I have found to be beneficial is attending business networking functions and joining networking organizations and niche marketing groups. I have personally and professionally grown from the experiences and highly recommend for those seeking ways to expand their freelancing exposure.
Networking Really Does Work
At a recent networking event of The National Business Chamber (TNBC) in Gwinnett County, Georgia, I’ve had the opportunity to meet potential clients, learn about new products and services, and enrich my skills through training presentations. For example, I had never heard of Wildtree, an All-Natural and Organic Food Products company, but TNBC member Stephanie French hosted a lunch and learn session for the organization. Not only did she provide a beautiful luncheon spread featuring Wildtree products, sauces and grapeseed oils, she also shared information on healthy and clean eating and living and the difference it’s made in her family’s life.
One of my favorite people at TNBC is Ellie Peters and her mom, Jen. Ellie is a 12-year-old youth entrepreneur and owner of Cool2SweetSoap.com, a natural bath and body products company. Ellie makes face and bath soaps, bath fizzies, a dog shampoo, and shaving soap. What began as a family project to cure a relative’s dry skin, has morphed into a thriving soap business for Ellie. Her products are great for sensitive and dry skin, made with the finest organic ingredients and essential oils. Her products are great as gift items and can be purchased online and in select local retail businesses. I recommended a friend to the company who was looking for a unique gift item for Father’s Day. I suggested they consider the Pokey Be Gone shaving soap and Spring Fresh (vegan) soap.
Finding Your Niche Group
There are many specialties to consider as a freelancer and one that has proven beneficial for me is the Freelance Writers Den. This organization provides insight for freelance writers on growing their income, finding clients, and training on new skills sets, like How to Write White Papers and Effectively Pitching News Stories. What is unique about this organization is it’s a membership site hosted by accomplished freelance writer Carol Tice who has years of experience writing for national publications. In The Den, Carol shares her secrets and tips for achieving a six figure freelance writing income, and act as a coach to motivate and encourage aspiring freelance writers.
The Den is a very popular network community amongst writers, and many boast of exponentially growing their income from joining the community. Each month, the site features members only special training calls with access to some of the best writers and editors. Currently there is a waiting list to join The Den, but for a limited time, the Den will be open for membership on Thursday, June 11. But to get in, you have to already be on the waiting list. If you are serious about growing your income, you don’t want to miss out on joining the Den.
Being involved with TNBC and The Freelance Writers Den are just two of the organizations that have been instrumental in growing my freelance and consulting business. While many believe that this is an easy opportunity to pursue, it requires a lot of work to get the right combination of resources and leads. Growing a freelance business is really about exposure and visibility. And sometimes the best opportunities become available just from being present.
Having a solid grasp and understanding of information is a key element for achieving business success. In today’s guest post, Heridev Business Solutions offers insight on the importance of tracking and interpreting business data for the entrepreneur, home-based and small business owners.
It was 3 pm and Susan’s Sandwich Shop was closed for the day. The staff was gone and the proprietor, Joan, was planning an early departure too to spend the evening with her daughter after whom she named the shop. It was a slow day as there were no throngs of office workers and students lining up for the inexpensive gourmet sandwiches.
As Joan checked off the receipts from the point of sale machine that was leased when she opened the business four years ago, she noticed that something else was also very different. The sales were a quarter of the regular daily intake.
While reviewing the cash and card receipts, Joan wondered if her plan to close all weekend was the right one. So as to soothe that nagging fear, she decided to look at the sales history for the past two years around the Easter and Passover holidays. She also pulled up her bank statements for the same time last year.
Upon viewing the historical data, the proprietor became less worried as it was apparent that the numbers were typical for the shop during those holiday seasons. Whew, what a relief.
Like Joan, many small business owners have invested in technology and software that store a lot of historical data about their business’ sales, purchases and performance. For some of these entrepreneurs, this data can be found in point of sale systems and for others it is in their accounting software. Even the shoeboxes filled with receipts and invoices hold valuable information that, if analyzed, can help the entrepreneur to make better business decisions.
Data Efficiency and Interpretation
What though is the most efficient way to capture information? Automated systems are able to produce detailed reports quickly which is why Joan was able to see the numbers for a three year period within a few seconds and make the necessary comparisons. Automation also improves efficiency by recording and tracking information about sales, customers, purchases, returns, etc. that, if done manually, would take hours to complete. ZDNet, the business technology news website, opines that obtaining a good point of sales system is a worthwhile investment for small retailers and restaurants.
However, data by itself is of little value to the entrepreneur if it is not interpreted to identify relevant trends and patterns. If she wishes to, Joan can easily identify her best selling items for the past four years. She can also effortlessly know which product is the cash cow for the business based on data from the sales margins report.
The small business magazine Chron argues that it is critical for small businesses to analyze the information that is available to them so that they can use it to react to changes in consumer preferences and adjust their strategies in response to the opportunities and threats that are present in the external environment.
Information is a vital resource for any entrepreneur and technology makes it easy to harness and use the data gathered. So then, what will you do with your business data today?
As an entrepreneur, you could have the finest service or product on the planet, but if customers never discover it, your startup is going to face rough waters. Every business requires marketing, but it shouldn’t cause you to bust your budget. The following handy and economical suggestions will help you get your message out without squeezing you dry:
1. Conduct Your Own Market Research.
- Prepare a compilation of your customers’ questions, needs and issues. While you’re at it, record basic demographic information, such as gender, age and status. This will bolster your efforts to sharpen your marketing message so that it directly addresses your customers’ needs.
2. Ungarble Your Message.
- Don’t throw away resources on elaborate collateral without first developing a clear, concise message. If the average Jack or Jill doesn’t “get” your message, then simplify it. Clarity rules
3. Inexpensive Public Relations.
Do things that will burn your business’ persona into the public’s consciousness. Make sure to volunteer your services or products at charity events, publish blog articles written by you or by respected guest bloggers, write favorable comments on other blog sites, and get involved in civic and networking activities.
4. Try a Small Marketing Agency.
- Engage a small marketing agency and monitor its advice for effectiveness. A small agency well understands your budget constraints– it no doubt has its own constraints — but nonetheless must cough up innovative, exciting concepts that will goose your business. If you aren’t happy, give another agency a shot, but only after allotting enough time to the first one to fairly judge their results.
5. Marketing Advice for Free.
- Internet blogs like this one that you are reading at this very instant offer prized information freely. A library (real or virtual) is another cost-efficient resource. Here’s another idea: marketing agencies frequently provide a free initial consultation — you can learn a lot without making any commitments.
- Few types of marketing are more efficient than is word of mouth. Energize your customers to talk up your business by offering contests, raffles, and loyalty programs, as well as personalized solutions and superlative service. Recruit your happy customers to send out “the word.” Many people love to do this — you have only but to ask
7. Pamper Your Vendors.
- A happy vendor can enhance your business, but an unhappy vendor can be ruinous. Always pay vendors on time! In fact, a better tactic is to pay them in advance. If they want to be your friends, they will gladly endorse you, especially if you reciprocate.
- As you can see, there are many opportunities to adopt inexpensive marketing ideas for your business. You may experience slow results at first, but stay focused and intentional to reap benefits well in excess of the money you spent.