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When to Adjust Your Goals In a Changing World


It occurred to me, while breathing into a bag considering the state of my small creative business, that some of the goals and objective I set out at the beginning of this year might not make sense any more. Obviously so much is changing, and there are still so many unknown variables, but if I am to have any hope at all of rebooting when this is all over. I need to have a plan. Right?

I guess I'm still a bit wary of making definitive statements like that, because it appears that so much of my business model may suddenly now be obsolete. Should I spend my time trying to rebuild a house that no longer has a foundation? I'm torn between rewriting my business plan and digging a bunker in the back yard. Will my marketing strategies be worth anything come the zombie apocalypse?

The only possible answer to that question is yes. It is worth it. It has to be. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons through all the confusion and fear surrounding the Covid-19 lockdown is that my business must survive. My creative career is not like a traditional brick and mortar that I can just lock up one day and hop a freight car to California. My business is personal. It's part of me. While there is no shame in having to close an unsuccessful shop, particularly when you have no control over the supporting economy and supply chain. It's unfortunate to shudder a Mom and Pop shop, but it's not personal. That's not the way a creative career works.

I don't mean to suggest that we don't have the same financial pressures and responsibility to be good business people, but if our shop fails, we go down with it. This is a true wakeup call for many of us creatives. More than ever, it is clear that we are the product we sell. We are our brand.

So yes, pull out those goals and objectives you worked so hard to craft, and move down the list. Determine which goals are still valid. In my case, all of my goals were still important to me, and viable, but my objectives needed to be totally reconsidered. For example, we had an objective to improve our networking efforts this year, and an action item under that objective was to host four public events. Um, that's not going to work now. Luckily we got one exhibition reception in before the doors closed, but it will be a while before people feel comfortable mingling with strangers at an opening.

Obviously though, with a tweak or two, that sort of objective can be moved online. And the other issues I encountered are all fixable as well. The real lesson for me though was the realization that no, the coronavirus has not destroyed my art business. It has only disrupted my two main income streams. In previous blog posts, we've already discussed the need to diversify income sources.

If anything, this public health scare has prompted me to add goals to my list. Perhaps I need to add a goal around risk assessment and preparedness. When I worked for big organizations, I often thought it wasteful to prepare for doomsday scenarios. When working in New Zealand, a neighboring city had a small fire in their main office, that was quickly extinguished with virtually no damage. The paneling inside the office however, emitted toxic fumes when heated, and the entire building had to be closed indefinitely for health reasons. All of the computer systems were housed in that building, as was payroll, HR, communications, and archives. No one could get inside to grab a file off their desk, to retrieve a cell phone, no one could access the server and update the website as to their open status, or to change the message on the answering machine. That was a wake up call for our community, just as this health crisis has been for us.

So take stock while you have some extra time. Make sure your goals still adequately represent your dreams, your needs, and the risks you face. Plan concrete steps to achieve those goals, so that when the zombies do come, we can all be ready.

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