The Right-Brain Business Plan

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Whether you're running a creative business, following your big dreams, or simply navigating your daily life, it can be tough going it alone. Having partners and allies can help lighten your load and make your journey even more enjoyable. But sometimes it can feel even harder to ask for help than to just do the work yourself.

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So how can you create a solid support structure in your personal and professional life?

Start with mindfulness. Become aware of what you want and need. When you're present to yourself, you can be present to other people. Mindfulness will facilitate healthier relationships and will create more ease and flow as you move toward your goals.

If you've ever felt burnt out, stuck, or resentful it's probably because you've been doing everything for other people without pausing to think whether it's what you really want to do, or if it even fits in with your bigger vision of your work and home life. Rather than operate on autopilot, practice mindfulness and learn to get support for your own hopes and dreams.

One stressed-out and overcommitted client yearned to reconnect with her creative spirit and find more meaningful work. She began by building a creative space in her bedroom to focus on her art. Next, she started asking her family, coworkers, and friends for help so that she could stay committed to her creativity. For example, she asked her business partner to handle a few tasks for their client. She asked her mom for help planning activities for the whole family to do together. She sought out mentors to teach her on her creative journey. It wasn't easy at first, but with practice, she's tuning into what's most important to her, she's communicating more clearly and directly with the people in her life, and she's feeling more fulfilled as she moves toward her own big dream.

Here are some simple, mindful ways to get support for your goals:

Begin with your relationship with yourself.

Carve out quiet time to reflect on what you want in life. What's most important to you? What would bring you joy and contentment? What do you want more of in your life? You could even create a collage to help you connect with that vision. Ask yourself what you need to do to make your vision real. Identify what you can do on your own and where you could use someone else's assistance.

Be clear about who would be the perfect person to help you with the things you can't do on your own.

If you already know whom to ask, great, go ahead and ask her. If not, ask yourself what are the types of qualities and experience does this person might possess? What is her working style? What are her values and how do they align with yours? Get out your journal and write about this perfect person as if you've already been working with her for a while. Describe what you enjoy most about your relationship.

Once you've identified what you need help with and who to ask, make a clear, direct request.

The more specific you are, the more likely you'll get the support you need. For example you might send a message out to your colleagues and ask, "Will you review my draft proposal and give me feedback on its scope and tone by June 1?" People will know exactly how to help you.

Know what you bring to the table.

What can you offer in return? How can you be of service to the other person? What resources, skills, experience, or connections can you share? Remember that relationships are give and take. Be generous but don't feel like you need to over accommodate.

Keep lines of communication open and make sure you give specific feedback to the person helping you.

Pay attention to what's really working in the relationship. For example, let your accountant know how much you appreciate his expert help with your taxes. Let him know what you love about working with him.

Be willing to have a tough conversation.

If your relationship hits a bump in the road, make sure you address the issue early on. Letting tension build will only make things more uncomfortable, especially if you have more work to do together. If things can't be resolved after talking it through, don't be afraid to move on. It may feel like an awkward "break up," but be willing to start looking again if it's not working out. Don't settle. You'll be much happier when you find the right person to help you.

Check in with yourself regularly.

Take three deep breaths and then ask yourself, "How am I right now? What do I need?" Your goals and needs may shift over time, so make adjustments accordingly.

By practicing these simple steps of mindfulness, you'll not only become clearer about where you are now and where you want to go, you'll also foster healthy relationships along the way. Your solid support structure will keep you moving toward your goals with ease as you deepen connections with yourself and others.

Next: Letter Lessons in Manifestation

Jennifer Lee on The New Creative Economy

Q: Why do we need to do business differently in the new creative economy and how can The Right-Brain Business Plan help?

A: The left-brain analytical skills that used to get people ahead in the knowledge economy are no longer enough. In the creative economy, right-brain skills like big picture thinking, play, emotional intelligence, and design help us innovate and give us a competitive advantage. The Right-Brain Business Plan helps creative entrepreneurs leverage their natural creative genius to succeed in the new economy. It invites business owners to think visually, to imagine and play, to connect emotionally with their company and customers, and to have fun making a living doing what they love.

Q: Why is it important for entrepreneurs to have a business plan?

A: A business plan is a roadmap that helps articulate the vision of where you want to go and the details of what it's going to take to get there. The Small Business Administration estimates that 50 percent of small businesses in America fail within their first five years. Lack of planning is often to blame. Not having a business plan is like driving without directions to an unknown destination.

Q: What are the top three things that stop creative types from doing a business plan?

First off, creative types and solopreneurs assume that business plans are only for large corporations or for those seeking funding. But since a business plan is a roadmap to success, even a one-person crafter operating out of her kitchen would benefit from having a clear plan. Secondly, creative types are often intimidated by the dry format of traditional business plans. The Right-Brain Business Plan, however, invites you to make your plan a work of art that inspires you. And lastly, creative types are usually too busy doing the work that they love that they don't pause and to plan. What they don't realize is that planning can actually be a very creative process that leverages their natural right-brain gifts.

Q: What is a Right-Brain Business Plan? And how is it different from a traditional business plan?

A: Typically business plans are boring. lengthy, written documents and financial reports that get placed in a binder and never looked at again. A Right-Brain Business Plan, on the other hand, is a visual, creative and fun work of art that provides constant inspiration and guidance. The Right-Brain Business Plan has the same basic building blocks as a traditional plan, but because we approach the planning through pictures, colors, emotion, and intuition, it's business planning for the rest of us. Some creative formats include a leather cuff bracelet, a paper plate mobile, and an altered children's picture book decorated with glitter and feathers.

From the book The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success. Copyright ©2011 by Jennifer Lee. Reprinted with permission of New World Library,

Letter Lessons in Manifestation
Big Business Visualization Script
Getting Support for Your Goals

Jennifer Lee, founder of Artizen Coaching, spent a decade climbing the corporate ladder before pursuing her own creative dreams. More

Q: You challenge the concept that a business plan has to be a stodgy, boring, traditional document. Why take a right-brain approach to business planning? What are the benefits?

A: Normally we think of business planning as a very left-brain activity that involves tons of research and analysis. When creative entrepreneurs start with a traditional left-brain approach they usually suffer from analysis paralysis. They get stuck because their left-brain is constantly questioning, judging, and wanting every little detail to make sense before taking that first step. When you approach the business planning with your right-brain first, you free your mind to see creative options, explore, and find patterns and purpose. You allow yourself to dream big and to connect emotionally with your vision. You create space for innovation to happen. You can always ask an expert about how to read a profit and loss statement, but you can only ask yourself about what matters most to you and your business.

Q: Creative entrepreneurs often feel challenged by the numbers and asking for money. What suggestions do you have for them to overcome these challenges?

A: First, become aware of your limiting beliefs and how those keep you stuck and confused. Next, keep in mind that financial planning can be more art than science since you have to do a lot of guesstimating about how much things will cost or how much money you'll make. Seek expert help by investing in a bookkeeper and accountant. And remember that once you start tracking your income and expenses, it will be easier to make sense of what's going on with your numbers. You can see trends and can make better decisions once you have a history to work from.

Q: Being an entrepreneur often means you're working on your own. What advice do you have for people to get support in their business?

A: Just because you work for yourself, doesn't mean you have to go it alone. One simple, no-cost way to get support in your business is to find an accountability buddy. This is someone you meet with regularly either in-person or on the phone to report progress, talk through issues, and celebrate successes. You might consider working with a mentor who can show you the ropes. I also suggest writing what I call a helping hands wish list. This is a list of all the things you need help with in your business. Use it to identify where you might want to hire some expert help like a graphic designer or bookkeeper. And finally, people won't know you need help unless you ask, so practice making clear requests.

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