blog_5 ways celebration

5 ways to make this celebratory season a booster for your creative new year

Sinterklaas, Santa Claus, New Years Eve. There it is again. The festive season. Love it or hate it. It’s happening anyways. So it might be a good idea to take a moment and think about how you can turn this season into a booster for a creative new year. Worth trying, right?
Don’t keep postponing celebration until you feel you have achieved ‘enough’.
No, do it wherever you are now. So you can start to experience the benefits.
How? Read the 5 ways to celebrate and decide what would work for you at this moment.

1. Openly enjoy the applause
Performers rehearse in advance how they will receive the applause. How to bow, smile, hold hands or not. Because receiving applause gives them what they need to keep on going in good spirits. So maybe this is a good practice for you too. How can you openly receive and enjoy appreciation? (“Nice dress!” “Yes, I love it too, thanks”)

2. Enhance the celebratory moments in your community
Every organization or community has moments for celebrating. The most famous ones are the Friday-afternoon-drinks, Christmas or anniversaries. Great, nothing wrong with that! But most of these are so habitual that they lose their meaning and so miss the effect. How can you make these festivities into moments of receiving and appreciation? A well-prepared speech or some spontaneous storytelling can already make the difference.

3. Letting others share in your success
…so you can multiply it and enjoy it even more. Maybe you’d like to organize something extra for your favorite clients, give some free stuff away or support another entrepreneur.

4. See people enjoying the fruits of your work
The actor has his audience right in front of him and can’t get around them. But a lot of entrepreneurs hardly see their clients (and especially not the happy ones). So sometimes you need to actively connect with them. Even just sending out a feedback form will do. Or organizing a client event, doing a tour to visit some in their natural habitats or making a mini-documentary. Sounds like fun.

5. Applause for others you appreciate
Last, but not least… Give what you want to receive. Do you give appreciation to the people that inspire or help you? No? Write your favorite author an email, leave a stunning review at that great webshop or retweet that line that makes your day.
So. What tiny thing can you do this celebration season to receive and appreciate what is creating great things for you in the new year?

blog gold

From Rushing For Gold to Releasing Your Gold

Can you feel the gold rush in the air? A rush for finding a golden business idea?
In 1848 a man named James Marshall found gold in California. That was the start of the big Gold Rush. Whole tribes moved over land and sea to settle in that beautiful but rough landscape. It must have been tough work with a lot of sacrifice but well worth the effort. The ones who made it would be able to create a much better life.
It was literally a rush. More and more people were finding gold. The stock decreased every moment. So it made sense to be hasty and on top of it.

You feel the rush too.

It’s not about gold anymore in a literal sense. It’s about finding THE golden business idea or THE golden business partner. Quick. Decide. Go for it. Don’t miss out.

Does this rush actually make sense?

We’re not talking about a limited resource here, right? So where is the sense of urgency coming from and is there a way out?
If you suffer from the rush, then you’re probably looking for the gold outside of yourself. As if some idea, product, client or partner out there will make it happen for you.

But if you know the gold is inside of you…

then you know you can’t lose it — you can’t be too late or miss out, either. What a relief! The gold inside of you is the unique bundle of talents, knowledge, ideas and passions that only you have. Your bundle might be hidden somewhere deep inside of you. Maybe it’s undeveloped, unused or ignored. But it can’t go away or be taken away from you. Ever. So take a deep breath and relax.

You might be thinking that this ‘gold within’ doesn’t feed me, pay my rent, or buy winter jackets for my children.

True. Inner work takes time. And it might be as tough as mining for gold. You’ll have to start doing what you most enjoy without knowing where it will bring you or if you’ll get anything back for it. But soon you’ll find a way to monetize it.

Soon, or ….late. Like 30 (!) years.
Let’s take a look at author Steven Pressfield’s story. He wrote for around 30 years without any noteworthy success. He just sat down, wrote and did everything he could to become a better writer. He earned a bit of money with odd jobs, like fruit picking in the summertime. Once he even managed to sell a screenplay (that stayed unused). If he had saved some money, he would fully commit to writing again. Imagine, all those 30 years doing just that. Why didn’t he quit? He just enjoyed writing. Even when he experienced defeat, inner struggle, and the resistance against it. On top of that he got to improve his writing skills, meet great people, and learn a lot about publishing novels. And luckily, this is an American story. He published a bestselling novel. The first of a range bestsellers.
An American Dream? Maybe. But think about it. It actually makes sense. It takes time to develop your skills and turn them into something of use. This happens while you’re working, processing, and following through. Not while you’re searching for a golden business idea.

So, yes, let’s do it.
Start digging for the gold, polish it, and release it.
Make that impact the world needs and loves to reward you for.

blog_plaatje_stay firm keep on track

Stay Firm So You Can Be Flexible

So you found your flame and stirred up the fire. This helped you to take the leap. What’s needed to keep on track? Starting a business is challenging enough and one of the biggest challenges of all is the battle with overwhelm during the journey.

Nowadays you can do a lot with just a tiny budget. It doesn’t matter if you create bicycles, cupcakes or books. Do you need a web shop to be accessible for your favourite type of customers? Just Google it and learn to do-it-yourself. Do you need a platform to host and promote your online course? Just pick one out of the many options. Do you need a business partner? Just put it out on the web, and thousands will come along.

So why is it that sometimes you thrive in this world full of possibilities, and at other moments you feel like Bambi in headlights?

You probably grew up in an environment where you were taught what to do and when to do it. It was clear to you what the reward or risk was. First your parents, then your teachers and eventually your employers provided this structure for you. This had a function. In a certain way it helped you to engage in society. And it kept you from spreading food on your face or screaming out loud when somebody took your toy (at least, in most cases).

Now as an entrepreneur and grown up you suddenly have all this freedom. Nobody tells you what to do or what’s right or wrong. What a joy! But this can also be overwhelming at times. And you’re not necessarily very well prepared to make your own choices and follow your intuition, every minute of the day.

Let’s see what we can learn from traveling. Maybe you’re just back from a trip and it’s fresh in your mind.

What does this have to do with entrepreneurship? What’s similar?
A journey, unless it’s all-inclusive and organized by your parents-in-law, is a short period in which you have to handle an empty agenda and making choices every moment of the day.

So what creates the conditions for some people to thrive during such a trip and others to stumble? Many things of course. But you can say the following 3 factors are very supportive of a good trip:

At first: know where you want to go. Pinpoint at least a few places you truly want to visit. Otherwise you keep on going where others direct you. And plan it loose enough so you can discover a few unexpected nice places and wander around.

Secondly: know what you really enjoy doing (so not per se what others like to do). This might be any of the following: learning something new, having good conversations, reading books or…whatever. And make sure those things are in the program somewhere. So you are encouraged enough to keep going in the inevitable not so nice moments… like the long drives, waiting in lines at the airport or rainy days.

And thirdly: know what the basic conditions for you are to be fit, so you can enjoy. This might be eating healthy food, sleeping enough, going for a run in the morning…in short; the things you easily forget during an exciting journey. Even when you know you’ll get obstinate and grumpy after a while of not doing it.

You could say these 3 factors build a solid foundation. That makes you steady so you can be flexible, open and spot opportunities. These are also very fitting tenets for you as an entrepreneur.
What if you apply these factors to the way you run your business? Do you know where you want to go, what you truly enjoy and what the basic conditions are for you to stay fit?


What Illogical Activities Will Get You Going?

*and what’s Jack got to do with it?*

This is a true story about my good friend, let’s call him hmmm… Jack. About two years ago Jack worked as an Engineer at a Multinational company. Everything was fine and nothing was wrong. But, and this might sound familiar to you, he actually wanted to be an entrepreneur. He wanted to do something that had him feeling like, “this is the right thing for me.”

Every month he had a new crazy high potential business idea. From a postal shaving knife service to an interface design agency to building a boat with a Jacuzzi for cruising the Amsterdam Canals, he came up with it all. So why didn’t he execute on any of those ideas? Why did he feel defeated after not executing those ideas? And what did he do to get to a place where he now runs a full time business that fits him like a glove?

This is exactly what we’re going to talk about.

For a long time Jack was looking for that one golden business idea that would give him the push to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
But that’s not how it went. The more great business ideas came and went, the more he lost his appetite. The thing is, every time you don’t take action on your enthusiasm, you loose a bit of your fire. Not only that, a golden idea isn’t always a golden idea for you to realize.
So the solution lies in building a habit of taking small actions fueled by your enthusiasm, combined with finding a golden business idea for you.

What Jack did can also work for you.
He started to follow his enthusiasm, by taking the tiniest actions, without having a clue where it would bring him. Which, in the end, brought him exactly where he wanted to be.

This is what he did.

He started with programming smart graphs in IGoogle a couple of evenings a week. In a weekend he turned an old bookcase into a balcony vegetable garden. He spent two weeks vacation building a CNC cutter in an old shed that belonged to his uncle… Do you see the logical sequence? …The secret is… there isn’t any.
Doing those things that he just felt like doing made him find his flame; Self-education, building technological equipment and programming.
One day, within about a year, he found his golden business idea. Everything came together. Building new types of 3D-printers for different purposes was it for him. His flame turned into an unstoppable crackling fire. The only logical thing to do was to quit his job and spend all the time he had on this business idea.

Where will your enthusiasm bring you?

Can you make some space in your busy life to follow your impulses?

Now that we’re about to enter the holiday season, there are no excuses, so let’s start now; what’s your illogical, unexplainable ‘holiday’ activity?

ps. Jack had to answer the What-are-you-doing-this-holiday-season-question with “building a CNC cutter in my uncle’s old shed.” “Huh, what? Why? What are you going to do with that??” And enjoyed answering, “I have no clue, do you have a good idea for me?” Which always led to fruitful conversations.

blog collaboration to speed up

How to Collaborate in a Way that Speeds You Up?

So, ok, imagine, there you are, working independently, passionately and on something you truly care for. One thing that you’ll notice is that you keep meeting people with whom you share that passion. People you just click with. This often gives you a big energy boost. Everything seems possible. You go home with a head full of ideas and opportunities and your agenda is full of meetups and projects.

Great, right?

Of course that’s great, but it won’t take long until you start longing for some peace and stillness in your head and agenda.
Then it’s time for some clarity. Who will you really start collaborating with and how? This is exactly what we’re going to talk about now.
So let’s see how you can create collaborations that make you speed up instead of weighing you down. After reading this blog you will notice that it’s actually quite easy to achieve this. It is just a matter of asking the right questions and really listening to the answers.

First it’s important to understand the 3 elements to take into account before collaborating: values, purposes and talents.

  • At first you need to consider your values. These are the things that are important for you personally in every situation. You might have many different values you work with like working trust-based, being flexible or putting fun before everything else. If you won’t find a connection on this level then the collaboration will be too much of a hassle for sure.
  • The second element is purpose, something that you care for, something worth working for 24/7. Is it about making financial products understandable for the main public? Is it helping designers to create prototypes, the easy way? You’ll have to be clear on a purpose that guides you through the hilly landscape of creation.
  • Then thirdly you have to focus on talents. What’s your unique skill set? What’s that skill or asset that you might not have, and that’s very crucial to deliver good work? A very simple example; you might be both marketing creatives, but one has outstanding writing skills and the other has rocking visualisation skills. Sounds like a good couple to create powerful advertising, right?

So if it is that simple, why does it often go wrong?

The moment you start walking your talk, you’ll definitely meet people who are totally heading towards the same goal and do similar things. When you meet them, you feel totally understood. This is re-affirming and it fires you up. These are relations to cherish. So, what’s the problem? Being too much of the same or not aware of the other’s complementary aspects, you can be in each others’ way.

Let’s for now focus on 2 clear types of fruitful collaboration.

  • The “let’s make it happen” collaboration; Same values, same purpose, complementary talents. If you have a lot in common, great. Then go mining for the complementary talents. Secondly you need to research what is needed to fulfil your shared purpose. If your talents and needs fit, then there is a strong basis for collaboration.Go ahead and get to business. Design a process together and commit to doing the work.
  • The “let’s share ” collaboration; same values, other purpose, other talents. This can be for example friends or people you just click with, but who are working on a totally other businesses. At first just good company. Since you’re working on another business, the collaboration lies in sharing things, like a workspace. Doing this you’ll experience that the gold lies in the objectivity. Nothing will hold them back for giving honest advice or unexpected ideas. Which might make the difference for you.