It’s Not You. It’s your Support Network.

Graphic design

When a creative block kicks in and you feel stuck, overwhelmed and unmotivated, it is easy to isolate yourself. This is especially easy to do if you work alone. Your thoughts are “I need to focus more, work harder and avoid all distractions until I get this done.” But that thought process is more likely to send your stress levels through the roof and not clear up your creative block.

It is often forgotten that the best way to make it through these testing times is to reach out to others. But what if you don’t have a support network in place?

It can seem intimidating to even begin to think about building a network, especially when there are critical deadlines to meet. I’ve created a guide to soften the blow and help with the process. Start with one or two and over time it becomes easier to integrate more supporters into the mix, as you need them.

Assistants and Juniors

Why have them:

They act as stabilisers by helping you keep life in order when it is crunch time. They can increase your productivity by taking care of items you find frustrating, tedious or simply don’t enjoy doing.

Where to find them:

Get a referral, search online channels like theloop: http://www.theloop.com.au/ or gumtree: http://www.gumtree.com.au/. Another alternative is to look to your personal network. You may find this support from friends, neighbours or even family members. Keep in mind you want someone who has the time, good work ethics and the ability to do what you need done.

How to build the relationship:

Set clear and realistic expectations and define exactly what you need them to do. Decide on the frequency that you need them to work and structure an arrangement accordingly. For instance you may hire someone by the hour and on a project-by-project basis. Or you may decide to pay them a weekly or monthly fee for keeping up on certain routine activities.

Peers

Why have them:

These individuals act as travelling companions on your creative, entrepreneurial journey. You understand one another and can exchange empathy, feedback, ideas and resources for projects.

Where to find them:

Start by contacting people who you have lost touch with, but in the past shared mutual professional interests. These might be peers you studied with at university or Tafe, even ex-colleagues. Then turn to your current workplace and routine, where do you shop for supplies, where do your “type of people” mingle, such as industry or networking events.

How to build the relationship:

Join or establish a group that meets on regular basis and make a promise to yourself to show up. If touching base with an old contact, make sure there is the understanding that the meet-ups are a two way street for peer support.

Teachers

Why have them:

You may be able to reach out to an expert in your field who will be able to provide you with invaluable insight into your creative endeavour. If there is no such figure in your life you can take on trainers, advisors, coaches and consultants. Fundamentally, these people help take your vision to the next level by educating you in fields that are not your core strength.

Where to find them:

You want to find a mentor with the knowledge you seek and with a style that resonates with you. To discover who is the right fit, look to blog sites that inspire you and attend industry related meet-ups or conferences, introduce yourself and see if there is chemistry with a potential mentor.

How to build the relationship:

In some instances, you will have the opportunity to enrol in a formal program that will naturally move the relationship forward with your teacher. But with informal mentors, you’ll need to be more strategic. When you first make contact, arrange an initial meeting and specify you are looking for a mentor. If they agree to meet and the conversation goes well, ask if you can keep in touch. When following up your next meeting define the goal of your next conversations, so everyone has the same expectations and can decide if the following meet up is necessary. This conversation is pivotal in saving time for both parties.

 

The proper support at all levels is an essential component for unleashing your creative genius.


Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

CEO at Belgrin

Attitude isn’t everything. But it sure helps. Maria certainly wouldn’t have become a CEO of a full-service creative marketing agency without it. She started out in the industry 15 years ago and has done so well because she offers the perfect blend of design, PR and social media. Her aim? Her aim? To make marketing easy, so you can spend your time on more important stuff.

Belgrin

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Phil Khor

Phil Khor , Founder at SavvySME

Great article, I think support network is so critical as time-poor business owners, and it extends to virtually every aspect of our business, not just creativity. Thanks for sharing Maria.

Neil Steggall

Neil Steggall , Partner at Wardour Capital Partners

A very relevant article especially as so many people are moving into solo businesses or working from home. A support network should never be underestimated, the benefits of a strong network reach into every corner of our business and life. Food for thought here!

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