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Shoveling the Sh*t

Hi, there. My name is Rosie and I’m the owner of Rosie’s Creative, LLC. I don’t typically write commentary on personal musings, so this blog post will one of very few. Despite my aversion to sharing personal stories, I feel it is important to support and empower other small business owners and creative professionals with lessons learned. So, let’s begin…

Shoveling the Sh*t

Today is Wednesday, February 12th of 2014 and all across Maryland the state is preparing for SNOW-MAGEDDON PART 2. My neighbors are skipping work to salt their steps, buy multiple shovels to place by their front doors, and scurrying off to grocery (or liquor) stores. Maryland doesn’t typically receive a lot of accumulative snowfall, so when the weather reports are shouting “8 or more inches! The sky is falling!”, people tend to panic. It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria when it spreads from person to person, household to household, and social media outlets.

Because I work from home, the snow is of little concern to me but, it does affect how I interact with my clients. I won’t really have to drive anywhere, since most of my in-person consultations will be re-scheduled. My more tech-savvy clients will request on-line meetings. I can count on receiving a flood of emails as independent shop owners and artisans, locked away inside their homes, become refocused on their websites. As my husband relaxes in the other room, watching the snow fall from his comfy place on the couch surrounded by lazy kitties, I’ll be doing the multitask dance and happily communicating with clients I may not have seen or spoken with in several weeks. I always look forward to renewed interest and questions like “How can we make the homepage more engaging?” and “Can you explain to me how to make a Google AdWords campaign, again?”

While the day of the great snowfall will be packed with action and excitement, the day prior is often quiet… very, very quiet. I hate quiet days. They annoy me. Like today, for example, I know the snow will be falling tonight and the communication onslaught will begin tomorrow morning, but for now – nothing. My clients are diligently completing important tasks at work, then rushing home to prepare for the storm, and staying focused on the safety of themselves and their families. Me? I’m just sitting here, at my desk with a cat on my lap, thinking.

Leaving me alone with my musings is dangerous. The cat knows this and is doing her very best to restrain me, by lounging languidly in my lap and purring in a way that says “Don’t get up. Just love me. You know you want to.” Despite her efforts to distract me, my thoughts churn about my business, running in spiraling circles without really seeking a resolution. This miasma includes ideas like (insert deep breath here)…

How can I provide better service? Should I hire a second designer? Do I need a secretarial assistant? Would I get along with one? Can I afford one? Will my referrals be well received by those they’ve been referred to? Why isn’t Client A calling me back? Does she hate me and/or my design? Maybe I need more cats in the office… Client A likes cats. I like yellow sweaters. Should I put yellow sweaters on the front page of Client B’s vintage web store? Why hasn’t Client B responded to my email about yellow sweaters I just sent 5 seconds ago? Client C should have received her invoice by now, but she hasn’t paid me. Does she hate me? Is she unhappy with my work? Maybe I should send Client C a nice pair of fluffy socks. Everyone likes fluffy socks. The dog ate my last pair of fluffy socks… I should buy 2 pairs, and make it a business expense. Have I run an expense report for this month yet? Is it too early? Does having lunch at the sushi bar count as a business expense? Does the sushi bar need a website? I bet they need a website. I should pitch a website.

This goes on for hours. For the sanity of the readers of this article, I have included punctuation. Usually, in my head, there is none… just an endless stream of ideas, worries, and kookiness. The miasma persists in my brain all day long, and is never really ending. It’s usually at this point that my friends, coworkers, and associates ask me: “How do you manage to run your own business with all that noise in your head?”

(Hold on to your hats, because this is where I bring this article full circle.)

I KNOW HOW TO SHOVEL SH*T. When the accumulation of thoughts and worries in my brain reaches the point of “OMG! The sky is falling! Maryland Snow!” panic, I break out the trusty shovel. This is a metaphor, so I don’t actually get a shovel, but I use the one in my mind to start pushing ideas around. After all, the point of shoveling snow is to simply move the snow, creating a path from one place to another in an effort to get around. Like snow, my thoughts need to be cleared away to allow the movement of more important ideas.

Example #1: It’s important to stay on top of the cash flow. Shovel that sh*t.Run the report, double-check the bank account on-line, and then move on. No biggie. Not good with numbers? Acquire an accountant or buy Quick Books. Forward motion achieved.

Example #2: No one needs socks. Shovel that sh*t. Communication is more important. Let’s call Client C and make sure everything is okay. Forward motion achieved.

Example #3: Cats? Shovel that sh*t. Cats are always good, but Client A probably doesn’t want a new pet. Client A is probably struggling with how to describe changes to the design. Call her and help her communicate her ideas. Forward motion achieved.

What I mean to say, in so many words, is that every creative professional has a different way of handling the stress of being both creative and business minded. Often the two collide, being in conflict with one another, and create a snowstorm in the mind preventing forward motion.  I often encounter other creative professionals who become overwhelmed with the thought process described in this article. Each and every professional has to develop their own technique for taming it. Usually, their techniques are learned from discussing the problem with other creatives, and developing solutions suited just for them. Shovel That Sh*t is my technique, and may not work for everyone, but it’s a good place to start.

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