When I tell people I work for myself as a creative business owner I get one of 3 reactions.
The first reaction: “That is so awesome! I own my own business, too. Let’s be best friends!”
The second reaction: “Um…that’s cool.” (Awkward pause.) “What does that mean?”
The third reaction: “Wow. You are so lucky! I wish I could do that!”
When I get the third reaction, I am torn between feeling really proud of what I do, and wanting to tell them how freaking HARD it is to work for myself.
It’s definitely not luck that allows us to be creative business owners. It’s a ton of hard work. And a lot of that work is internal.
For me, it’s easy to write a blog post. I can create an email opt in sequence in under an hour. Want me to set up a landing page? Done.
The hard part, and the truly important part, however, goes much deeper.
Running my own business challenges me to constantly show up and put myself out there – even when it feels terrifying to do so. It means waking up everyday and relying on my own creativity and diligence to make things happen.
It means facing down and slaying my inner demons (of which there are many). It means consistently choosing to find my own path instead of trying to fit into someone else’s formula.
And because running my own business requires so much soul wrenching work, I’d better be sure that I’m enjoying it. Because otherwise, it would definitely NOT be worth it.
So how do you grow a creative business that you truly love, that makes you feel joyful everyday, and that makes all of that hard work worth it?
Read on to find out.
1. Clarify your vision
You know all of those business plan templates you can fill in? Those “customer avatar” exercises where you define who your audience is?
Unfortunately, you can’t just fill them out once and go on your merry way. (Sorry.) Growing a creative business that truly brings you joy requires you to constantly clarify who you are, who you want to serve, and how you want to show up in the world.
Do business plans and avatar exercises help? Sure they do. But I believe that they only skim the surface of your vision.
As you keep doing business, you will start to answer these questions:
- What am I really good at that I also love doing?
- What type of clients do I want in my life?
- How deep do I want my client relationships to be?
- What do I want my clients to walk away with after working with me?
- How do I determine my own success?
- What type of selling feels really good to me?
The more observant you can be about your own tendencies, and the more honest you can get about what really works for you, the clearer your vision for your business will become.
2. Celebrate and develop your strengths
Part of being a joyful business owner is loving yourself and being honest about where you shine.
You would want your day job boss to appreciate you and celebrate you, right? You would want her to give you opportunities to hone your skills and stand out in the company.
So why wouldn’t you do that for yourself, as well?
It’s all too easy to look at other business owners, other bloggers, and feel insanely jealous.
“She is SO good at XYZ.”
“I wish I could be as impressive as her.”
“Wow, when I compare her blog to mine, I feel so lame.”
Yup. I’ve thought all of those things.
But when I get really clear about what I bring to the table, which is depth, intuition, lots of experience building businesses, a dry sense of humor, and my own brand of awesome, all of that jealousy flies out the window. Why? Simply put, no one else is ME. And no one else is YOU, either.
So every moment you spend trying to be “as good” as someone else, you could be spending developing your own one of a kind brilliance.
How do you do that?
You notice what people come to you for. You ask your closest friends why they love you so much. You find activities that you can do for hours and that energize you.
And (this part is REALLY important, so pay attention) you believe (or at least pretend to believe) that your brilliance, your skills, the way you want to show up in the world is something that is insanely VALUABLE and that people will pay for.Your brilliance, your skills, & the way you want to show up in the world are insanely VALUABLE. Click To Tweet
You don’t diminish yourself for being multi-faceted. You celebrate your unique nature because it freaking ROCKS. And then spend all the time you’ve freed up by not comparing yourself to others, and use it to become even better at being you.
3. Let go of what doesn’t serve you
Oh boy. This one is a doozy.
Letting go is one of the most powerful things you can do to be more joyful in your business, and to spend your time doing what you truly love.
Letting go can mean:
- Unsubscribing from newsletters and emails that distract you or make you feel bad
- Saying goodbye to friends who drain your energy
- Not reading books/articles that activate your fear
- Leaving Facebook groups with negative energy
- Not doing things that feel bad, even if you think they will grow your business (There is always a way that’s truer to you)
- Identifying and shedding negative beliefs about yourself (This one takes a lifetime, so be ready for a long and rocky ride)
- Stopping habits that don’t serve you
I recently shut down a gigantic 6,500 member Facebook group, because I realized that it was draining my energy and forcing me to engage in a way that felt uncomfortable. It felt like breaking up with a longtime boyfriend.
I cried, but then I felt so much energy flooding back into me. I can now devote my time connecting with women who truly inspire me instead of deleting spam and refreshing my Facebook notifications.
Letting go of what doesn’t serve you – even if it’s hard – is a powerful first step to taking ownership of what DOES.
4. Learn to receive
Holy crap! This is a big one, too. Uh…I guess they all are.
Here’s a hard lesson for you.
You can’t build a business on your own. You just can’t. You MUST receive money from your clients to actually have a business. (Duh.)
And not only that, to have a business that truly brings you JOY (which is what we’re talking about here, right?) you must learn to receive from lots of other people, too.
You must connect with mentors who can help you dream bigger and do more in your business.
You must grow friendships with people who are on the same path as you and who will challenge you to keep going.
You must be willing to receive support, money, feedback, and praise from people you trust.
You can’t do it alone. You DO deserve to be paid. You ARE worthy of being surrounded by people who support you in a myriad of ways. So open your hands and your arms and your heart and get ready.
When I think about what a “successful business” means to me, a huge part of that is feeling joyful and fulfilled.
Yes, making money is important. But I want to bring in that abundance by working in a way that lights me up.
And the best way to do that?
- Clarify your vision
- Celebrate and hone your strengths
- Let go
- Be open to receive
What brings more joy into your creative business? Share in the comments below.