Hard work does pay off. Running your own creative business is hard work. It can feel like you are always working, and always working hard. In the beginning it can feel like its all hard, like there are no wins, no breathers and no one to help you to the next stage. No matter how hard you work, you don’t move forwards.

How do I know this? I know this because this was me and it was one of the lowest points of my life. When I first started Scanner’s Inc I was coming off the back of having been part of some pretty incredible projects – Founding team of Breakin’ Convention, Director of Education at Rambert, Clore Fellow supported by the DCMS, Projects Manager at British Dance Edition London 2012. I was a producer and project manager and I knew my stuff. So why did I find myself in that dark place of never ending hard work? I stood alone, no big brand or organisation endorsing my creativity. Work wasn’t flowing to me, confidence was flowing away from me and I was feeling smaller and more insignificant in terms of what I wanted to achieve. I had to give up my flat, my relationship ended and I moved home to my parents. Now that last part was where my first blessing lay, back home in a place of love and acceptance. I was very lucky and thankfully I was able to recognise that.

Everything changed with a cup of coffee. I had a cuppa with my dear friend Gaylene and we just talked, like creatives do, about ideas. There was a spark. I still remember six years on how I felt when I walked away from that coffee. I was lighter. There were possibilities. Those feelings stayed with me and whilst there was still no work flowing I felt there was potential for there to be work and for me to find myself again. I didn’t realise it at the time, but in this moment my mindset changed. I saw possibilities and I flipped into ‘can do’ rather than ‘can’t’.

This was where Scanner’s Inc was really born and when the real work started. Whilst experienced I worked for next to nothing at times, writing funding applications for £100, volunteering my time; I knew I had to put some serious leg work in to remind the sector that I was still here, just working in a different capacity. I worked from the bottom up, and I’m still working because I know I’m not in a position to really do what I want and to create the change in the world that I want to see yet … but I will be. I created Sofa Sessions – my programme to share knowledge and to network independent creatives. This came from a thought that if coffee and a chat had helped me, perhaps it would help others. It did. I think in the early days Sofa Sessions was as much about boosting my confidence and networking me, as it was about doing that for those who attended.

Just remember I’m writing this not to get your sympathy, but to let you know that I know how you are feeling and I know that its possible to get yourself into a healthier place both in your life and your creative business. Actually I am so passionate about this that I’m committed to sharing it and working with you to give you the tools to do it for yourself. I truly believe we are stronger together.

So. Hard work. Yes, I have a hard-core work ethic and I am so committed to anything I do that I will do whatever possible to make it work. I started to realise that perhaps I was working too hard and in fact there was a better way to achieve more. Let me tell you a story. Back in 2010 I was at my desk in the Breakin’ Convention office with Michelle and we watched the Chris Brown video YEAH, YEAH, YEAH. If you know your hip hop dance, it features a ton of dancers from Rock Steady Crew to Popin’ Pete. Pete has a shop in the video with his name above the door. It sparked an idea to create a shop in London for Pete. I called Pete excitedly – he said “yes, dope idea … what would we sell?” I didn’t have an answer as I hadn’t really formed the idea fully but I knew it would be a hit. It was. It did however take 2.5 years to come to fruition. This was my big learning. This was the first major project I had produced just as me. Why did it take 2.5 years to come to fruition?

1. Mindset – I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously just as me without Breakin’ Convention or a similar organisation behind me. I didn’t trust myself or my skills.
2. Strategy – I didn’t have one. I didn’t have a process that I was going to follow so I started on the bit I loved and spoke to the artists, but I didn’t do the foundation work that would have enabled the project to happen swiftly.

Popin’ Pete’s Pop Shop happened and it was brilliant. This first project was me putting me in the world and I was very proud. I also was worn out and realised there must be a better way of doing it.

What would happen if I worked hard but smart? – If I had a strategy, then the hard work would be targeted in the right places at the right times. I would get better results long term and everything I put out there would be consistently saying the same thing and so building my audiences. When you spend time on strategy you can then work smarter; when you know your goals, you can work smarter; when you put hard work into a smart strategy you get huge rewards.

This has taken me a few years to develop but now I have I want to share it. It is a creative planning tool for independent creatives who can’t sit down and just write a plan. I know I can’t. I have taught myself to do this, but ultimately my mind jumps all over the place with creative ideas. It’s who I am so rather than hate on that, I’ve created a way to channel that energy to create strategy. I turns out I’m really strategic and I love working on strategy. Who would have guessed it?!?

We love this statement and its basically talking about strategy. We love it because it taps into the artists way … its inspirational and something you can have an emotional connection with. Both are vital, in our opinion, at channelling your creative energy into a series of actions that will make your creative business a reality. With this connection the hard work becomes easier because by doing it you are enabling your creativity to get out in the world and make a difference. The hard work turns into smart work and you start to see a positive impact of the hard work you are investing – this in turn motivates you and the cycle repeats taking you closer to your goals.

Scanner’s Inc says; work smart, not hard, and even though you will be working hard it will be targeted and reap you many rewards. Accelerate when you need to like the Hare in the post from two weeks ago, but always remain consistent and connected inspirationally and emotionally to the vision for your creative business.

Stay tuned as Sofa Sessions is going to return with a targeted programme of online and in person seminars, courses and networking opportunities. We will be working with creatives who are Skilled but Stuck (with 5 or more years of experience and that need to break to the next level) and Box Fresh (just like a pair of brand new trainers, fresh out the box talent that is hungry to make the most of every move they make). Follow us for the latest on this and all our projects by signing up to our mailing list and follow us on social media; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

Peace and love and have a great day.


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