THE Creativity Chronicles
You would be surprised how often I get asked this question. I get asked it so much that I’m turning it into a blog post. What are the biggest lessons I’ve learned in business? I set up for myself 6 years ago this month and it’s been one hell of a journey. I’ve made as many cock-ups as anyone starting out and there’s a whole lot of learning happening on a daily basis but if I was sat with myself 6 years ago having a cuppa, here’s what I would say:
There’s a reason there’s contracts:
Yes, it’s really cool that you don’t want to have contracts with your clients or be tied in. It’s an attractive sales point and it’s kind of different when everyone else has contracts in place. But, there’s a reason for that y’know? Contracts protect everyone.
You don’t have to grow
Bigger doesn’t mean better. Don’t feel you have to grow in order to be successful. Growing brings challenges too such as high overheads, reduced quality, managing a team and worst of all, not doing the work you love. Which brings me to tip 3:
Don’t be all things
Just do the work you love. What you’re talented at. Let go of everything else. Forget social media management if you just want to write because most of what you’ll end up doing is messaging people about a table they booked and how they want organic carrots instead of non-organic (snooze).
Listen to your gut
Your gut knows if that client is going to be trouble, it knows if a project is on your wavelength and it knows who has your back and is on your team. Listen to your inner compass and you won’t go far wrong.
Not everyone will like you
In fact, some people won’t like you at all or may be very envious of who you are and what you do (their fantasy of you anyway). This means that they may say or do hurtful things or worse still, try to prevent you doing well. My biggest tip on this one? Walk away!
Do what you love
It’s such a cliché but for ages I thought work meant work. Hard slog, tough, nose to the grindstone. But there is such a thing as the holy grail of all work: the stuff you love. That perfect combination when a great client + an exciting project + your creative inspiration all come together at once and it doesn’t feel like work anymore. That’s where the sweet spot is, where you love your job and wake up every day feeling energised and ready to jump out of bed. Once you know that work exists you can start to decline the sludge work that leaves you wanting to stay in bed and press ‘snooze’ for eternity.
What kind of person would you attract if you put out all the things in an online dating profile that you thought you should? Sure, you could make yourself appear flawless and you’d receive loads of interest but you wouldn’t find your life partner because everything you said was to attract someone rather than be yourself. It’s the same in business – be who you are, offer what you offer and stand in your light – you won’t be right for everyone but you don’t want everyone, just the handful of perfect fit clients that want you just as you are.
Boundaries are the business
R.E.S.P.E.C.T – it all starts with boundaries. You have working hours, that’s when people can reach you. You have working contact points, that’s how they can access you. But you are not your work. No client has the right to text/phone/Facebook their way into your life as and when they fancy it, you have work time and life time. You set those limits and you ensure you respect them so that clients do as well. People will always want one more minute of your time, just another little job they need done. You cannot say yes to everyone and everything: say yes to yourself first.
Work out what you want
Don’t get stuck in the cycle of wanting more and more because winning business is your win. More business and more money is great but what are you doing it for? For me, it got to the point where I was a full blown workaholic and didn’t even know what I was doing it for anymore, it was just a never-ending treadmill of deadlines and client demands. When you work out what your goals are you can plan towards them. Want to move house? Send your child to a certain school? Take weekends off? Learn a new language? Factor it in and work to the life you want, not to a never-ending circuit of growth and wealth because real wealth encompasses a whole lot more than chasing dolla dolla bills!
Protect your time
Every meeting will over-run if you let it, everyone wants five minutes on the phone or just a second to work on something with you. But the truth is, most people don’t know how to manage their time so because of this, they work in a knee-jerk fashion and drag you into their chaos. Put your own time management systems in place: start with writing down your top 1-3 objectives every evening for the following day then ensure these 3 things are achieved every day and that you’re making progress on actual goals rather than small pointless jobs that don’t project you forward. Block like with like work together, put meetings together so you’re not travelling every five minutes unnecessarily and protect your prime time ruthlessly, that time when you’re at your most creative and do your best work. Time thieves are everywhere including internally (oooh I’ll just look at Facebook/read a magazine/catch up on social media) – schedule social media time, don’t let pointless non-goal focused activities sway you from your schedule.
Those are ten tips that I’ve had to learn the hard way by messing up and putting procedures in place to prevent it going wrong again! What is your biggest tip you’ve learned?