Creative Entrepreneur Business Tips
I guess I can call this month the month of business lessons and personal reflection. I made two blog posts that featured a total of 29 creatives who shared their 2016 business lessons and their goals for 2017. I loved the answers and advice, and in today’s post, I want to share my own biggest 2016 business lesson and advice. If you’re a creative running your own business, you know that comes with an array of roles, frustrations, victories and a whole lot of doubt. As I reflect on the last 9 years of being an entrepreneur, there’s been one business tip that’s helped me get where I am today and continues to guide me. And it’s actually one word: curiosity.
When I discovered SEO, it was like love at first sight. But then I hit this big wall because after all, SEO was a man’s world… a very techy man’s world, where this crazy Brazilian mom-boss was not welcomed. I felt intimidated, frustrated, confused and so dumb. But there was something inside of me that kept poking at me. You can call it gut instinct, God’s holy spirit if you are a Christian or intuition. I was curious, even though it was super confusing. It excited me. Yes, the thought of a perfect stranger finding my photography services online and booking me pumped me up.
So I listened to my curious spirit and pushed through. I pursued webinars and teachings, and I put the very little I understood into action. Then, something happened. I started seeing results. I was like, what? Whoa! My ghetto SEO, which was so non-techy, actually worked. My curiosity made me realize that I could do this for my business. I could make SEO practical and doable even if I didn’t understand it all. Did I imagine at that time I would be teaching how to get found online? NEVER. I was just excited I was getting new inquiries and helping answer questions in the old-school FB groups when fellow photographers asked. Then I began to be known as the SEO expert, though I felt they were speaking of someone else.
Then, two vital moments happened. If you wish to skip my personal story here, skip to the bottom where I share tips on how you can tap into your curiosity.
I had a free coaching call with Erika Lyremark, from the Daily Whip and I quickly mentioned SEO but went off to talk about another business venture at the time, and she was like, “Wait, go back. Tell me more about this SEO thing. I think there’s something there.” She did not know me at all, she was a complete stranger, but she saw a bigger vision for what SEO was going to look like in my life. I still shrugged and tucked that idea away. No way could I teach SEO. A few months after that, I had the pleasure of attending Lewis Howes’ creative live class all about creating an online business. I flew to Seattle on my birthday, pumped that I had been one of the chosen, in-person, live students. But, I actually went there hoping to launch an online store for my wedding blog. Once again, the topic of SEO came up, and every question I had was more related to the SEO example. There we learned all about using webinars to sell classes, and we also learned about online boot camp. Thank you, James Wedmore, Derek Halpern, and of course Lewis Howes for a rich 3-day workshop. It changed my life.
Recently, in listening to a preaching message by TD Jakes, he actually was talking about curiosity and instinct, and I loved what he said about listening to your instincts. I found some quotes of past messages where he spoke about instincts. Here are a few I liked.“When you’re living by instinct, then you will naturally enhance everything and everyone around you. In other words, success will come naturally! When both your intellect and instincts are aligned, then producing the fruits of your labors brings satisfaction beyond measure.” “Paying attention to what nourishes and stimulates your heart, soul, and imagination leads to listening to your instincts. In turn, listening to your instincts jump-starts the process of creating the fabric of your destiny. Like a designer sewing a garment, you take the vision within you and bring it to life in a suit to be worn for your next season of life. You are instinctively best at inventing what is in your inventory!” Instincts and imagination allow us to see opportunities where others see only limitations – instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we concentrate on what we do have – and what can be created from those ingredients.
So, what does this have to do with me, Fuse? Well, my fellow creative, I urge you to listen to your curious spirit. Listen to the voice within and listen carefully. Look for signs, and look for people that show up in your life. Book a free business consultation with experts who have the experience to help you talk about all of your ideas. Look at patterns in your life and people you encounter. Look for coincidences and signs. Do certain topics keep coming up over and over? Are you finding yourself always answering questions about that topic in FB groups? Is there a topic that you can go on and on about, and the info rolls off your tongue? My business bestie Erica says, “Wow girl, this stuff just rolls off your tongue.” It does because it is my passion. I love helping other creative businesses get found online so they can pursue their dreams. So if you are at a crossroads, feeling doubtful or want to start a new business venture, push through. Take action, even if it’s baby steps towards reaching those goals. Write those goals down on paper. Add a secret Pinterest board and save pins related to your goals, dreams, and location. Also, do a board for people you would love to meet and/or collaborate with.
A word of caution. Don’t get excited, and write down 100 gazillion ideas thinking you will implement it all on that day. Because right after you will feel like crap and get super overwhelmed. I am a recovering bipolar entrepreneur and sure now how I can go from I am great to I suck and no one will listen to me. To fight shiny ball syndrome and all these great ideas floating in my brain keeping me up at times. I now write them down in my big picture strategy board provided in the Trello for business course. You take a big idea and you then look at how you can break it down into quarter then monthly goals and tasks. Because it can be the best idea like ever but you won’t get the project or business pushed forward if you skip to the finishing line. You will actually get the door slammed in your face and will cry for days. So yes dream big, be curious but write down goals and smaller tasks you can take to push you through those goals. I recommend you check out this blog post of the Fempreneur Show where they discuss how to narrow down your course idea, but honestly same formula can be used about overall blog idea or what you want to sell etc. Also check out the Strategy Hour podcast from the TCC gals.
Another huge business lesson I learned in 2016 was about the power of collaboration. Click To TweetI had always heard about it, and I was collaborating when I pitched some guest blog posts, but no, I was not really doing it. I worked in my cocoon and I had my close business friends, but last fall in speaking at the Blink conference, I realized that I need to surround myself with more creatives going forward. I need to work on joint projects, and I need to outsource more. You see, you may be a solo business, but you can still get help and have a team. You can join or start a mastermind group to swap ideas. You can start a hashtag party on Instagram to help you promote each other’s businesses. You can start your own Facebook group or even start that newsletter you have been wanting to share. But there is power in collaborating, in going out to in-person events and conferences. Check out some cool creative conferences to attend here. You should also follow the lovely Cyndie Spiegel on Instagram. She is a business coach, a speaker and creator of The Collective of Us, a membership group of women bosses who want to collaborate. She teaches on the power of collaboration and asking for the pitch. Plus she is super real and great to follow on Instagram.
Geez, I did not mean for this post to be so long but I wanted to encourage you as January can be such a rough month. Bookings may be slow, inquiries seem non-existent and we have to work on tax stuff. So just some words of encouragement so you can kick ass in 2017.
If you are needing more like minded creatives to chat with, join the Fuse Lounge, my free Facebook group.