Before I had my son, everyone told me that being a parent was the hardest and best job I’d ever have. And, they were right. One minute you’re crying because your little one splattered prune puree across your whole kitchen right as the doorbell rang, and the next you’re standing over his crib while he’s sleeping and you’re weeping and overflowing with gratitude because this tiny perfect human actually exists.
Even if you don’t have kids, this scenario may sound familiar. It totally reminds me of the hardest/best job I had before parenthood, being a creative business owner. Much like being a parent, being a small business owner has tons of joyful and… let’s just say, not so joyful, moments. Making a living doing what you love is not easy. Can I get a hells yeah?!
I’ve been running my creative business for almost two decades and I’ll tell you, there have been some really high highs and some very lean times when I wasn’t sure if I could keep going (2020!).
There’s so much I had to learn the hard way because the resources that we have now just didn’t exist when I started. I want you to learn the easy way, gleaning lessons from my missteps and successes. That’s why I’m sharing three things that were instrumental in helping me build several six-figure businesses over the years.
1. Find your business besties
I was lucky in the beginning to have a friend who was also trying to turn her passion into her profession. When I think back on all those lean times of scrimping and saving, eating canned tuna sandwiches three meals a day, hoping we’d make it home from selling our artwork on the Venice Beach Boardwalk on the ⅛ of a tank of gas we had, or sharing a two-bedroom apartment with three other girls… I really don’t think I would have persevered if we didn’t have that camaraderie. We were able to talk through our second-guessing of our decisions to follow our passions, bounce ideas off of each other, and share business skills we had built up through trial and error.
If you don’t have a built-in business bestie like I did, you can reach out through a Facebook group or social media and start a mastermind group or accountability pod.
I wanted to echo that experience I was lucky enough to have in my early business days at Camp Dear Handmade Life, our six-week at-home craft, business and goal-getting summer camp experience for creatives. That’s why we created our virtual cabins. We’ve taken the expert guidance of a mastermind group, the creative collaboration of a craft club, the support of an accountability partnership program and zipped them all together to make our Camp DHL Cabins.
When you register for Camp DHL, you can opt in to be custom connected to cabinmates who are a perfect match for you and whom you’ll meet with weekly. Whether you’re a business owner looking to scale up your business or you want to focus on self-growth or creativity, you’ll be matched with cabinmates who can help you on your journey.
2. invest in your business
When you’re just starting out and bootstrapping your business, the idea of investing in education through a course, program or conference seems like it should come last, like way last, because after all, it isn’t essential. BUT, investing in your business education IS essential and ends up saving you money and time in the long run.
Throughout the year I set aside money into an education fund, which I consider as necessary as putting aside money for sales tax, payroll, supplies or any other regular business expense.
Attending a branding workshop at a business conference helped me see my brand in a whole new light, which resulted in a total rebrand to unify our events and offers under one umbrella. That move saved us time and money because we basically ran three separate businesses and paid to maintain three websites, over a dozen social media accounts and more. This rebrand helped us solidify our message which, in turn, helped us attract more of our people and bigger sponsors. Was I nervous when I invested over $3,000 on tickets and travel expenses to attend that conference? YEP. But, just that one eye-opening experience in one workshop was worth the money and time ten-fold.
From getting mindset-shifting perspectives, to business skills that helped me automate tasks, to learning about new process-streamlining platforms – time and time again, the investments I made in courses, programs and conferences have been key in my business growth.
3. set S.M.A.R.T goals, and set them often
I’ve always been a die-hard goal setter. You can listen to my recent podcast about my childhood planner addiction and my three goals setting and getting secrets here. The thing about goals is, no matter how great they look on paper, no matter how decked out with markers and brush-lettering they are in your bullet journal, they’re going to stay in your bullet journal if you don’t take specific action to make them happen. Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals? It’s basically a checklist to make sure your goals are gettable.
When you have a goal in mind, run it through the S.M.A.R.T. system:
- Specific: make sure you know the task that you are trying to achieve.
- Measurable: how will you know if you are making progress towards it? How will you know if you have achieved it? This keeps the goal concrete.
- Attainable: determine that you have the ability with the resources you have (or can secure) to achieve this goal.
- Realistic: confirm that this goal makes sense for you, your vision of success, and your business.
- Timely: you have a clearly defined timeline for meeting you goal.
If it meets the criteria, then it’s time to break it up into small tasks and make it happen. I know, that sounds so easy, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. Two things will increase your chances of getting your goal:
- Accountability: that’s where your business besties that I was talking about come in.
- A framework: this is a tried and true system you can use to explore, define, prioritize and go after your goals.
If you feel like you could use some support and guidance with goal-getting, Camp Dear Handmade Life is coming to your rescue! You and your cabinmates will get six weekly themed itineraries of guided small group discussions, hands-on solo and group projects, thoughtful exercises, weekly activities and special bonuses – all designed to help you turn goals from one day into done today!