January 2018

Sometimes, it is hard to come up with topics for a blog post.  Other times, life just puts inspiration down in front of you.  Last week, that inspiration came in the form of our mail carrier, when I came home to this:

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Every detail of how you do your job reflects on you and your business (or the company you work for).  We spend so much time talking about company culture and how a business makes people feel – the personal connection that keeps people coming back again and again – but how often do we consider it in regards to the people we encounter regularly?

You don’t have to be the business owner, or an employee at a multi-million dollar retail corporation, to be an important reflection of a company.  Sure the CEO may be most visible, and therefore his or her public actions are important, but it is the day to day roles that have the most impact and are the most outward facing.

When I see something like this delivery, I feel like the employee doesn’t recognize the importance of their role. The labelling is so obvious, and so clearly disregarded.  As a client, it may make someone doubt the service.  They delivered the package – but they didn’t go the extra mile to make sure it was delivered well.

How can we combat this sort of apathy in business?  Sure, the mail carrier is meant to deliver packages – but rather than “delivering a package,” can we reframe it as “delivering joy”? Suddenly the act of delivery is important – and personal. The mail carrier feels important and empowered, and takes a little more pride in what he or she does.

This simple act served as a reminder to me that while a design as a whole is important, so are the details of the design. By paying attention and delivering work right the first time, I say to my clients “You are important. I care.”

How do you go the extra mile for your clients?  Does your work reflect your company is a positive light?

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You will hear a lot of designers talking about fear of the blank page – the idea that the hardest part is simply starting.  I don’t usually have trouble with that – but after a few years of freelancing, I’ve decided my “blank page” is January.

To many people, January is a clean slate – an opportunity to start fresh and plan a new strategy for the year.  It is exciting and exhilarating.

For me, January is one of the hardest months to power through.

While it is true that it is a fresh start, there is something undeniably nerve-racking about knowing we’ve started a new fiscal year. In December, we celebrate achieving our financial and business goals, but in January, the counter resets to 0.

Also, for many businesses, myself included, January is a slow time. Everyone is getting back from their holiday break, and getting back into the swing of things. So while instant gratification would be comforting, the reality is, we’re more likely to see slow but steady growth.

Add to all that the chilling cold that forces us indoors, and you have a recipe for some serious over-thinking.

So, what can we do to stop the January blues from setting in when fear gets the better of us?

Work on personal projects.

Use January as a time to work on marketing efforts, websites and other personal business projects that become second priority when work is busy. If you can get a stockpile of content together, it will be ready to roll out when things DO pick up again. In addition, if you keep your mind busy, you have less time to worry.

Make connections.

Arrange lunches and happy hours, touch base with current and former clients, and basically, make yourself visible. Not only does staying busy and interacting help your day-to-day attitude, but it also ensures that if a project opportunity does surface, you will be top of mind.

Reframe your mindset.

For tax purposes, your fiscal year may be January 1 – but maybe it would help to reframe it in your mind as July 1. This will allow you to see 6 months of successful income already in play in January. While nothing ACTUALLY changes, reframing your mindset may help to combat the anxiety that a blank slate can cause.

How do YOU combat “blank page” anxiety?