Last weekend I went to The Makers Summit, a business conference in Greenville, SC that encourages and inspires creative entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses. There were keynote speeches, workshops, panel discussions, parties, crafts, and scrumptious foodstuffs. I’m wistfully drooling just thinking about those big piles of soft pretzels with pimento cheese.
The best part for me was getting to meet other business owners and hear their stories. Running an online business can be alienating sometimes, and it’s awesome to know there are others out there doing what I do. I flipped through the notes I took at the conference, and I want to share a few little nuggets of wisdom I jotted down between doodles.
What you say “yes” to and what you say “no” to define who you become. Understand the dream you’re trying to pursue, and choose your “yes”s and “no”s accordingly. —(paraphrased) Jeff Shinabarger, Plywood People
This is a great reminder. It’s a struggle for me to focus on my goals for Wit & Whistle: to revel in creative freedom, to make work I’m proud of and have fun doing it, to maintain a healthy work/life balance, and to avoid unnecessary stress. I have to say “no” to a lot of opportunities to achieve these goals, and I have to constantly reassure myself that it’s okay not to strive for somebody else’s idea of success.
“A great product is the best marketing.” —Nathan Bond, Rifle Paper Co.
I’ve found this to be true! Every time I’ve paid for advertising it hasn’t been worth the money. So, I concentrate more on creating new and better products than on my marketing efforts. If you make high quality products that people like, they have a way of making their way around the internet eventually. It was pretty unanimous among everyone at the conference that having a strong presence on Instagram is one of the best ways to spread the word about your work. I’ve resolved to post more regularly over there.
“Creativity is earned wisdom that comes with effort, time, and failure.” —Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Creativity isn’t some mystical super power that only certain people are born with. It’s a muscle. You have to use it often to strengthen it and practice to get good at wielding it. I thought “effort, time, and failure” summed up the process perfectly.