Category: Creative Inspiration

The Importance of Gut Instinct

Thursday May 25th 2017

The Importance of Gut Instinct

What is Gut Instinct?

Collins Dictionary: noun – an instinctive feeling, as opposed to an option or idea based on facts.

Having a ‘Gut Instinct’ about something may sound a little ‘woo woo’. But please read on because learning to follow your gut instinct (intuition) can do wonders for your business.

Milly Inspired is the third company I have launched. The other two did well but once they were up and running I felt something was ‘off’. That feeling (intuition) was right and although they made a profit, different aspects of the businesses were much harder than they needed to be. Those businesses and I were not a perfect match and so over time I moved on. When Milly Inspired Ltd launched I felt different, very positive, no negative inner dialogue. Opportunities also came quicker and easier. It just felt right (and it still does today).

Those feelings may sound familiar and they can come up in all aspects of your life.  You may be able to identify past feelings when you thought a relationship or situation was wrong. Maybe you felt some uncertainty about someone you had just met or a job interview that on paper was perfect, yet for some reason it still felt wrong for you.

Why using Gut Instinct is Useful in Business:

Learning to trust your instincts, using your intuitive sense of what is best for you, is paramount for lasting success. – Oprah Winfrey

You can see from the quotes in this post that many famous business people use their gut instinct when making day to day business decisions. Small businesses need to relying on instinct and experience to make business decision much more than these famous entrepreneurs as they are unlikely to have the funds to research ideas before moving forward on them.

I have already explained how I felt much more positive when launching Milly Inspired, compared to previous business ideas. This feeling I now use on a daily basis when making decisions large and small. For example, I start planning our next collection by brainstorming all the ideas I have. I then highlight the ideas I feel are the best (using only gut instinct to select them). From there I use my learnt experience to eliminate any ideas that for whatever reason are less likely to be successful. Finally I use my intuition again when deciding what ideas to progress first.

The Science behind Gut Instinct:

I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of Statistics. – Richard Branson

TED Talk Video: Food for thought: How Your Belly Controls your Brain, by Ruairi Robertson

This is a big topic and one I’m not qualified to answer. Instead, I’m going to give you a quick overview of the science behind gut instinct and if you want to learn more please listen to the TED Talk video above.

Intuition is nothing new. The feeling of approaching danger would have been present in prehistoric man. This means it has been past down with our genetic history and is reinforced in us by our parents and our environment. In the last few years, Scientists have found there are more neurones in our stomachs than our brain. These cells react to uncertainty and warn our brains of danger or even bad decisions. Making ‘Gut Instinct’ an actual physical reaction.

These reactions can appear to people in many different ways. Here are just a few:

Thoughts: This thought could be as simple as feeling a new idea should not be progressed. However, normally these feelings are much harder to decipher. You maybe thinking about a dismissive reaction a business friend had to your new idea. When thinking of their reaction, out of nowhere you may get the thought ‘your friend was stressed or unwell‘. That thought is a little out of context (it is nothing about business) but that would be your intuition picking up on the situation and explaining their reaction. Or the thought maybe less detailed like ‘there are other things going on in their life’. Gut instincts are thoughts that come into your mind naturally and although you have no reasoning behind that thought, they still feel true to you.

Feelings: This is a feeling that can appear in one area of your body or all over. I know some people can get sudden pain or sickness feelings when they know an idea or situation is not right for them. Personally, I literary feel it in my stomach (a proper gut instinct moment). For me, a bad idea also feels foggy, like I have no energy and even slightly saddening or nauseating. Over time I have literally learnt what the feeling of a negative idea is to me. In contrast, a positive idea gives me energy, makes me smile and I feel light and ready to work.

Steps to Following your Gut Instinct:

You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

By now you may have noticed there would have been times in your life that you would have been using your intuition but you may not have been aware of it. Below are a few tasks that help directly engage your intuition when making daily business decisions. The more you carry out these tasks, the more you will be familiar with your intuitive feelings, until one day it becomes second nature:

Ask a Question:

The easiest way to directly engage your intuition is to ask a question and receive the answer. To do this simply take a moment to shut your eyes (optional) and ask the question in your head. Take a deep breath and then your next thought will be the reply. You can also write down a question and then automatically start writing the answer.

Modern Meditation:

Calming the mind through meditation will help access intuitive thoughts. However, I know not everyone can follow this traditional practice. Instead, going for a walk alone or even taking a relaxing bath can also be a form of meditation. To get guidance while doing traditional or modern meditation, simply start the activity with the intention of getting the answer to your question before that activity ends. As you progress through the activity be aware of your thoughts and feelings and see where they lead you.

Ask for a Sign:

A fun way to search for guidance is to ask for a sign. For example, I always see white feathers when I’m on the right track. Simply pick what your sign will be and affirm to yourself, if this idea is a good idea then I will see that sign at some point today.

The Rules:

Here is some extra guidance to help you on your way:

  1. Don’t push for an answer: If you actively look for your sign, chances are you won’t see it. If you ask yourself a question and then think up the answer, that is you, not your intuition. You need to keep your mind clear and then the answer will come.
  2. The answer may not make sense: Sadly we don’t always get simple yes or no answers. Instead, another better idea may come into your mind. Maybe you think of a person you need to contact for the answer. No matter how the answer is delivered, you will feel uplifted when you receive it.
  3. No answer is also an answer: Yes this is true. If you ask a question and don’t feel you get a reply then that is the answer. You can wait a while and try asking again in a different way but if you still don’t get a reply then that is your answer. At that point try asking if you are on the wrong path or what the right path is.
  4. Remember the answer maybe a feeling and not a thought: When asking questions be aware how you feel immediately after. A positive or negative, happy or sad reactions can also be your answer.

To Finish:

To finish off I wanted to show you this video by Jess Lively. US Business Owner turned Life Coach, Jess will explain what intuition is and how to access it in her own words. She also explains how she converses with her intuition:

Do you use your gut instinct and intuition when making life and business decisions? We would love to hear your intuition stories in the comments field below.

Launch Giveaway – Win £100 of Hobbycraft gift vouchers

Monday April 3rd 2017

Creative Business Gems Launch Giveaway

Spread the love and win £100 of Hobbycraft gift vouchers to spend on your creative business.

So we are hitting the ground running by starting our first competition right away. It is a simple ‘like and share’ giveaway. All you have to do is:

1. Head over to either our Facebook or Twitter page.
2. Find the competition graphic above posted on that social media page.
3. Then Like our page and Share the graphic.

It’s as easy as that!

Here are the links again: Facebook and Twitter.

The launch giveaway will run all month, ending on the 31sh May at midnight. I will announce the winner here on the 1st June 2017… exciting!

To make sure you hear about future competitions, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below.

Note: This competition is not sponsored by Hobbycraft.

Trend Watch – Gender Reveal Parties

Sunday March 12th 2017

Gender Reveal Trend

Gender Reveal Moodboard – view Pinterest Board for photo sources.

Gender reveal parties are a new trend, straight from the US. Just like baby showers, this is a rapidly growing trend within the UK, with couples looking for fun ways to reveal the sex of their baby to their family and friends. For more inspiration, take a look at our gender reveal Pinterest Board.

The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtney-Smith

Saturday March 11th 2017

The Million Dollar Blog

The Million Dollar Blog Book Review: if you are starting a blog or perfecting the one you have, then this is the book for you!

The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Cournney-Smith is one of those rare reads that encapsulates not just the general information you expect to find in any book on a specific topic, but also endeavours to include fresh new content unique to its pages.

There are a number of extra aspects of blogging that Courtney-Smith chooses to include, but for me, the numerous unique case studies from some of the most well-known bloggers out there are what make The Million Dollar Blog the most practical book on blogging at the moment. There is at least one case study per chapter. Two of my favourite are:

1.Elise and Emma from Craft and Lifestyle Blog, A Beautiful Mess.
2. Carrie Green of the Female Entrepreneur Association (FYI – all female business owners need to follow this lovely lady’s blog).

I have read far too many books on blogging, and comparing this to others I have read, I can safely say that the reason this book works so well is because of the author’s personal background. Originally, Natasha started blogging to grow her PR business. That meant she took a business-minded approach to blogging. She watched and analysed the posts that generated the best response. It is this process she shares with the reader.

The book starts by introducing the vast blogging options open to the reader, from ‘mum blogs’, like the famous Mumsnet, to news blogs like the Huffington Post, and specialist blogs such as Simple Green Smoothies (all of whom are included as case studies in the book).

As the book progresses, Natasha talks first about the initial creation of your blog, through to the launch, growth, and then the all-important monetisation.

I truly loved this book, and found it very inspiring. Natasha writes with the kind of genuine enthusiasm that motivates you to get blogging right away. If you only want to read one book on blogging, this is the book for you… enjoy!

Have you read this book? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comment field below.

Main photo by – Get the Gloss

What Makes a Successful Designer Maker?

Tuesday June 4th 2013

What Makes a Successful Designer-Maker?

Designer-maker: those who both design and make their own products. Who bring together their creative ideas and making skills in the individual production of their designs. Designer-makers also represent designers involved in the small-scale batch production of goods. – Maker’s Yard

Having specific skills will help you to succeed as a designer-maker. I have compiled a list of what I believe those skills to be; you will find you have some, but maybe not others. That is normal, so don’t worry. It is always a good idea to be aware of your weak areas and, over time, bring people into your business who can provide those skills for you.

Someone who is creative, who also has a head for business (and what I mean by ‘head for business’ is that you have to work out your prices correctly, understand that marketing is key, identify how to grow the business etc.).Ali Millard of Milly and Pip

So what skills do the Creative Business Gems team think designer-makers need…?

  1. Creative: a successful designer-maker needs to create commercial products that will attract a customer base. To do well you need an eye for what sells; plus, you need to be able to think creatively to make items that match consumer needs.
  2. Originality: too many designer-makers copy other people’s work. This makes no sense, as you will never do well if you just mimic others. Instead, find your own style and make something unique and different (plus, it goes without saying that copying is plain bad). Yes, be inspired by other craftspeople, but have the confidence to forge your own path. Austin Kleon has written a brilliant book on this called Steal Like an Artist.
  3. Relevant: creating items to sell is very different to creating items for fun. If you want to make money from your makes then the question of relevance needs to be asked daily. Most craftspeople make items they love. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to sell your items, consider what your customers will buy. What is the demographic you are selling to? What styles and items do they like?
  4. Business-minded: having even a small interest in this will make the daily running of your creative empire more enjoyable. You don’t need to know everything, and there are many areas where you can employ people to help. Still, it is a good idea to try and learn as much as you can.
  5. Change-maker: the world of small business changes all the time. Adapting and reacting to these changes is something a smaller company can do much faster than a larger organisation. People can find change stressful, but it is likely you will need to continue to adapt, so try and learn to enjoy the process.
  6. Shows up: a simple but crucial factor to being a successful designer-maker is showing up and being present. Be there for your business every day, work hard, and the pay-offs will come.
  7. Customer service perfectionist: small companies need to strive for customer service that compares to the likes of Harrods and John Lewis. Try and find ways you can go over and above. Could you give your customers a free gift with their purchase, or a discount code for their next purchase?
  8. Social media fan: designer-makers are selling themselves as much as their products. These days, people want to know as much about the person behind the products as the products themselves. Social media is the perfect way to do this (plus, it’s free). This is another area where you can bring in help, but I would suggest trying to give it a go yourself first. Over time you will build a direct relationship with your customer, enabling you to ask them questions and get their feedback.
  9. Teacher and student: being self-employed means you end up learning something new each day. Those lessons keep on coming and coming, you can’t avoid them. After a while, you will become both student and teacher. Once you have learned those lessons, you will find yourself passing that knowledge on to your team.
  10. Trust your instincts: trusting your gut instinct and knowing when an idea is a good one is one of a designer’s most important qualities. These flashes of inspiration are always right, so when you recognise one, hold onto it, write it down, and develop it. Your best ideas will most likely come this way, so it is a good skill to develop.

Do you agree with my list, or would you suggest acquiring some other skills first? If so, I would love to hear what they are, so please add them in the comments bar below.

I’d say it’s a mix of passion, determination, flexibility, commercial realism & great support from family & friends. – Joanna Miller of Bespoke Verse

Photo by Lubos Houska, on Pixabay

keep looking »

Welcome, I’m Gemma

If you are a Craftsperson, an Artisan, Design-Maker or Micro Manufacturer, looking for product design inspiration then is a blog written for you.

I have run my own Designer-Maker Business, Milly Inspired, for over 7 years now. Today our six-figure company is still growing at 50%. Learn how to get the same results right here!

To keep up to date with the latest advice, tips and business support make sure you sign up to our Newsletter below.