September 25, 2013

A book that helped me “make my ideas happen”

Making Ideas Happen by Scott BelskyLast week, I wrote about how Evernote helped me launch my new business, typebaby. Now, Id like to share a book that helped me turn my ideas into reality: Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality by Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance.

This book has been a fixture on my desk for almost a year. When I was preparing to launch typebaby, I read the book in my car while my son was napping. I read a few pages before I went to bed. And I flagged lots of pages.

Here are a 8 takeaways that I found especially helpful:

1. Break projects into primary elements

Belsky calls this the “Action Method” and it involves breaking down your project into Action Steps, References and Backburner items. This was important for me, as I was getting overwhelmed by everything I needed to accomplish prior to launching. I also liked his tip of writing your Action Steps in short phrases starting with action verbs, i.e. “Mock up a sample of…”

2. Create an energy line

I recently wrote a post on the HOW Design Creative Freelancer Blog about creating an energy line and how it was helping me prioritize my projects. This book is where I learned about it and I still update mine weekly.

3. Let go of dead-end projects

“You must be willing to kill ideas liberally—for the sake of fully pursuing other.” As a creative person, I really struggle with this. I have so many ideas and want to pursue all of them. This book made me realize that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) pursue all of my ideas. But if was really attached, I could just put an idea on the backburner and return to it later.

4. Reduce time spent on “insecurity work”

Belsky says, “Along the journey to making ideas happen, you must reduce the amount of energy you spend on stuff related to your insecurities.” This is a powerful statement. Whether it’s launching a product or writing a blog post, I’ve had insecurities pop up that kept me from moving forward.

He goes on to say, “We seek information to make our anxiety go away.” I know I’m guilty of over-researching. I postponed launching my product line until I felt everything was perfect (according to my unattainable standards). In fact, it was my husband who finally said to me: “just do it, already!”

5. Don’t go it alone

The book emphasizes partnerships. Not necessarily a business partnership, but collaborations with people who have complementary skills to help you move your project along, or like-minded people who can keep you accountable. I found this very helpful and I still reach out to my mentors and accountability buddies.

6. Seek out your competition

I thought this was an interesting concept. Belsky writes, “Ideas often have the tendency to lie stagnant until we are jolted into action by either excitement or fear.” It’s true. Watching your competition is crucial for all small business owners—and it can be a great way to push your idea into action. As Belsky says, “Seek out competition and be grateful for it. By embracing [it], you will stay at the top of your game.”

7. Go public and create accountability

When you feel accountable to your idea, you are more likely to push through and make it happen. I like to discuss my ideas with a few trusted friends who I can count on to regularly ask, “So, how is [your new idea] going?” If I know someone will be asking about it, I am more likely to focus on it.

Publicly announcing your idea also shows your commitment to it. As Belsky writes, “Only after publicly committing themselves did [leaders of new companies] experience full support from their communities.”

 8. Keep perspective and an open mind

Belsky notes how creatives can get caught up in “visionary narcissism.” We get so caught up in our idea, we are unaware of what’s been done before and consider our idea totally unique. Keep an open mind when relating with or following people in your industry—you can learn from them. As Belsky writes, “Not much is entirely new, and yes, we can adequately  learn from the past.”

Have you read Making Ideas Happen? What were your key takeaways?

 

September 18, 2013

How I launched a new business…with a little help from Evernote

Filed under: Small Business,Time Management — Tags: , , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

typebaby loves evernote

Earlier this year, I launched typebaby, a line of typographic baby & kids apparel. Starting a new business (with an existing business and a 1-year old, no less) is no easy task, but using the productivity app Evernote made it much easier.

I was already using Evernote in my graphic design business to keep track of projects, design inspiration, small business and marketing resources, and small business events (the new Evernote reminders feature is perfect for this). I also found Evernote helpful when I was searching for office space. I used it to track leasing agents and spaces I’d visited (adding photos to notes made it easy to remember places I visited).

But when I started typebaby, my usage of Evernote grew tenfold. Being a mom in addition to a small business owner, I do a lot of work during off-hours, so being able to add to and update my Evernote Notebooks and Notes from multiple devices (Mac, iPad, phone) turned out to be a lifesaver.

How did I do it?

I started out by creating Notebooks for categories relating to my new business, such as sales, marketing & PR, manufacturing, new product development, packaging, and social media. Then I started filing notes, documents and spreadsheets, articles clipped from the web, and photos.

Here are some specific ways I use Evernote.

Research and reference

Because this was my first foray into product development, I did a lot of research before I launched and saved useful articles and posts in Evernote.

Spreadsheets

Having a product business, I maintain a lot of spreadsheets with information regarding inventory, sales, retail customers, blogger outreach and public relations, so being able to save and view Excel files in Evernote is a great perk.

Inventory tracking

Inevitably, I get requests from retail stores in the evening when I’m away from my office, so having copies of my inventory spreadsheets in Evernote is very useful.

Manufacturing details

I keep track of manufacturing details, such as vendors, online catalogs, invoices, and cost analysis.

Social media marketing

typebaby is very active on social media, so I keep a copy of my social media marketing plan in Evernote for easy reference. I add notes for potential blog posts or other social media engagement ideas.

Trade shows & events

I create Notebooks for trunk shows or special events that I’m participating in to keep track of correspondence and details. I also create a list of monthly tasks (with reminders) to make sure I’m on track.

New product development

Being a creative person, I’m always coming up with new ideas. Now, instead of scribbling them onto sticky notes, I file my new product ideas in Evernote and refine or develop them in a more focused way.

In short, Evernote can make launching and running a new business much easier—especially if you’re a busy Biz Mama like me.

New to Evernote?

Check out these useful webinars from Evernote. I also find the best way to learn about Evernote is to learn from other users, so feel free to reach out to me with your questions.

Editor’s note: I was not paid by Evernote to write this. I truly love and appreciate this app. But if you use my referral link to sign up for a free or paid plan, I will get a little bonus. Woohoo!

Stay tuned to the blog this week for a book review of another resource that helped me launch typebaby…

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