Guest post by licensed Right-Brain Business Plan® Facilitator and Associate Coach Kiala Givehand
“It doesn’t matter what others call you. What matters is what name you answer to.” — African Proverb
When I begin working with a client I ask them to tell me several things: who they serve, what they call themselves, and what their business looks like behind the scenes. These three questions help me uncover whether or not they truly see themselves as business owners.
One of the first steps to owning a business, is owning the fact that you own a business. An entrepreneur thinks, plans, and implements differently than an employee or contractor. Unhealthy thinking keeps many creative entreprenuers in a perpetual state of uncertainty about their businesses. It’s this kind of thinking that feeds into the cylce of frustration around money, marketing, and managing the day to day of a business. It’s this kind of thinking that separates the business owner from the dabbling hobbyist.
Here are three ways you can shift your mindset today and take your business to the next level.
When someone asks you what you do for a living, your reaction is just as important as your response. Notice how that question makes you feel? Do you get excited when someone asks or do you want to tell them something like:
- “It’s complicated.”
- “It’s a long story.”
- “I dabble in lots of things.”
Or do you feel energized to share how you are using your gifts, talents, and passions with the world? The next time someone asks you what you do, have your answer ready — rehearsed — and rightfully own the fact that you are a business owner. Try saying something like:
“I own a business where I help people…” or “I’m an entrepreneur.” or “I own a __________________ business.” Say it with pride and clarity and notice how that feels in your body, heart, and mind.
BE CLEAR ON WHO YOU SERVE
I can’t stress this one enough — you must be clear on who you intend to serve. Who are your perfect customers? Not in a general sense, but in specific, detailed way that helps you grow a business quickly and easily. I say this from experience. When I started my first real business in 1999 I had no idea what a perfect customer was, I just knew I needed to make some money. So I started telling everyone what I was doing (editing websites, books, and any other written materials). It was okay at first, but because I wasn’t clear on who I really wanted to work with, I eventually got some really off-the-wall clients who I didn’t enjoy working with and whose work I didn’t want to edit after actually reading it.
Fast forward to today…I am extremely clear about who my perfect customers are and while it took me some time to get clear, now that I have, everything I do is about being of value to them and only them. Knowing my perfect customer makes my marketing stress-free, helps me be more intentional about my networking, speaking gigs, and the professional organizations I join. And believe it or not, knowing my perfect customer makes is so much easier to say no to clients when I know in my heart they are not a right fit for me and I’m not a right fit for them.
I wrote a two guest blog posts about knowing your perfect customer. If you are struggling in this area, you might find them helpful. The first one is here http://bit.ly/rbbb-pc and part two is here http://bit.ly/rbbp-pc2.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR OWN BEHIND THE SCENES
This probably sounds like it should be common sense, but even if it is, it’s worth saying here to remind you or to confirm for you that you are doing the right things. Many creative entrepreneurs want to see how everyone else is running their businesses behind the scenes. I’m guilty of wanting sneak peaks under the hood of successful businesses so trust me when I say, you need to do the same for your own business and with the same excitement you feel when you get to see behind the curtain of someone else’s operation.
This means you MUST get clear on your numbers. It means you have to know what money is coming in and what’s going out. It means you have to be really clear on the number of people on your lists (email, social media, etc.). And YES, it means you have to stop creating sometimes so that you can see what’s happening behind the creative vision of your business. The logistics of your business are just as important as the actual work you do to serve your perfect customers.
Running a business is not all fun and games. There’s some hard work involved in the day-to-day operations of a business. That’s why you need to know things like:
- where you are loosing money,
- if you have clients who are unhappy or behind on paying you,
- which systems are you ignoring
- and on, and on, and on…
Basically, you have to know how things run behind the scenes of your business, even if you have a team of folks surrounding you and helping keep things running smoothly, YOU need to at least know why you all do what you do in the background. What if an employee or team member leaves? Will you be able to keep going without them? You don’t have to do it all by yourself, but you do need to know what’s being done, why, and have a surface understanding of how it all happens.
Do these three things — Own It, Be Clear On Who You Serve, and Pay Attention to Your Own Behind the Scenes — to help you on your journey to moving from being a hobbyist to being a business owner. In the end, you must make a commitment to either making a real go at being in business or you have to declare it a hobby and keep yourself out of debt for something you only want to dabble in. It’s a hard truth that many don’t want to face. Are you facing your truth? Are you a business owner or a hobbyist?
Kiala Givehand, EdS, MFA, MA is the founder of Giving Hands Creative, Generations Literary Press, and HowToArtJournal.com. She has a unique perspective on what it means to be a multi-passionate business owner. As business strategist for creative female entrepreneurs, introverts, writers, & artists, Kiala uses her fierce energy to help her clients identify and embrace their gifts so they can empower their lives with passion and intentional success. You can visit her on her Website. Kiala is one of our licensed Right-Brain Business Plan:registered: Facilitators and a Right Brain Business Plan Associate Coach.