Fall is Here; Time to Prepare for New Growth

17 09 2015

fall-downFall is a profound time of year for me.  While the leaves of the trees are dying, in reality I know that it is simply preparing itself for renewal. I find the falling leaves a comforting and productive movement.  It feels right to clean out the cobwebs and clutter of our lives and thoughts and shed the old as we get ready for growth. So I went on the internet to look for quotes which express this inherent inspiration.  What I found was a Japanese proverb, not exactly related to autumn, but inspiring, nonetheless. The proverb is: Fall down seven times stand up eight.

So, if it feels like fall is here and you are ready for something new, but aren’t quite sure where to find it, I collected and put together these guiding principles to help you with your endeavors. These will guarantee you make the most of September through November, traditionally a very productive time period, before enjoying the holidays.  I strongly recommend you take advantage of this advice, or before you know it, Christmas and then the New Year will be here (…I mean didn’t summer just fly by? And here it is mid-September already).

Take just a few minutes and review these tips and then answer each ‘biz question,’ as honestly as possible and apply the principles directly to your business.  I am quite sure many or all of them will hit a nerve and create a new connection.

  1. Attitude is everything. – Your frame of mind affects every action (and inaction). Don’t let you’re your moods control your life, or you will be overtaken by the current and forced down stream to a destination you never intended. Only your inner force and self-determination can keep you on track and get you to your ultimate goals.
    Biz question: Is there anything I need to change about my attitude, perspective or life to improve my business? If so, what?
  1. Stay focused on your goals. – It takes belief and a strong desire to concentrate on the changes necessary to achieve success. If your goals are clear, then it is easier to stay focused.  So begin by clarifying your goals before you get so frustrated you can’t or won’t take action.  If you are unsure of the process, or the next steps required, then seek the advice you need.
    Biz question: Do you have clear and measurable goals for your business and specifically for this fall time frame?
  1. Spend time wisely. – Time, unlike money, is something that you can’t get back. So every day you want to be as fully present as possible in each task you do, as well as choose those activities with care. Make sure your time and efforts are contributing to the wonderful aspects of your life, relationships and business endeavors.  The worst thing you can do is to spend your time on auto-pilot.  There is very little joy (or productivity, for that matter) in it.
    Biz question: How can I spend my time right now to get the best results for my business, both now and in the future?
  1. Be open-minded. – You never know where the next inspiration, great idea or deal will come from. To be open-minded you need to find ways to stay mindful and aware. Take the time to explore new activities and people and be open to new influences and experiences. A closed mind, frankly, has nowhere to go.
    Biz question: Are you open-minded to the fact that you might not know where the next awesome idea, opportunity or contribution to your business may come from?Picture2
  1. Pick a path. – There are many pathways leading to your ultimate goals. But to get anywhere you need to pick one and stick with it long enough to get there.  Then along that path, there will be many obstacles of varying degrees and nature which require decisions.  One time you may feel that breaking that obstacle down, bit-by-bit, is the right answer.  In another case, going around it works fine.  And sometimes you even have to find a new path. My father used to jokingly say, “You can’t get there from here, you have to start someplace else.”  And often that’s true. If the path dead ends or goes off course, then you MUST find a new way to achieve your goals.
    Biz question: What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?  Can you identify the top five reasons in priority order?
  1. Read between the lines. – Whether you are enjoying this blog, having coffee with friends or meeting with business professionals, reading between the lines is an imperative skill. Always go deeper than the surface. What do you need to learn, know or understand about what’s happening to get the most from the experience? Everything is happening for a reason and seeking the essence and purpose of the moment may be exactly what you should be doing to find the wisdom you need.
    Biz question: Can you look beyond the obvious tasks throughout your day and find the non-apparent insights that provide guidance for your business?
  1. Never lose hope. – Hope is the energy that drives all ambition and motivation. It is an essential element in all our endeavors and losing hope is like losing your engine. You must constantly be on guard against the negative emotions that deplete hope and eventually will prevent you from succeeding. No matter what the challenge; don’t  give up.
    Biz question: Can you identify your hope and how it powers your progress in business?  If hope is waning, what can you do to refuel?
  1. Create awesome habits. – What you do today and every day will become the habits of tomorrow. It’s important to choose actions that create the right habits. Discipline yourself to create the specific habits that you need to grow.
    Biz question: What business habits would you like to create or improve upon that will help achieve your goals? (You might want to read or revisit my blog titled: “An Art Licensor’s Continuing Education” to help you think about the wide variety of topics and skills needed to build a licensing business.)




New Year’s Advice for Entrepreneurial Artists and Creators

1 01 2015

With the New Year beginning today, I thought this would be a good time to share some key points I presented at one of the conferences I attended last year. I believe these are important reminders for entrepreneurs with an artistic or creative business.

J'net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

J’net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

I was honored to speak at the CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Conference in Orlando with other exceptional business owners. I spoke about licensing your concepts, characters and art, and then joined in on a panel, giving our best advice to some very energetic college students about entrepreneurial careers. The CEO Conference was co-hosted by SEA (Self-Employment in the Arts), an outstanding group which focuses on training for college students and those planning to run their own creative business and for whom I am an ‘Ambassador.’

I feel strongly that we need to share our talents and experience with students, young businesspeople, and burgeoning entrepreneurs because while they have more options than ever (a GOOD thing); they also have more options than ever (a TOUGH thing). For certainly, with more options, comes more complexity.

Since it’s part of my job to simplify and make understandable complex business issues, I thoroughly enjoyed being at the CEO Conference. It was a busy event, which made me think a great deal about the days when my career was just beginning to unfold and I had so many important decisions to make. As a young woman, one of these decisions was—‘Do I move to NYC with just a suitcase and a smile?’ I decided ‘yes’ and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I had to learn quickly and thoroughly the in’s and out’s of the global licensing arena in order to succeed in developing creative properties in NYC’s corporate environment and then beyond. Here are a few pieces of advice that I know will help many of you starting your own creative businesses:

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J'net Smith and Mike Veny -   CEO Conference Panel on: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J’net Smith and Mike Veny – CEO Conference Panel: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

1) Run your art business like a business — Some creators think that learning to be an entrepreneur crushes their creativity. Do NOT let this be you! Learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about how to make a viable income with your art by creating a viable business. Creating a business is actually much like creating your art. You must envision it, allow it to develop and then do it—bringing it into reality. You need to learn about business models, cash flow, marketing, sales, distribution, strategic alliances, contracts, negotiations, trends and more. You will then be one of the lucky few who actually DOES make a living in a career they love. There is no need to be a starving artist.

2) Find a PROVEN business model — First decide what you want to do and do it! There is nothing as draining as indecision. Find a proven business model that comes closest to what you want your business to be and then follow the example. Whether your creative path is through galleries, art/character licensing, government grants, or something else, you must work within the industries’ parameters and emulate the successful models in order to duplicate their achievements. Once your business is supporting itself, you can then change or expand your business to make things fit you, your dreams and goals more closely.

3) Don’t be afraid of selling yourself & marketing your business — It’s all about finding the right audience for your product (art, characters, designs, skills, services, etc.) and finding ways to profitably get it to the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If you don’t develop a consistent marketing and sales plan and routine, maintaining it with a strong discipline, you won’t have a business. However, the good news is, if you do develop a serious dedication and continuous motivation, coupled with a strong learning curve and work ethic, you will almost certainly succeed.

4) Do as much as you can on your own — Listen to advice whenever you can. Pay for it if necessary. Attend trade shows, classes, events and conferences with your peers, industry experts and your (B2B and B2C) target audiences, as often as possible. Meet with business associates wherever opportunities present themselves. Then, get as much advice as possible on choosing business partners for all those things you can’t, or don’t want to, do yourself. Remember you have to spend money to make money; but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a fortune. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how far you can push yourself. Then build your team by spending your time and energy on your strengths and delegating and investing in those whose strengths are your weaknesses.

I think that continually living outside your comfort zone is exactly why and how growth occurs and is where the brightest and best entrepreneurs are inevitably found. And remember the best advice anyone can ever give you is—‘go for it; you can do it!’

If any of you have questions about art and character licensing, business and brand development, please come and ask your questions during our next free Ask J’net Q&A.

NEW CLASSES FOR 2015 – SIGN UP TODAY
FREE ‘Ask J’net Q&A’
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EDT

Start the New Year off right by getting your art, design and character licensing questions answered by J’net during this free one-hour ‘live’ phone event. You just sign-up here for the class. When registering, there is a place at the bottom of the form to write your questions. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get the answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions. Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing.

‘Launching and Leveraging Your Annual Marketing Plan’
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 — 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
Price: $60

The New Year is traditionally the perfect time to launch your annual plan. If you don’t already have a plan or need new ideas to increase your licensing sales success in 2015, then I have created this course for you. The class will cover how to develop a marketing calendar for the year, including portfolio development, trade shows, sales timing and techniques, public relations, and social media. You will learn how to organize all of this into a comprehensive plan of action that you can manage and execute to improve your licensing sales results. The major emphasis of the class will be leveraging what you have in your current business to the next, more profitable level. Please note: This is a live audio event, which will also be video recorded. It will include a full PDF presentation booklet, as a part of the course. Any registered attendees who wish to apply to be included in our live stream video beta test, please contact me directly after registering. Included in the purchase price, all registered attendees will receive audio of the class for their personal review.

With the New Year here, it’s such a great time to take inventory of yourself, your habits, your business and goals so you can move to a new level! I look forward to connecting with you in 2015!





Rule #9

20 10 2011

Create art that sells products.

The way to create income in the art licensing business is to create art that sells products. Remember that manufacturers have a business to run. They have products they are producing, and not everyone wants it in one size, shape, design, or color. Oh, we are so lucky to have the beauty and diversity of art in our world!

For manufacturers, your art can be the key to reaching a new audience, capturing a trend, expressing a sentiment and much more. They depend on you; and you depend on them. So however you create art is fine. It’s great!

What manufacturers want from you, however, has nothing to do with the passion, skills and creative process that it took to design your latest art collection. They are busy analyzing past sales and the newest production processes, while trying to predict the future.

Try to get into the manufacturer’s head. Think about your prospective business partner, the licensee, and give them something to seriously consider. Make sure you offer them a variety of artwork that can be produced with their production process, as well as themes that work for their key sales periods, giving-occasions—such as Christmas and other holidays—and collections that enhance their products’ design. My Manufacturer’s Mindset Class (now available as audio file+full presentation) is a great resource for this, and I taught it with a stationery industry, manufacturing veteran.

Just remember that the number one objective for your art licensing business is to create art that sells products. That is absolutely the only thing that will create income, assuming that making money is part of your definition of a successful business. Now since we all know there are many layers to the feeling of success, creating art that sells also needs to fit with who you are and what you’re all about. And if isn’t in sync on that level, it probably won’t have much appeal to consumers and won’t sell. In that case, it certainly won’t be worth it in the long run. Making money and not being true to yourself is never ultimately successful.





Rule #7

10 10 2011

Get sound business advice before sound legal advice.  

This one is a little tricky. Licensing artists definitely need a good IP lawyer—that’s an Intellectual Property lawyer. But there are definitely ways of keeping expenses in check. For example, making sure you understand your business first, before you get the lawyer involved, is one great way to keep your costs down.

Every person who hires a lawyer is looking for legal advice, but few lawyers will provide business advice. First learn the business of Art Licensing through classes, coaching, blogs, articles, and by researching online. Everything you learn about the Art Licensing business is going to save you time and money in the long run.

Educating yourself about standard terms, royalties, advances, agreements, art development, approvals, product design, manufacturers, line development, production processes and retail distribution will be invaluable when it comes to creating contracts. This is because, while the lawyer can create the contract, they don’t know what business decisions are right for you (the licensor) and your business partner (the licensee).

Let me repeat that: your lawyer can create a contract, but they can’t possibly know what business decisions are right for you and the manufacturer. And every contract has a significant part of it which requires art licensing business decisions, such as the royalty rate, advance, grant of rights, territory, length of the agreement, to name a few. These are the ‘terms’ that the licensor and licensee must ‘plug’ into the contract, and they should not (generally) be recommended by your lawyer.

So back to Rule #1 of our ’20 Rules for Starting Your Art Licensing Business’—learn as much as you can about the Art Licensing business, and I recommend getting advice from licensing experts, as well as colleagues, manufacturers and fellow artists who have experience in the business. But don’t expect a lawyer to give you advice on the business terms for your contract.








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