Are You an “Oh, Crud” or “Carpe Diem” Entrepreneur?

11 11 2011

Proactive v. Reactive LeadershipIt’s the age-old story of an entrepreneur and a business idea falling in love. At first, it’s pure magic… customers are lining up to partake of your newness and ingenuity. Your sales drawer is bulging, your employees are enthusiastic and everyone wants to be a part of this “good thing”…

… Then the “honeymoon phase” ends, and one of two things happen:

  1. The rubber hits the road  – OR –
  2. The s**t hits the fan.

What decides the difference?

Proactive v. Reactive Leadership

There are, for all intents and purposes, two primary styles of entrepreneurial leadership. The first is the “Carpe Diem!” (Seize the Day!) approach. The second is the “Oh, Crud”.

Carpe Diem Entrepreneurs think ten steps ahead of their customers, their staff and their competition. They recognized pitfalls and make preemptive moves to avoid them. They recognize opportunities, and are among the first to take advantage of them. And most importantly, they are creative. They try new things – if it works, they run with it and, if it doesn’t, they make a course correction and keep on keepin’ on. They are proactive leaders.

Oh, Crud Entrepreneurs are the polar opposite. They tag along after their fellow business owners, copy-catting ideas half-heartedly. They fear innovation, because they’re never at the forefront. They only take action when they have no choice. And the only waves they make are little ones in the bathtub at home. They are reactive leaders.

You can readily imagine which style of business ownership survives AND THRIVES long term.

DMT Challenge of the Week

Think back over your entrepreneurial activities this past week. How many of them were launched from a spirit of adventure, and how many from frank necessity? What’s one “carpe diem” activity you can add to your roster for next week?

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”  ~ Steve Jobs

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site Copyright © DMT Artistry LLC. All rights reserved.





Putting a Paper Bag Over Your Head: The Importance of Good Design

8 09 2011

Bad design is like putting a bag over your headBusiness Number 1 is decked out in a magnificent tower of dramatically dazzling headgear.

Business Number 2 wears an equally stunning hat in more classically elegant lines.

Business Number 3 has a paper bag over its head.

1 and 2 are attracting all sorts of positive attention. 3 is hiding its light under generic grocery brown. What happened?

The difference is in the design.

As a small or start-up company, it’s easy to conclude that personally managing your own branding, online presence and print marketing will save you a bundle. Because it will… up front. But at what cost to your future?

The gift of the true entrepreneur is to think in terms of future value. And this is where a graphic designer can help.

Businesses 1 and 2 have recognized the value of working with a professional designer to create an image that draws eyes and interest. Their designer helped them build continuity across all marketing to make them memorable and instantly recognizable in a crowd. Their designer also helped them express the personality and culture of the business with unique marketing materials. Their ads visually and psychologically target the right audience. Their message comes across with clarity. Their branding suits both who they are now, and who they want to become.

In short, they’re wearing some pretty cool hats.

Business 3, on the other hand, presents generic marketing messages that are muddled and non-representative of the business. Its designs are unprofessional and make the business appear unprofessional by extension. There’s nothing particularly memorable about its ads. Its branding is non-existent.

For all intents and purposes, business 3 has pulled a paper bag over its head.

Understand, professional doesn’t mean cold or corporate. In fact, it takes ingenuity, expertise, enthusiasm and warmth to create marketing materials that intrigue, attract and build empathy and rapport.

Just as books are judged by their covers, business are judged daily by the marketing “hats” they wear. You hire professionals to prepare your business taxes, manage your legal contracts, replace the roofing, install your security system, ship your products and protect your profits. The all-important image of your business deserves the same professional treatment.

DMT Challenge of the Week
Look through your 2011 marketing materials – logos, ads, websites, posters, etc. Challenge yourself to view them from a potential customer’s perspective. What kind of message are you sending about your business, your level of professionalism and your expectation of success? Is there a consistent style across your materials?

Compare your marketing to your competitors’. Is yours distinguishable from theirs? Is your branding unique enough to not only be memorable, but to attract more attention, as well?

Now compare your marketing to a company in your field that’s at the level of success and profitability you ultimately want to achieve. How does yours measure up? Is your image holding you back, or driving you forward?

Ready to ditch the paper bag? DMT can design your business to the next level:

Dawn M Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com

All content on this site is Copyright © DMT Artistry LLC. All rights reserved.

 





Failure? What Failure?: Putting the Monster to Rest

2 03 2011

Fear of failure is the monster under the bed - it's all in our heads!I had a fascinating conversation with my twin brother, David, the other day. We were talking about his latest class topic: Failure.

David is a professor of entrepreneurship – teaching students how to think like leaders, creators and Masters of Their Own Destinies.

So it may seem a little odd that his recent classes were devoted entirely to “Failure”.

Entrepreneurs and business owners – can you tell me why a professor of entrepreneurship would dedicate precious class hours to the in-depth study of falling flat on your face?

You know it. Because fear of failure is the under-the-bed monster that stalks every entrepreneur and, all too frequently, makes a kill. Only, instead of causing bodily harm, this mental demon devours entrepreneurial spirits.

You can hardly be Master of Your Own Destiny when fear has you dancing on a puppet string.

Interestingly enough, many entrepreneurs who quietly disappear from the business world, shamed by their lack of success, actually DIDN’T FAIL AT ALL. They just forgot to define what success would look like TO THEMSELVES. When “success” is a nebulous cloud of vaguery, barring pure dumb luck, “failure” is guaranteed.

The point, as David is teaching his class, is to start with a flashlight in your hand. Illuminate all aspects of your business… monsters, as any kid can tell you, are scared off by light. Fear of failure, in particular, melts at the first glow of purpose and preparation.

If success for you is a dollar amount, what is that dollar amount? Are you looking for just enough to pay your bills? Do you want enough to buy a house on every continent? How much product or service do you need to sell to get there?

If success for you is about opening up more personal time, how much time do you want? What level of income do you need to comfortably take that time? How many employees do you need to help you?

If success for you is about working in your slippers, or setting your own schedule, or turning your clients into friends, or writing your own paycheck, or just plain bragging rights – who is society to judge? Your definition of success is the one definition that matters; it’s the one definition that will legitimately motivate YOU.

So before you write off a business move as a total flop, go back and determine whether you started with the right definition of success. You may be more of a success than you ever knew.

Class dismissed!

“And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.”  ~Dr. Seuss

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





Why Curiosity Will Save Your Business: Part 1 of 2

14 07 2010

We all know the story of Adam and Eve, right, and how curiosity got them booted out of paradise?

Curiosity in action: Pandora's BoxAnd what about Greek mythology’s Pandora, opening that box of trouble out of sheer curiosity?

Ever heard the saying, “curiosity killed the cat”?

I’m sure you’re noticing a theme here. Historically, religiously, culturally, there have been a slew of cautionary tales that specifically target the very human desire to KNOW, even at the risk of disobedience.

And, in a very real sense, this lesson was an important one. You didn’t want to be the primeval version of a Darwin’s Award nominee, snuffing out your existence doing something stupid, like testing how long you could hold your breath under lava or experimenting with fine poisonous berry dining.

But, for better or for worse, you may as well post a photo of homo sapien sapiens next to the dictionary entry for “curiosity” because that’s what we are… curious.

These days, having centuries more experience (and back-up plans) under our collective belts, curiosity has become a quality we celebrate in our children, in our scientists, in our entrepreneurs, in our artists, in our marketers, in our engineers, in our… well, you get the picture. And if you want your business to survive and thrive, you’re going to have to cut loose with your curiosity, too!

In next week’s post, we’ll have fun looking at all sorts of ways to put that curiosity to good use.

Until then, I invite you to reflect back over the past couple work days on just how many times you’ve asked yourself, “What would happen if I… ?”, and then acted on it. This is how businesses are born, and built into empires!

Curious about what DMT Artistry, LLC can do for your business? Contact me to find out!

Dawn M. Tomczyk  |  DMT Artistry, LLC  |  810.923.4582  |  dawn@dmtartistry.com





It’s your life… it’s your move

30 03 2010

I’m going to drop my guard for a moment, and share something personal. Many years ago, when I first launched DMT Artistry, my business was fine-arts-by-commission: pet portraits, home renderings. I am not lacking in artistic talent, and everyone anticipated my success. Everyone – and I don’t often admit this – except me.

Aesthetics is my core, but – and there are friends and family who may swoon when they read this – fine arts just wasn’t the ultimate outlet to set me alight with ideas and energy.

When DMT Artistry made a grand shift into graphic design and marketing, the tables turned. I’ve been aflame with ideas and enthusiasm from the moment I incorporated.

My cheerleaders, however, were, shall we say, skeptical of my chance for survival. Wouldn’t I have to work for a large design firm to make a name for myself? Don’t I need to own a cool quarter million in software and equipment? Isn’t it a tough market to break into? What other job(s) would I take to keep myself afloat?

Concern appreciated and duly noted. My answer:

No design firm can make a better name for me than I can for myself by simply and unfailingly upholding my personal quality and ethical standards.

My most valuable business assets are my creativity, my artistic eye, my personality and my intellect… all invaluable, all foundational, and all part of the package.

It’s an easy market to break into if you consistently produce stellar work, and even easier if you begin locally with the friends and fellow business owners who are 100% behind a thriving, mutually-beneficial and local entrepreneurship.

I began this business with the expectation of success and independence, and that’s exactly what I’ve earned. “Other jobs” are not part of the equation.

Adidas sums it up for me with their “Impossible is Nothing” campaign:
"Impossible is Nothing" - Adidas

I dedicate this post to the clients, friends, family and acquaintance who are in the process of “making their move”. What’s yours?

(And for anyone who’s curious, colored pencils are for more than just marking up mom and dad’s walls: www.dmtartistry.com.)