Thursday, 16 January 2014

On Running a Creative Business :: Mentoring

This is a long overdue blog post but there is a reason for it being late.  I have just finished the training that I received funding for as part of a mentoring programme provided by Creative Leicestershire.

As I write I am now 30 months in since starting my business, and what a journey it has been!
I started off with an idea.  Then I wanted to test that idea so I was advised, by Business Link (now GOV.UK) to pilot it, but of course I had to go through all the legal loopholes of registering as a business entity and getting an accountant and doing all the setting up a business training etc.  Then I discovered what worked well and what didn't work so well and then I scratched my head.  

The head scratching was bought about by my desire to know how to move my business from a pilot to a more mid-to-long term plan.  I knew things were working.  I knew the basics but I needed to know the secret to a sucessful and thriving long term fruitful business that gave a balance between having a career that I loved and which generated an income that had comensurate reward along with fitting this around my family's needs.  Right on cue came the potential solution in the form of an invitation to apply for support for professional development from Creative Leicestershire. I tentitively put my thoughts down on paper and submitted and, much to my surprise, I was accepted.

The programme started in June 2012 with an introductory session.  By this time Creative Leicestershire had introduced me to Pete Mosley who came with excellent credentials: creative business advisor and coach with over 30 years experience of working within the arts, as well as this also the business editor of Craft and Design magazine and an author of the fabulous book 'Make your Creativity Pay' .  Wow! how lucky I felt to have this kind of support.  

Pete was very accomodating of my childcare difficulties.  Our first meeting was during the school summer holidays and, having a child with autism makes things tricky when routines are changed.  We got around this by having meetings at my home.  The children happy in their own surroundings and this really helped in plotting the way ahead.  I was full of questions.  I had experience of running workshops knowing what worked and what didn't.  I had logically sussed out that you drop things that don't work, but forge ahead with the things that do.  I knew that you have to listen to the feedback and you go away and continually reinvent.  But there was this apprehension within me.  This little voice saying 'is this right?  Should I be continually changing the goals?  Should I just stick to one thing and keep on with it?'  Very quickly Pete was able to congratulate me on my sucessess and help me to find the answers myself.  One thing that did become clear was that I was not fully utilising my previous healthcare skills.  I had seen a really positive effect that the workshops I was running, were having on participants' wellbeing, with many reporting that they were feeling really relaxed in sessions, and some discussing their most intimate secrets.  Pete suggested that this was probably down to my previous skills as a nurse and maybe I should consider combining the two.  Genius! - the sound of pennies dropping was loud, and this was in the first session.  I had read something around the subject of arts for health but had not really thought about doing this more formally, so now I had found more focus for my business and something, that I felt, was fairly unique.  The following weeks, I spent reading around this subject area.  It was fascinating.

With this advice in mind I needed to find a positive way of spending the £500, that had been allocated to me as part of the mentoring programme, for professional development.

After thinking through a number of possibilites, the first bit of the funding was spent on attending a fantastic course on  'Training for Artists Working in Healthcare Settings'.  The course was organised by Katherine Brown from Beauty and Utility Arts based in Hinckley and Creative Leicestershire and was delivered by Jane Willis from WillisNewson the UK leading independant arts consultancy specialising in arts and health. 

The remaining funding was allocated to conference fees for the International Culture, Health and Wellbeing Conference (read more about it in an earlier blog post at the link) in Bristol, something that was good not only for my professional development but also for my own wellbeing.

I came away from both of these events absolutely buzzing with ideas for the future, a future that firmly consolidates my previous experience that I have gained as working as a  health professional, along with a future using my skills to develop into a career doing all of the things I love.  With this in mind coupled the expert coaching provided by Pete,  I have decided that I want to support people, particularly people experiencing mental health difficulties, by delivering a programme of arts/crafts for health and wellbeing.  In short I want to become an 'arts for health' practitioner.

Thank you Creative Leicestershire and Pete Mosley for helping me to realise this.

To find out more about Pete and the work he does around coaching and mentoring please visit his website - The Art of Work
Pete Mosley – Welcome

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