• nimbld HQ

Keeping it nimbld S2 #1 Pearl Bates on Business

We are back with a new season of Keeping it nimbld!

“Why get an artist to come in and discuss business, you ask?” Well, because most people don’t arrive at entrepreneurship through business school - we get there because of an an idea, but are then faced with the challenges of the less-than-glamorous requirements of the job: ensuring bills are paid, taxes are filed, and that the audience you are trying to reach gets to hear about what you do. So indeed, who best to ask, than artist-turned-solopreneur Pearl Bates, who has been wearing all these hats and more for her entire career? This week, we get together to discuss how fostering creativity takes diligence, and how discipline is not a prison - but rather the tool with which we buy the freedom to truly pursue what drives us.



References:

Follow Pearl Bates on:

Resources mentioned:

Bullet Journaling explained:


About Pearl, in her own words:

Traversing realms of imagination, armed with only a pen. Audacious art, lit up by life’s magic.

I've been drawing and writing for as long as I can remember. To this day, I always keep a pen and notebook to hand. They are my talismans. Characters, creatures and ideas tend to hang around and pester me until I have rendered them in ink or paint. I couldn't really tell you where they come from, but I take inspiration from all kinds of places – for example nature, street style, high fashion, music, film, theatre, dance, or architecture. Sometimes I'll spot someone in a cafe, through a window or across the street, and I feel compelled to try and capture whatever it was that sparked my attention. It could be something about their energy, or the way they walked, or the way they were daydreaming.


My art has been collected all over the world, and I've had exhibitions in New York City, London, Zurich, Marbella, Berlin, Antwerp, and Santa Barbara, California. Recent commissions include a ten-piece mural in central Brighton, UK, illustrations for the international virtual opera project Vopera, and artwork for East Sussex College’s Black History Month campaign.


I graduated from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art in London with a degree in theatre design, and spent a brief time working in the film and TV industry before moving to Berlin and then New York City, where I focused on my art. I’m currently based on the UK’s South Coast, where I work from a studio that overlooks a castle and has a kitchen well-stocked with hot-chocolate.



About Keeping it nimbld:

Did you know you can save on office costs and easily work from anywhere on nimbld? It is forever free to join, end the commute now at www.nimbld.com. You can also find the shownotes there and more.


If you enjoy the podcast, would you consider rating and giving us a review? It takes only a few moments and really helps us reach a wider audience. Please subscribe on Apple Podcasts / Stitcher / Spotify / YouTube or wherever you get your podcasts.


Thanks for your support, and let's keep it nimbld!


Carla ;)

 


Remote, hybrid and flexible working is not a fad or a trend, it’s here to stay.


Why not set up your team members with a nimbld account, where they can access a variety of flexible, affordable spaces, wherever they are? This way you can easily track expenses and budgets for your remote or hybrid team, saving on your office costs.


Why not try nimbld as a way to explore new, affordable, and flexible workspaces at the click of a button?



 

Episode Transcript:

Carla Viegas

Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Keeping It Nimbld. This week, we have with us artist Pearl Bates joining us from the south of England. Hi Pearl!


Pearl Bates

Lovely to see you from sunny Dubai.


Carla Viegas

From Sunny Dubai, indeed. Pearl is an amazingly talented artist. I'm a big fan of her work. You can find it at www.pearlbates.com, by the way, and on Instagram.


Carla Viegas

Why don't we start with you introducing yourself a little bit what it is you do and how you got to doing what you do?


Pearl Bates

Well, I've been doing what I've been doing literally for as long as I can remember, my earliest memories are of drawing at the kitchen table. And I used to draw ballet dancers and ice skaters and I'm still doing it! So yeah, it's been a lifelong thing for me. And then going through school and further and higher education, I took all art subjects. I studied theater design at Central St. Martin’s and then found myself catapulted into the real world.

And no one had never had ever really explained to me that being an artist means running a business. So they didn't teach you when you go to art school. I didn't even know how to put an invoice together or anything about bookkeeping or how to find clients.


So even though I had all this training and experience in creating stuff, I had to start from scratch when it came to learning how to be a business person. And as a young person, I was very prejudiced against business. I thought it was men in suits doing boring stuff. But now I know that business can be a really, really creative and creatively rewarding endeavor. So it's been fun to get involved.


Carla Viegas

Have you ever had a “regular job”, like a boring job?


Pearl Bates

I've had all sorts of jobs I've never had like a full on “proper” nine to five, it's always been weird gigs. So at the moment I work in the summer at Glyndebourne Opera House in the costume department, which is fantastic because I love being in that creative environment. I love being surrounded by people who are the best in the world at what they do, and the shows they put on are wonderful and the inspiration feeds into my own work. And I think as a self-employed person working alone from home, it can be a really beneficial thing to do something else. Even if you don't need money like working in a bar or something just to get that human interaction that we need.

But then aside from that, I've, you know, worked in bars and delicatessens and I did work… I worked as an admin assistant for an acoustic design company years ago, and that is where I learned a lot of a lot of things business wise, that is still part of my toolkit.


Carla Viegas

It gave you those foundations.


Pearl Bates

Oh yeah. Just knowing how to file staff and organize staff and real basics.


Carla Viegas

Yeah. So so in terms of like how to work, are you self-employed or do you have a company?


Pearl Bates

I'm self-employed.


Carla Viegas

OK. Yeah, it's it's interesting. That's something that that I think often when people want to take the plunge, they can find themselves a little bit of a place of overwhelm of what to do there. And the easiest way if people are in the UK is to go self-employed. And that's actually a really straightforward process. To just follow HMRC, you tell them you want to go self-employed and then you become responsible for submitting a self-assessment once every year, due at the end of January for a tax year that runs April to April. So they're wonderfully generous in how many months they give people to procrastinate until January, when everyone is freaking out trying to do the tax return in two days.


Pearl Bates

They are pretty good. And the self-assessment form, I do it myself. If you do it online, it's super simple. So yeah, it's not scary.


Carla Viegas

How do you stay on top of your stuff? Are you someone who files your return straight away or do you procrastinate and then you run around in January? I've I've been both, by the way, now I’m on the side of people who do it nice and early, but I've absolutely run the clock down all the way to the 31st before and I don't recommend it. The stress is not worth it.


Pearl Bates

Well, that's that's the attitude I take. I just don't need the stress, so I'm afraid I do it right away. I don't want it hanging over me because it sucks energy away. And when it's done, it's done and you can breathe a sigh of relief and get on with doing more fun things.


Carla Viegas

Absolutely, absolutely. There's you know, like you were saying this, this sometimes this judgment of people who come from more creative environments when it comes to this, like, you know, crossing the t's and dotting the i's, but it feels like anathema to our personality. And it's interesting how kind of on top of things you are that you will do it straight away. How do you reconcile that with that essence of being an artist? Do you have any tips for people? Because I think there might be people listening that if they are very creative, they would think this involves fostering the kind of mindset that I fear will make me less good of an artist.


Pearl Bates

Hmm. It's a really good question. And to be honest, I think it's a rare beast who is a full-on creative who can also deal with the business side of things. And I'm still getting to grips with the business side of things. I struggle with marketing and keeping up with social media and all of that, but I know that I need to get on top of it because quite frankly, I've seen how much joy I can bring to people through my work and if they don't know I'm there I'm not going to be able to do what I was put on this Earth to do. The oil that greases this engine is being organized and my sister-in-law is Japanese, so I've been learning a bit more about the Japanese culture and discipline is a very integral part of how they show up in the world, which is really inspired me. And I think also just, you know, with discipline in self-care practices like meditation and yoga, it just enables you to try to be more effective at what you want to be able to to bring to this world. And that's something I am a huge fan of ballet. And again, it discipline is the key. There's no way they can go on stage and perform those amazingly technical yet beautiful movements without, you know, showing up for class rigorously at 10:00 a.m. every morning and doing an hour of really hard work. So…


Carla Viegas

Exactly.


Pearl Bates

So I'm learning to see it all as a more integral thing and the different parts need to work together in order to create what I want to show up in this world.


Carla Viegas

That makes so much sense. As you were saying that, I had this thing that popped in my head that I forget who said it, but: “genius takes practice”.


Pearl Bates

Yeah. Yeah. Yes, it does, I think. And I don't know. I think maybe it's Western culture, I don't know. But there's this idea that to have fun means to be hedonistic and not really caring about what's going to happen tomorrow. And I don't know. I mean, I'm interested in looking at things through a different paradigm. And what is it that you really want to be feeling? You want to be feeling if you feel if your work brings you fulfillment, then you need to take care of that work and nurture it like a garden and keep it weeded, keep the grass mowed and you know you want to take care of it so it can flourish.


Carla Viegas

For sure. For sure. This is making me think actually of kind of my, my own journey, my own journey was was a bit of a mixed bag, as you know, but people listening might not necessarily know this, that before I got to running a start-up, I've before I've run small businesses and and I've been in and out of the corporate world as it were for a very long time. But I've also been very creative on the side. I've had a career in music that lasted about 25 years. I'm currently on a break because, you know, this takes up all my time and then some.

But I always wanted to do multiple things at the same time and I used to be, you know, a bit of a space cadet and I was not very organized and it just it didn't come naturally to me.

And now I'm complete Organization Monster and I got to that, and I got to that by just, you know, it was it was necessary, and I found that becoming disciplined and becoming structured with certain things gave me freedom for the other stuff.

So discipline doesn't have to be stifling. Discipline is the tool with which we buy our freedom to be creative. one thing that I would recommend, actually, now, we're kind of going into a bunch of different things because the different aspects to running a business, right?

Depending on what it is that we do, the operations needs to be in place as a need to know what kind of corporate structure we're having, if any. You know, we might want to have an LLP if we have a partner or if you want to keep them more flexible, we can go into a limited type setup. Or we can just say as a solopreneur, a self-employed person, but as a self-employed person, we can still very much have a brand image. She's going to operate under a trading name, but still under the hood be operating as a freelancer because this is a thing that not a lot of people know. They think that if they have a brand that they want to put forward, they need to have a company. That's not the case. So then there's the marketing aspect and then the operations side, you know, like the admin and the invoices, like you say, all that kind of boring stuff.

And if there's a piece of advice that I can give to anyone listening who wants to retain their freedom and their creativity and all that is: outsource as much as you can to technology, there are so many tools out there they can do everything for you. Set reminders on calendars, use things like bookkeeping tools. Just if you have things that you do for your business, just run things through a bank account and then put everything through zero, or QuickBooks or something like that.

And then when it comes time to do your tax returns there is literally no work to be done! You just press a button and it gives you a results, and then you put that into a form and off you go. I'm a big fan of automating as much as possible because anything that we don't automate is taking up real estate in our brains and we need our brains for ideas.


Pearl Bates

Right, right. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, that's all really sound advice. I literally just got to grips with Excel spreadsheets last year and somebody gifted me a template. And as you said, I just put the numbers in and it does all the math for me, adds it all up and then I've got my figures, so makes life much easier. I'm still very much an analog person. My brother does everything digitally, but I find I need paper and pen to kind of reassure myself that I've got stuff written down.

I'm a real, I'm a real planner nerd. So, I'm sure anyone who loves stationery can empathize. And I've got really into bullet journaling.


Carla Viegas

I love stationery. I cannot go into Paperchase, I’ll walk out of there with a mortgage.


Pearl Bates

Exactly, exactly. But bullet journaling has proven really, really helpful for me to help keep an overview of what's going on.


Carla Viegas

Can you explain to us what bullet journaling is for people who might not have heard of it?


Pearl Bates

How can I explain it? Um, how can I explain it? Well, what I do is I put together an overview for the year and this goes at the front of my bullet journal. A lot of people use a pre bound notebook, but I prefer A5 loose leaf paper and a lever arch file.


Pearl Bates

So have an these are due for the year and what I'd like to achieve in that year. And then I break the year down into quarters and what I hope to achieve in each quarter and then break it down monthly. So each month, I, you know, start a new section in my journal and then a list of stuff I want to achieve that month. And I assign all of those tasks into a little calendar for that month. And then for each day I write a to do list and each item on that list has got a different, a little symbol next to it, which indicates whether it's business related task or a personal task or, you know, home, admin, that sort of thing, which means you can look at your list at a glance and just see, you know, the information goes straight into your brain, what needs to happen that day?

And then you cross out each thing as it's done. And that's it. And anything that doesn't get done, you put it right next to it, which means it's been migrated into the next day and it just helps keep everything together. Because I think particularly if you've got a creative mind, it's so easy to scribble a note here and another note there and put something in an email there. And things just migrate out of sight, and you end up quickly feeling like you were out of control. But this keeps everything in one binder, and it's just really helped me to keep a very articulated, clear idea about where I'm going and what needs to happen today.


Carla Viegas

And then you have the benefit of it being something beautiful as well every day and quite a sensory experience. I'm a weird one when it comes to planners because I am 100% a big fan of bullet journaling.

You know, the idea of starting instead of just spending a fortune and buying a planner that costs a lot of a lot of money but is structured, it will have its own templates, and it might not be what best serves you.

So, so actually, I found that I live on Trello, all my colleagues, like my my colleagues at Nimbld. They've joked that if that if Trello goes down, I just will not know how to exist because everything is there and they don't even know the half of it because I have workspaces where I'm sharing things with everyone, and then I have workspaces that are private where I have my entire thing. But I also very much like that experience of the stationery and the writing down. Writing down really helps me commit things to memory. I'm quite I feel like I'm quite a visual learner in that respect and that that if I write something down, I'll remember it even if I end up losing the piece of paper. But I always felt like I ended up having to do this thing twice by using the notepad and then putting it on Trello. Because Trello, the moment something is on Trello, it just doesn't disappear forever in its best way to just never get lost. So what I ended up doing in the end, is I got myself an iPad and I got good notes and I can use a pen on it.

So now I have the best of both worlds. Now I have notepads that appear on the cloud and I can still write and draw and scribble, and I basically have I kind of buy templates or download them if they’re free and I build my bullet journal that way. And so and I work very much the same way you do. So I have a year overview. So I have my kind of basics that I really want to achieve for the year.

And I'll break those down into quarters, break those down further into months and then I break them down further into weeks. And so I have a to do list for the week. And this also gives me some flexibility within the week.

So if something doesn't end up getting done, something that sometimes I've struggled with with the traditional bullet journal thing is that I would end up forgetting how many times I've bounced the task over. And then it just becomes like this thing that just sticks around at the bottom of the to do list that I feel increasingly guilty about because I'd never get around to it. So I tried to have, you know, a list of things for the week, and then I try and distribute those per day the best I can. And I have like a little template that I use for the day with, you know, morning, afternoon, evening.

My To-Do is my priorities, my intention, self-care otherwise, I'll forget. So I love the idea of a minimum viable day. What are the basic minimums that I need to do in order to make sure that I'm not dropping anything important in the needle is still moving?


So, you know, I've just come out of my second bout of COVID in three months, and that's been harsh. And so my energy is still a little bit erratic. And that way it gives me a little bit of flexibility where I can feel that if I can’t tackle all of it I'm happy to shift it forward as long as I can still finish it within the week, right? I can do the minimum viable day bail and go get the rest I need and go and nurture my body how it needs, and it's something I'm going to try and start doing from this week onwards is actually a postmortem for the week. To reflect on what worked, what didn’t, then I can course correct into the next week.


So that's something I'm going to play with first time I'm trying it. By the way, I found the template for reflection and a plan and a preparation.

Will let you know how that goes. But yeah, that the writing experience, the iPad writing experience has been absolutely glorious. It's saved me some time, you know, transferring things as well from one notepad to another because you can just cut and paste onto the other page and you can cut and match.


And I have templates here like for habit trackers, for my self-care checklists and mood trackers, and also track my studies. (I'm always doing courses and continuing to develop myself and all that kind of stuff.) I miss buying new notepads. I miss the covers. And so like, now, my temptation is to not end up spending a lot of money in cases for my iPad because I'm tempted to buy pretty folders and things to focus on, but I'm trying to resist the temptation.


Pearl Bates

Sounds like the payoff would be worth it. Also an iPad super portable, so you're not looking around a big file with that.


Carla Viegas

Yes. Yes. So another transformation that the iPad has actually brought into my life. And so, you know, now that I'm here in Dubai for four months, I didn't bring a single book with me.


Pearl Bates

Amazing. Technology, eh?


Carla Viegas

Indeed. Yeah, we've talked a fair bit here about the admin side of things and productivity and all of that.

About marketing, what kind of advice do you have in terms of tools and how to organize yourself? Like, what do you do to promote yourself?


Pearl Bates

Not enough, is the short answer.


Carla Viegas

Never is, right?


Pearl Bates

I might see it more on Instagram, but I think the nature of some social media is changing a lot now. I think we're all we're all wise to this. I listen to a really interesting podcast the other day and it was all it was a bunch of Gen Z people, and they were saying that social media used to be about broadcasting to a big audience and rounding up a big crowd behind you. And these days, it's more about nurturing much more intimate relationships, I guess, and getting to know who individuals are and getting to know people and finding out what what makes them happy and and why they engage with your work and why it works for them. So that's quite a different approach to how things used to be. And probably a more healthy one. I mean, I think as human beings were designed to interact with other human beings are not great faceless crowds.


So I'm still trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of how all this works. But I just share my processes on Instagram and my thoughts and observations and see where it goes. I also have a mailing list. And I write to my people about once a month, often it's not even about art, it's about stuff that I've been thinking about which informs the work. And again, I often get a lot of responses and, you know, enter into conversations with people and that's, you know, the really lovely thing. And that's what art is, at the end of the day, it's about, you know, it goes into people's lives and makes them feel happy. That's the goal.


Carla Viegas

And that's wonderful. There's been a real shift, I think. As social media platforms have fragmented. I think that's really what's happening to social media as a whole. It's it's um, it went from a from what was originally a fairly fragmented audience. It was just a smaller audience, you know, like the birth of social media were things like online forums and you have online forums for people who collect stamps from 1956, it’d be very, very targeted. And then and then it started becoming a little bit wider.

You know, you have MySpace and things like that. MySpace was still also pretty geared around like music lovers. I think there was a lot of music lovers on on on MySpace, and then Facebook became it for everyone. And then we came in just, you know, half of the world is on it, probably more. And now it's starting to fragment back down again. So you start having social platforms that are geared more for particular kinds of people. You know, I've learned recently that the demographics of Pinterest, for instance, are quite interesting and that they are majority women on that platform.

Facebook has now become the realm of mostly Gen Xers, and older, millennials are still a little bit on Facebook or mostly on Instagram. And then you've got the platforms for the Zoomers, you know, you've got Snapchat and Tik Tok and and also, you know, certain kinds of vanity metrics have become meaningless. Following means very little. Now what matters is engagement. You know, it doesn't matter one iota if I have 1,000,000 followers on my page, but then no one actually interacts with what I'm posting. No one is clicking through on anything.

So that actually doesn't mean anything because at the end of the day, no one's engaging with what it is I'm trying to do. Social platforms are where buying billboards on the internet in exchange for our attention, it's already paid. We pay with our attention when we are exposed to ads and occasionally we buy things, and that's how we pay for the service.


Pearl Bates

I get a sense that, you know, people are getting wise to this and not necessarily feeling comfortable with it and are looking for other ways to communicate with their audience. And I think there's a lot to be said for more old-fashioned models like local radio, local press.


Carla Viegas

Absolutely.


Pearl Bates

Holding in-person gatherings.


Carla Viegas

Yeah, precisely.


Pearl Bates

But writing letters to people put them in a post box.


Carla Viegas

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, because this is I was thinking actually as we were musing about social media and its different incarnations, that there might be a lot of people out there, that are wincing at the thought of social media, they just don't want to be involved and also involves a certain kind of visibility sometimes of the personal sphere that people are not comfortable with, necessarily. But then again, you know, it's up to you how you want to use social media and how this can best serve what it is that you do. You don't have to share anything personal at all. You can literally just be on LinkedIn and talk about work. Or you can be on Pinterest and share photos of what you do or links to your blogs. Or Medium is a great platform as well to share written content.


Pearl Bates

So coming up with all sorts of different ways for people to interact with each other.


Carla Viegas

It's important to understand that marketing is not digital marketing. Digital marketing is one kind of marketing and within digital marketing. Then you have social media as a subset, but within the realm of digital marketing, we have everything from SEO to content marketing that includes blogs and it is what it is we're doing here, podcasts, newsletters like you were saying, like mailing list newsletters, and then there's all the other stuff. There's so much offline marketing that can happen, you know, like you're saying in-person gatherings. If what people offer is something that is offered fairly locally, then there's a lot of value in doing offline stuff, sometimes. Get some stickers done with a QR to your site where your offerings are and put them up in places. You know, there's just so much that can be done. I think for people who want to target a global audience, social media is also a bit of an illusion in that regard.

To be completely, brutally frank, as anyone trying to start a company Facebook page can attest that visibility is very, very low unless you're buying it. And what digital marketing lets us do is actually target slightly more global audiences. But but you still need to target them very well. We need to think what it is. Who's the person who? Needs to be seeing what you do, who's your crowd and who's your people, what's their gender, what's their age? What's their interests? Where do they live? Where do they stop? What do they do? Then you do your best to get yourself in front of them. Because I'm online for a global level is just very, very, very expensive.


Pearl Bates

Yeah, exactly. And it's so noisy up there now. It's so hard to cut through all of that, all of that chaos. I think these days, if you're promoting something, you've got to be pin sharp on what it is that you want to be sharing with people. It's crucial to to know who you're talking to and and to help those people know that you see them and that you're all part of your own, your own exclusive little tribe. It sounds counterintuitive, but I think the smaller you can focus in terms of what you're sharing and who you're connecting with, the higher your chances of success. Because if you're trying to reach everybody, you know, as you say, it's just not going to happen.


Carla Viegas

Any closing thoughts for anyone out there wanting to take the plunge and who might be scared or overwhelmed or intimidated, we just dumped a whole lot of information on people here.


Pearl Bates

Well, it depends on what people's ambitions are, but I would say start out small. Be gentle with yourself. Ask for help and advice. There's tons. I mean, I'll use YouTube all the time if I've got questions and there will be some twelve year old kid telling me how to do it.

So there's a lot of support and help out there. I'm better to try something then to sit back and wonder what if? And the feeling of running your own show and doing your own thing is is really rewarding, so I would I would really encourage everyone to find that bravery and give it a go.


0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All