By Devon Pop Ups, Jul 30 2018 07:48AM
A few weeks ago I saw a post on a business forum where a fledgling entrepreneur was very upset and thinking of throwing in the towel because one week after launching her business she’d had no customers.
One week. I kid you not.
All the friends and clients who had promised to support her business while she was training … and offering free stuff … suddenly disappeared when she graduated and started to charge for her services. And it completely threw her. Luckily she received lots of useful and supportive advice from other business owners on this particularly friendly forum.
We all do it though, we all have that moment when it just seems a bit too much of an uphill struggle. That the odds are stacked against us and our ‘get up and go’ has done a runner.
I remember several times in the run up to the first Devon Pop Ups Ceramic’s Festival in June last year, I had these crushing feelings of self doubt. So many people had told me that I was wasting my time, I started to question myself. A lot. Those feelings of self doubt re-emerged big style 10 minutes before the event officially opened and I was thinking in no particular order:
What the flip am I playing at?
Who am I trying to kid? I’ll never pull this off?
I was totally crapping my pants and thinking that I’d be the laughing stock of North Devon and I’d have lashings of ‘I told you so’ from people who thought I was way too big for my boots trying to set up an events business.
Thankfully the venue was rammed by 10.15am. A big fat phew. And a few sneaky happy tears.
The thing that we business folk need to learn very early on is resilience. It’s flipping tough out there!
We have all sorts of dreams, ambitions and expectations when we throw caution to the wind, pack in the day job, and go it alone. And those dreams CAN be achieved, they really can. But we have to work hard, take action and be open to opportunity. We must stay unafraid of making mistakes because frankly we will make a shed load of those along the way. We also have to be open to learning and have the hides of several rhinoceroses to cope with negative wittering of others.
The image I chose to accompany this blog was Northern Grit by Vinegar&Brown Paper.
You don’t necessarily have to be Northern but you definitely need some grit to stay the distance. I love this little piece of inspiration from the brilliant mind of its creator Andy Poplar. My brother bought it for my birthday last year and I LOVE it.
It’s so easy to get lost in the day to day gubbins of running a business that we often lose sight of why we are doing this in the first place. We need to check in with our dreams on a regular basis to reconnect with our creative vision, stay on track, stay fresh and excited about our work and the direction we are heading in. To grow a business means not staying in the same place. Heaving yourself up off the floor when things aren’t going the way you planned and asking some pertinent questions.
What’s working? What’s not?
What do I love about my creative business? Why?
What don’t I like? Why?
What makes me unique?
What gaps do I have and what do I need to do or learn to fill them?
For my Benton’s Menagerie business as a maker of felted sculptures, for example, I will be launching a new initiative in September because I’ve been asking myself these very questions. I felt stuck in a rut and was beginning to feel under pressure to churn stuff out and that’s just not how I work and that’s not where the love and pleasure of making resides for me. I needed to re-think and move in a new direction. The new idea came out of both reflecting on what I really want out of my business as well as responding to a gut feeling that this is a good direction for me. Gut feelings are TOTALLY your best friend in this game. Not to be confused with the gut wrenching feelings of fear. Making a decision based on fear is not the best idea, except if you are booting fear up the back end and doing it anyway. Trusting your gut is simply about trusting yourself. Trusting that you totally have your own back.
I digress, to launch my new initiative and to grow this business, I’m aware that I have skills and knowledge gaps. So I took myself off to the bright lights and big city of Bristol to brush up on some business skills with a workshop from The Design Trust and came away with new ideas, tools and lashings of inspiration. I’m also acutely aware that I really need to look at harnessing social media in a far more proactive and creative way to reach new customers that might be interested in my business. The thing is I just haven’t really got much of a clue how to do that. So I’m looking for help and looking to learn from people who are way better at this than I am.
And that’s it in a nutshell. If you want to learn, look at those you admire. Learn from those who are already doing what you’d like to do and doing it better than you. Don’t ask your mate who is in the same position as you because if they had the answer they’d be doing it already and growing the heck out of their own business instead of moaning down the pub about how nobody ‘gets them’.
This is about looking at best practise business skills. To grow your business you need to grow your business skills. It’s the very reason why I launched Build a BossAss Creative Business in the first place. There are things I need to learn and people who can teach that stuff. I figured that there must be other creatives out there who need to learn stuff too.
I look forward to meeting some of you at a BossAss workshop or networking event.
And if there’s something in particular that you’d like on the agenda – drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.