My business cards have arrived!

December 13, 2009 1 comment

So, I am excited to say that yesterday the good old USPS delivered my new cards. This is very exciting for me as I am a visual person (surprise!) and having these in my hands really makes me want to give them out. Below is the design. They are 2-sided mini-cards that I ordered through MOO, an online store that offers great choice and flexibility at good prices. I would definitely recommend them. I ordered a variety of colors, purple is my favorite color…  Anyway, this post is admittedly short, but i have a ton of work to do today.

PS: Hey Technorati,  Here’s the code you needed!   BHRPD8RGPS5P

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TG (tomorrow) IF.

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

I think the hardest part about this process so far is getting stuff done during the week. I work full-time, and during the week I come home and start working through my gallery-slash-consulting business to-do list. The list is long, and I actually enjoy all the prep part – which I am taking as a good sign that I am not dissuaded by the amount of planning. And I’ve had a lot of positive news and a lot of random people already helping me along the way. All this and I haven’t really gone public with my plan yet.

But it’s a lot of work. And by Thursday night I am tired. My full-time job is taxing on the mind and spirit, and a big part of the driving force behind me finally finding the guts to do this. It has taken a lot out of me for the last three years. Bit I refuse to let it hold me back for one day longer. So I come home and I go through articles, I work on my many spreadsheets and word docs that I have set a goal to finish by the end of the year. I read, and read, and read. Read up on business articles, entrepreneurial articles, the art and retail markets, small business and local business stories. You name it, I’ll read it.

And I’m writing.

I’m writing here. I’m writing my business plan, my branding and positioning documents. And I love doing it.

But I’m tired.

I used to look forward to the weekends to sleep late, to shop, to putter, to visit friends, to do whatever. Now I can’t wait to get to the weekend so I can spend focused time on this. To do real life research. Visit galleries, talk to people, check out locations. OK, and maybe sleep a little late… Old habits do die-hard after all.

As an optimist at heart, I always look for the flip side of a tough situation. And the flip side of this one is that I will use the tired feeling to drive me to a place that will free me up to focus more on getting to where I want to be – free to pursue this dream full-time. I have a lot to look forward to. My new business cards are coming next week, I have a good deal of vacation time saved up so I will use that to take a break and recharge (and work on the plan!). And the fact that I am sitting here, falling asleep at 8:45 on a Thursday night, yet still pounding away and not being able to wait until the time is right for me to go public with the plan is the good news. I am in this for real.

And nothing is going to stop me. Not this time.

And TG (tomorrow) IF.

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Excellent News!

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Part of the driving force through this process, and through my life, really, is the fact that I have learned to trust my intuition. It’s had my back my whole life, and when I don’t listen to it, I usually regret it.

Although the scariest part of this process, so far at least, has been the idea of opening a store that sells stuff people certainly don’t need in the economy.

I saw this article today in the Courier-Post, my local paper, and once again, heard good news.

Now I live in one of the towns that this paper talks about, so I am pretty aware of the redevelopment going on in the area. BUT, the fact that this article appeared just as I am beginning to look at open properties, and am beginning to talk to retail owners, well that my friends, I am taking as another sign that this is really meant to be.

It’s just enforcing more and more that I really thing I’ve finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up, but am already grown up enough to truly make it happen.

Haddon Township (my town) slideshow.

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More good times.

December 5, 2009 Leave a comment

So for the past month or so, I’ve been spending all my free time working on this project. In my last post I mentioned how things start happening when you open yourself up to them. As it turns out, today offered more proof to that concept. As I’m trying to get out there more and more to start checking out local shows and artists whose work I may ultimately want to show in the gallery, the more people I meet. Because I am a classic introvert, and tend to keep everything in my head (especially when working on an idea or in full-on observation mode), I sometimes need to be very conscious to actually talk to people and engage with them. Not because I’m shy, but because I am usually too busy thinking about and processing all that is going on around me.

Right  now, I have a list of events that I’ll be going to (and writing about here) that I think will help me on my quest and start to broaden my circle. Today I went to the Crafty Balboa craft fair in Philly and had a great time. Bought a few things, found a couple artists that I will keep in mind for the future. Two introductions in particular were surprising and exciting.

The first one was to an artist whose work I had previously seen on, and the other a fellow gallery owner and entrepreneur who I had stumbled upon on Facebook.

With the artist, of course I was looking at the work, and not at her… but when I reminded myself to engage with the actual person, I saw the sign hanging behind her and I recognized her name. I chatted with her for a while and would up buying something too. Told her that I had just bookmarked her site on etsy and that I really liked her work. Then I took her card and filed it in my “keep for the future” pile. I now have a face and a real person to put with the name and the bookmarked page, and she has a face to the person who bought “Imaginary Friend” (below).

The second time, and funnily situated right next to Jen, was a collection of different pieces obviously done by different people. I asked the woman behind the table if she was the artist or if she was representing them. I then saw the name of the gallery and immediately recognized the name as one of the Facebook pages I recently became a fan of. We chatted for a while, and I told her that I knew who they were, and then went on to essentially invite myself to pick her brain some time. And guess what? She said yes, like every other person I’ve opened up to a little. It’s really a great lesson to learn.

Like I said, more good times. And tomorrow is the 915 Artist Studio Tour. More good times to come!

Jen McLeary
the art is not dead

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Fired Up.

December 2, 2009 1 comment

Earlier tonight I went to a seminar at my local library that was called “How to Run a Small Business without it Running You”.  It was run by a woman who calls herself  a reformed lawyer. She now does business seminars and life coaching.

Now I know that “life coach” may sound new-agey and all that, but she really hit on a number of nerves for me. The most striking thing she said to me, after I told her my fear was not that I was going to fail, or that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or creative enough to start a business and have is succeed, but was that I was planning to open a business in this rough economy and losing all my money and my house in the process. What she told me was one of the best things I’ve ever heard and has fired me up beyond belief.

“Businesses fail even when the economy is good.”

Eight words. One for each of the letters in my name. How’s that for self-esteem? Oh, I’m just joking…

“Businesses fail even when the economy is good.”

She then expounded upon that by asking how to turn the situation around, and use that uncertainly be used to my advantage? There’s gotta be a way to do that. And I will find it.

By the end of the night, I had some feedback on my approach to my business plan, a homework assignment to categorize every single one of my contacts in to focused groups, and made a contact with a business owner who runs a store in one of the areas that I am looking to locate in. She offered to introduce me to one of the gallery owners in the area who might be able to help me.

It’s amazing how things start happening when you actually open yourself up to them. Simply and astoundingly amazing.

And now I’m more fired up than I ever have been about this!

Twitter is the most used word of 2009?

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Part of my journey to business ownership is the fact that I am doing a ton of research. Research on the art business, real estate, legal stuff, build-outs, the gallery business… The list goes on and on. And on.

Since I was a kid, I would read anything and everything, and this research piece that I am working on has led me down some interesting paths.

I came across this article today about how Twitter was named the most-used word of 2009 and it struck me as odd. Now, the article didn’t offer much in the way of methodology, although I admittedly didn’t dig any deeper (ah, how Twitter-ish of me) than the short report, but the concept was interesting to me.

To have the most used word of 2009 be a website/service/social media tool that consists of sending messages of 140 characters or less is somehow contradictory and somehow seems to be diametrically opposed to one another. And because of that contradiction, is inherently interesting to me.

Twitter clearly has also become the next web service to be verbified. And you can’t force that, that’s for sure. Bing, Microsoft’s newish search engine that has taken on Google, ran commercials over the summer (or maybe I just read it somewhere, I just Googled it, but couldn’t find what I was looking for, but found this) spouting about how they wanted Bing to become the next verbified web phenomenon. What Mr. G needs to realize is that you can’t force verbification. It’s like telling everyone you know how cool you are. Others have to decide that. You can’t just call yourself cool and be done with it.

So all this rambling is going somewhere I think. It’s bringing me back to the reams  of research I still have ahead of me. It also reminds me that in certain parts of this giant puzzle I am trying to put together, I do know what I am doing. My idea for the gallery is strong, and I am pretty confident about the branding part of it. I think the concept is strong and marketable.

And it’s all mine to make or break. Now excuse me, I have some tweets to get out.

So, I must know what I am talking about because Guy Kawasaki just posted this story too! But I did officially beat him to the punch!

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Hard at work.

November 29, 2009 Leave a comment

I am by nature a very curious person. I am also by nature someone who is really good with breaking down complex problems or challenges into little pieces to solve one at a time. I also am someone who tends to overthink, go too deep and never stop looking for information on a subject that I become interested in. I’m also the type of person who, once something is solved or conquered, loses interest quickly. This all has its pros and cons.

I’ve come up with a lot of ideas for businesses. Some I’ve even tested out to varying degrees of success. Invariably, I’ve lost interest for one reason or another. There are two (well, maybe three) that I put on the back burner sheerly for lack of time to devote to them. They are still there, beckoning.

This idea though, is different. This is starting to take on a life of its own and is somehow unfolding before my eyes.

I see the gallery, I see me working with the artists, I see my exhibition calendar coming to life. I see me turning this idea into reality.

But what I see before me is an enormous amount of work. Research, business plans, meeting with accountants and then lawyers. Real estate agents, planning, planning, reading, reading, and then some more research. Every move I make that gets me deeper into the planning, opens up a whole new list of things to do to get me ready.

I’ve been working for two days just to get a handle on what goes into a business plan, let alone the writing of it. The financial reporting that must go into it is extremely daunting. Cash flow documents, P+L statements, pricing strategy, 3-year sales projections, balance sheets. O.M.G.

The marketing part of it comes easy to me. I guess that is how it goes for a lot of people. One part comes easier than the other. The financial part scares the crap out of me, and will probably be the most challenging. I’ve set a goal for myself to have a lot of pieces complete by the end of the year. The business plan being the major one. One spreadsheet at a time…

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