Seth Godin says Real Artists Ship. Do you?

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The other day I was listening to the Marketing Over Coffee podcast featuring an interview with Seth Godin, talking about his new book Linchpin.

While the entire podcast was interesting – as always – there was one section in particular that stood out. Godin said, “real artists ship.”

By artists, he didn’t necessarily mean people who put paint on canvas. He broadened the term to mean anyone who is creative and bringing something new to the market, in particular entrepreneurs. What he really meant is successful entrepreneurs finish what they start and bring new products (or services) to market. They don’t spend forever making it perfect. They get it close enough, then release it.

During the interview they discussed a few well-known cases of companies taking forever to get a new product to market. In some cases, they never quite manage to release.

This got me to thinking about my own business and the businesses of other people I know. There have been several times where I’ve had great ideas, created a plan and started work on a brilliant new product. And then something that should have taken me one or two months to complete, drags on for many, many more months. By the time I finally finish it I’ve either lost interest, or someone else has beaten me to the punch.

And it’s not just me. I see it all the time in other people. I have a friend who is a very talented alternative health practitioner. She is kind, caring, and really knows her stuff. We’ve formed an unlikely partnership in the past to create some wonderful workshops together.

But her real dream is to have a full time practice. We spend many hours brainstorming ways she could market herself to attract new clients to her practice. I helped her create a marketing plan. Some of her marketing ideas were truly innovative.

But she never quite got off the ground. There was always a reason why she wasn’t ready to promote the next workshop or approach a complimentary business for joint ventures.  Her website wasn’t quite perfect, her office space wasn’t nice enough, she didn’t have enough names to contact. It didn’t really matter. The net result is she never got around to pursuing those opportunities and now she’s back working full time in a career she isn’t passionate about.

And yet the other day while at my chiropractor’s I noticed someone else with the exact same type of practice as my friend was implementing all the ideas we had come up with. She had partnered with my chiropractor, was running workshops and building a practice. This other woman was living my friend’s dream.

Now, I’m writing about my friend’s lack of ability to ship because let’s face it, it’s always easier to see where other people are going wrong than to look objectively at myself. But I do it too.

I’ve resisted posting a list of consulting services on my site for over a year now. Why? As I write this I can’t think of one good reason why it’s taken me this long. And yet here it is, a year later and people who visit my site can’t find a way to hire me. Dumb!

And to add insult to injury, I’ve had several people ask when I’m running courses again; both ones I’ve run in the past and new ones that have been on the drawing board. But I haven’t set a date.

So, dear readers, I have a challenge for us both. Let’s commit to being true artists for the rest of 2010. We will complete those projects that are on the drawing board. We will release them to the world to see if they sell. We will promote our asses off to sell these new products and services. And we will go one better. Regardless of whether these new products and services are wildly successful or fall flat, we will continue to create new and better products, while learning from our past efforts.

Andrea J. Stenberg

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