Tara here. I know many of you are just starting on this adventure of building a business and brand of your own. Welcome to the wild ride! Some of you are starting on a career path working within an organization (it may not feel as wild as going rogue, but you’re still carving out your way!) Hello to you, too.
But! I’m not talking to the “just starting outers” right this moment. Nope. I’m talking to the “been-around-the-blockers.” You are at a fork, a bend, a crossing, or you simply want to stop going around this same block and try some new territory. You aren’t just starting out on this journey – you are transitioning your business or your expertise into “what’s next” for you.
And for some reason, this transition can feel a lot less exciting than the early days of starting something completely new, and frankly, more daunting.
Why does transitioning our business, our brand, or simply our expertise feel harder than starting from scratch? It’s not. We just forget how hard it was in the beginning.
When we remember the excitement of those first days, everything—even when it was small—felt big: “The first client! The first dollar! The website finally launching! The product growing! The first hire! This is working! This is sustaining! This is exceeding what I imagined!”
In retrospect, the not-so-exciting, awkward, or stressful stuff somehow seem minimized. Those early trial and error days at worst are remembered like well-earned war stories, and at best seem almost cutely naive: “Remember when I took on that project that was completely bonkers? Remember when I hosted that workshop and only ten people came? Remember when I thought my specialty was going to be A., but it turned out to be Z? Silly me! Those were the days, ha ha ha. Sigh.”
So when we look forward to what’s next for us, why do we all of the sudden become so unforgiving of any trial and error, completely annoyed by any awkwardness at all, and somehow no longer interested in the fun parts? Why is the dreaming part replaced with grim determination? Is it because we know too much? The problem is, knowing better doesn’t necessarily feel better.
Maybe you’re different. Perhaps you love a really earth-shattering evolution. You don’t mind being out of your depth again. When I try something completely new for my career or business, I tend to feel like an anxious sixth grader starting middle school, and all my fifth grade rule-the-school swagger is totally knocked off center.
You’re smarter and more experienced than when you started out – but that doesn’t always equate to feeling more confident when you’re in transition. It’s hard going back to feeling like the new kid on the block.
Here are some of the goals we hear all the time (and have tackled ourselves) that get us into this transition in the first place – and then later get us asking “What did I do!? Why didn’t I leave well enough alone!?”
The transition to each of these milestones isn’t always fun. But, guess what, it’s worth it once you get there! So I want to give you a few reminders to help you remember to, well, at least TRY to have fun along the way, to get excited again, and to feel like this leg of your journey is just as fresh as the first time around:
We love helping creative entrepreneurs package themselves more clearly, to feel purpose-fueled and professional (yup, at the same time!) and blend who they are into what they do. If you’re a solopreneur, sign up for our Letters for Creatives in the sidebar.
We’ve also just launched a new offering for you creatives, marketing and communications specialists who are working within organizations. Check out BraidCreative.com/TeamVisioning for ideas on how you can reinspire and reframe what’s next for your team. While you’re at it you can sign up for our Branding & Marketing Letters for Businesses, where we’ll bring you fresh perspectives from out in the creative entrepreneur world as well as our own advertising agency experience (but also maybe… gasp!… some fun and personality!) into the work you do together.
SHARE THIS +
Tara here. I have to say, I have more people ask me about my writing shed lately! I told Kathleen that it seems I’ll be having conversations about it for years to come! I don’t mind. I love it. I love when you can shape your space to feel creative, safe, focused, energized – or simply like “this is what I pictured! This is the vision for what I want my working life to look like!” That not only feels fulfilling, but it feels legit!
But where we work, just like where we live, has as much to do with the physical environment as it does the people we share it with. My shed is pretty solitary in the physical sense. But I’m always Skyping with clients and coworkers every day.
Many of you working on your own find the same kind of kinship and collaborative spirit online, or you make a point to step out to the local coffee shop or co-working space at least a couple times a week.
Some of you work within an organization or larger team. I see you out there too. I was one of you and I loved it too—from water cooler chatter about your favorite show to team meetings with wild doodling and brainstorming and planning, with people who – well, I’m gonna say it,
Home is where the heart is. But so is work. It’s not like we just turn off our personality, our interests, our humanity, or our natural inclination toward happiness, comfort, and kinship just because we’re at work.
If you find yourself saying “uh, yeah, I kinda just put on my blinders and try to get through the day when I’m at work,” then you need to stop, drop, and come up with a new plan for what you want your work to actually feel and look like. You’re in the right place. If anyone is going to inspire you to vision out your working life, it’s Braid. (Hint: just start with this blog post and read backward—ha!)
But! If you start thinking about the last person you had a great conversation with online or a client who by the end of your time together felt like a magical bond had been created, or if you work within a team and a certain coworker popped up in your mind like “yeah, I could never do it without Gretchen, not only does she ‘get me’ she gets it done!” then I’d say, tell them.
I am the worst at this I have to admit – at acknowledging the people around me for how awesome they are. I’m about nose-to-the-grindstone and getting it done. (Yes in a shed that looks like a mini-cottage surrounded by a garden, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a hard working Hobbit!)
If work is where the heart is, then telling the people you work with that you love and value them shouldn’t be that big of a stretch… right?
The way I see it, I share these moments of “love” with clients when I give them above and beyond what they ever imagined. I know I’ve told their story in a way that is magical and will change how they think about themselves and their work from this moment forward. That’s the moment. And then I move on to the next task at hand. Chop chop, let’s not dilly-dally here. (Maybe I’m more Mary Poppins than a Hobbit, now that I think of it).
How I share these moments of “love” with my colleagues and peers is when I give to them as much as I expect them to give to me. For example, if I want you to design a project for me faster than usual, I’m going to give you one rock-solid outline of content and then some in return. Give, take, equal effort—for me, that’s also a form of love.
But, I should say it too. If work is where the heart is, then telling people you love and value them shouldn’t be that big of a stretch, right? I might have to check our human resource policies here at Braid. Oh, right, we don’t have any! Okay, watch out Braid, my love is about to come your way today!
I’ve been having a new visitor to my shed lately—our newest member of our team, Holly, one of my favorite brainstorm and planning partners (and TV show water cooler conversationalists) who is helping us to launch a new offering for teams. Very exciting. Check it out here! You can also sign up for our newsletters especially for those of you who might not be
SHARE THIS +
When you’re a creative entrepreneur it seems like your business is always changing, even when you’re just predictably ticking right along, project-by-project. For starters, what you do and sell just keeps getting better with practice. Naturally (or intentionally!) your following and your reputation grow. For some, the growth is slow and steady, for others, it’s a flurry, and for most of us, it’s a mix of both.
Tara here. Whether you’re a hot spark or a slow burn, a tortoise or a hare, (you guys know which one I am, slow and steady wins the race, right?) – the longer you work in the business you’ve created for yourself, the more clearly you know what you like, what you love, and what you’d rather not do any more at all.
“The longer you work in the business you’ve created for yourself, the more clearly you know what you love & what you’d rather not do any more at all.”
So I want to talk about those times when we’re not just routinely ticking along. What about those times when you are completely energized, preoccupied, even agitated, by a new idea for your business—an idea that would take your business (and your life) to a way of working that you would really love. What happens when your own inner-hare starts thump-thump-thumping and wants to take off!?Your vision for “what’s next” might be...
Do more than just one of these scenarios sound like what you want, too? Ask yourself, is your brand helping you make these transitions, or is it holding you back? It may seem a little like putting the cart before the horse, but often it’s the changes we make to our brand— our messages, how we frame up our offerings, and a shift in style and tone (like embracing more of our personal brand alongside the professional)—that helps us stay motivated through a transition, that helps us share this change with other people with more confidence, and definitely helps people know how to engage with us and our business – in this entirely new way.
“Is your brand helping you make your business vision transition – or is it holding you back?”
Even though I’m all for brands matching (heck, actually pre-paving!) where we want to go with our business vision, I’m not a fan of throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to your business and expertise. For example, if you want to transition from one-on-one work to launching a one-to-many product, what are the ingredients that are making their way into this new offering, that still come from your experience and expertise?
Can you restructure your offering and reframe your brand messaging without starting over from scratch? Absolutely. I think the goal for a brand in transition is to get it reflecting a 50/50 mix of a.) how you actually work now + b.) how you want to be working going forward. Look at your website, your recent social media posts, even your last three projects. What parts can stay as a valid, legit part of your brand? Which parts can go to make room for the new vision you want to share?
How do we structure and frame up our own offerings behind the scenes at Braid? We shared our practices (and answered your questions!) about growing the business vision we had in our own heads (and hearts), not only in our early days but in our own times of transition. Learn how we get hired for our one-on-one expertise (my older sister vision!) while also reaching more people and launching new products (Kathleen’s younger sister vision!) in our Braid webinar. Catch the replay: Sign up here!
SHARE THIS +