Upping your game: producing remarkable work
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it takes for a business to be remarkable. In this post we explored what being remarkable can do for you (spoiler alert: it’s the most powerful, sustainable and rewarding way to market your company) and here I mused on why being remarkable matters more than ever.
For many of us, that means upping our game. It means putting our energies into producing exceptional work. It means building on what you do brilliantly and lifting yourself above the hustle.
When you’re creating your best work, it’s infectious. You can’t help but share what you’re up to with passion and joy and that’s attractive to your prospective clients. When you’re doing your best work you don’t worry about what anyone else in your industry is up to. You’re inspired. You’re in your creative flow and you’re working to your creative edge. It’s at that point that your business starts to tap into its true potential.
When you’re producing remarkable work you know you’re doing something uniquely brilliant. You can confidently charge what you’re worth because your clients have to come to you, they can’t get what you do from anyone else. Whatever the next few years bring for us economically, creating an unforgettable, remarkable business is something we all need to put our energies into.
So how do you get your business to a point where each and every project you work on is your best work yet? How do you move beyond the limitations of what your clients are currently asking you for and deliver what you want to be doing? How do you win those dream projects?
Most of all, how do you get your business to a point where you have a steady stream of enquiries and you can confidently be turning work away? It starts with upping your game. Whatever point you’re at now, I’m a firm believer in always working to your creative edge, always moving forwards and always elevating. You may have had a brilliant year, but life would be dull if we always did more of the same. How do you carve out the opportunities to take your work to the next level and be even more remarkable?
Upping your game can be a complete roller coaster of emotions. It's exciting, inspiring, challenging and demanding. It can be frustrating, slower than you'd like at times and will almost always make you question your ability.
Those of you that have listened to any of the podcasts I’ve been involved with will know that when I started my first business in 2005 we were primarily a quick print company selling logos ‘on the side’ for £99. By the time I sold my company in 2012 we had created a destination brand. We were a highly sought after brand styling agency who created gorgeous brand identities and websites for consumer and lifestyle companies in all corners of the globe. I realise that having international clients doesn’t sound that unusual now, but in 2010/2011 it was pretty revolutionary.
We went on a huge journey during the seven years I was running my business. One thing that remained the same was that we were constantly upping our game. Every project was a chance to build on what we’d learned and do even better next time.
I loved the challenge of doing something better than before. I loved the clients we got to work with and the sense of satisfaction from a job well done. Having worked through the full gamut of ‘how quickly/ cheaply can you do it’ to ‘we just want something gorgeous and we know you’ll need time to get that right’ I know exactly how it feels to run a creative business at each stage of the journey. I guess that’s why I’m so passionate about helping talented entrepreneurs realise their potential.
Getting your business to a position where you have the opportunities to win and do the work you want, whilst confidently (and politely) turning down those that aren’t a good fit takes time but is thoroughly worth the investment. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way…
Upping your game: how to produce remarkable work
1. Give yourself time and space to produce your best work.
When you're used to working with people who want things done quickly and cheaply it can take a long time to get used to slowing down and doing things properly. You need to carve out time to think, brainstorm, reflect, research, refine, evaluate and present well. You can't do all of this for £500 or in three days.
2. Ensure your working environment is conducive to creativity.
It's difficult to be creative when you're constantly being interrupted by people asking about photocopying or the phone ringing every five minutes. If you want to produce exceptional creative work you must create an environment where you have time to think. Even just an hour a day of highly focused creative brainstorming.
Clear your space from clutter and noise and ask yourself whether everything on the walls is strictly necessary. How can you make your space a more inspiring place to be?
Is there somewhere you can work together as a team? A large table that you can all sit around is essential for brainstorming and reviewing creative work. If you currently only have individual desks think about how you can make this happen.
3. Change your process
Create a clear creative process that enables you to deliver a consistently high standard of work and reassures both your team and your clients that you're capable of doing a great job. Empower your designers to produce breathtaking work that you review just once a week. To do this you'll need to make sure you set a very clear brief at the outset and ensure that they understand what you mean by breathtaking work.
If you want to produce exceptional work you must also make sure that you review every piece of creative work that goes out the door. I like to do this via creative meetings once a week which gives everyone the time, space and focus to do their best work.
4. Be inspired
Look around you for inspiration. Explore the work that inspires you and ask yourself why it works and what, specifically, you like about it. Get into the habit of noticing trends but also being conscious of your own style. To produce exceptional work you must ensure that whatever you do responds to the client brief and is unique: so you need to go beyond your inspiration and make something your own.
Indulge your creativity in other areas of your life: whether that's cooking, painting, crafting or gardening. Find the thing that makes you feel alive and spend time every week nurturing your creativity. You'll find that the more you use, the more you have.
5. Don't force it
Not thinking is as important as hard graft. If you're not inspired then get outside. Go for a walk and let your subconscious do the work. This is another reason why it's important you give yourself enough time.
6. Set your standards high
It’s up to you to consistently raise the bar. You know where you want to take your business and what you’re capable of. 70% might be enough for your clients, but to take your business to the next level you have to show your clients what you can do. That means going the extra mile. Even if this client doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing, your portfolio and future clients will thank you for it.
Now over to you. What would you add to this list? How have you upped your game recently and what has been the impact? Do share your thoughts, I love hearing from you!