In case you’ve been living under a rock for a while, the economy is a mess.  There, I said it.  Some might say I shouldn’t say it, I do my best “not to participate” but the reality is, things are in flux.  Stores are closing, the news (when I dare to turn in on) is bleak.  Watch too much and you could believe that unemployment will reach 100% and the end of the world is near…  but that would be some serious “doom and gloom” thinking.

I try to find and focus on the silver lining, keeping an optimistic outlook and figuring out how to weather the storm – whatever that storm may be.  These days, it’s an uncertain economy.

This is a question that was posed to me for the last Ask Tara Reed call:  With all of the discussion of companies that license art going out of business – how do you think we can go into the upcoming shows (Surtex/Licensing Show) as well as just continuing to pursue licensing with a positive attitude??? It’s been an uphill battle to get where I am now, so any words of encouragement would be welcome!!!

Yes, some companies are going out of business. Yes, royalty checks,  seem a bit leaner than in years past.  It is not a time for the faint of heart.

That said, there is still opportunity out there.  It just might not be flagging you down on the highway.  You may need to turn over a few rocks.  Get a little dirty.  And guess what?  Not everyone is willing to get dirty.  They might mess up their manicure.

Here are 5 things I keep in mind to keep my attitude and optimism up because frankly, I don’t like the alternative.

  1. Everyone can’t go out of business. As long as there are people on this planet, they will need stuff and they will need services.  They will also want some pretty stuff with our art on it.  Figure out who is going to make that stuff and make friends with them!
  2. If you make your business a lean, mean, art creating machine, you will be poised to THRIVE when things start to improve. Watch your expenses and where you spend your time and energy closely — the key is to be innovative and stay in business!  Would learning new skills make you more competitive?  Can you make 2 more calls a week or a day, staying connected or making new connections?  They add up and could lead to new business.
  3. If you find yourself feeling despondent, turn off the news and get on Twitter. Seriously.  I was talking to @SparkyFirePants about this one day — it is a positive place filled with entrepreneurs who are taking action, sharing and having fun.  (And if you happen to follow someone who prefers doom and gloom– unfollow them immediately!)  The attitudes of the people you interact with will affect you.  If you want to feel positive, don’t hang out with people who will constantly try to convince you that the sky is falling.
  4. Set realistic expectations. If you go to a trade show this year expecting the aisles to be packed and bidding wars over your art to ensue, you will probably walk away unhappy.  I’ve been to 4 different trade shows and the ‘buzz’ has been the same at every one:  fewer people but the people that show up are serious.  Even if stores are buying less than they did a few years ago, they still need new.  Customers aren’t happy going into stores and seeing the same stuff on the shelves all the time.  So there is a need for new art.  As one manufacturer recently told me, “A large chain that may have placed $100,000 orders 2 or 3 years ago are now buying $60,000 — but they still want new designs to choose from”.  The work is there, you just need more of it to make the same amount of money.  Go expecting to meet manufacturers who are stressed as well — if you can give them what they need to get a deal, you will be their ‘go to artist’ in tough times (now) and good times (hopefully soon!)
  5. Un-plug. (note to self… I have a hard time with this one sometimes!)  Give yourself permission to be happy, laugh, have fun.  Read a funny book (I highly recommend Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich — I laughed out loud, cried and now I want a monkey for a pet), watch a movie (an uplifting one, not one that will bring you down!), go for a walk, have lunch with a friend.

I plan to still be in business and smiling when the economy turns, do you?  Here is a little video to keep you inspired.  Keep the faith!  ~ Tara

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