Many years ago, I was involved in a high leveled art program. Everyone who was apart of the program was given their own studio, freedom to structure their workflow and access to anything from a photography dark room (Yes, it was that long ago) to oil paints.
However, there was part of the program that was structured. It was the requirement to produce something that they called ‘Experimental Studio Research’ (ESR). This wasn’t the perfectly polished framed painting that you may think your mentors want to see – no. This was the process. The work that brought you to that finished piece. The samples of palettes that didn’t work. The sketches that never produced a finished product.
At first, I almost had to force myself to experiment because I was usually quite certain of how I wanted to work. But I learned valuable lessons by committing to ESR, and it is something that I have taken into every business I have been apart of.
The lessons translate to business so well because as we all know – there are no guarantees and it is inevitable that some things will work better than others. For the purposes of this article – the ‘Studio’ can refer to your industry and the ‘experiments’ are considered strategies that you implement and programs, products and services you offer.
For example, let’s use the coaching industry. You may try offering one-to-one intensive retreats for the first time instead of your 3-month group packages. You have never marketed such high priced service so you expand to advertising in high-end print magazines instead of investing in just Facebook ads. After two months you haven’t gotten any sales of your retreat but have gotten 25 phone calls about your 3-month packages and requests for year-long programs. Taking the risk (experimenting) with a different marketing approach didn’t get the desired results, but there was unexpected benefits. The results of the ‘research’ of trying a different approach then led to business growth by finding the coach’s clients and what their needs are.
As you can see in the example – one important lesson is that: effort in one direction may actually benefit you in another area that you don’t necessarily expect. The key is to be open to the findings of the ‘research’ and less focused on the unexpected turns that will inevitably come.
Another lesson I applied through this concept is that the ‘process’ is valuable too. You may not only get unexpected business growth, but you may find unexpected skills and interests of your own that you can apply to the future of your business. For example, the coach we talked about before may have found out that she really loved the long-term relationship that she was able to develop over a year’s worth of services.
The value of perceiving things this way is that you can really avoid the ‘failure’ mindset. If everything you do is used to inform your next decision (Ie: NO one bought that program, or I got 400 new sign ups with the newest opt-in), it is all valuable. Knowing what didn’t ‘work’ is just as important as knowing what does.
I hope that reading this you have considered how your ‘experiments’ within your industry can still contribute to the success and growth of your business, even if you ended up not proceeding the way you originally thought.
Tamara is the Founder and Creative Director of Sweet Clover Studios. Where she provides resources, planners, learning opportunities and inspiration for other creative small business owners. You can also see her personal gallery of products as a surface pattern designer at http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com