There’s this idea that when you work for yourself, especially as a creative entrepreneur, you are living the dream. The fantasy goes like this: you’re making things with your hands, brainstorming over coffee with creative colleagues, and doing so much yoga that you can finally get into complicated arm balances. But you know, and I know, that being your own boss isn’t so easy. Balancing work and life, paying the bills, wearing all the hats … it’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t always feel so dreamy.
Kathleen here. I write a lot about being your own boss here on the Braid blog, I give a peek behind the curtains of how we work in our exclusive Letters for Creatives, and I share snippets of my life in between it all, over on my personal blog, And Kathleen. So it’s been a long time coming, but now I’m finally launching a podcast called Being Boss. I’m teaming up with my good friend and creative confidant Emily Thompson of Indie Shopography, and every week we’ll be candidly talking to you, fellow bosses and aspiring-to-be’s, about the good and bad, the ups and downs – of being boss.
BEING THE BOSS
“Being The Boss” means being able to manage, plan, organize, invest, delegate, and make tough decisions. It’s not easy and doesn’t always come naturally to a lot of us creatives who just want to make a living doing what we love. But learning how to be the boss is how you make living the dream profitable.
“Being Boss” is an attitude. It’s confidence, being all in, stepping into uncertainty without losing your cool, and most of all being unapologetically who you are 100% of the time. “Boss” is an adjective that came on the scenes in the 1950s – it means cool or awesome. “That motorcycle jacket is boss!” But I love the Urban Dictionary definition written by Tiffany aka Ya Girl Miss Tiff: "Boss. noun - a person who is a leader, someone who runs shit in his/her hood or city. Example: If you got more than $100 G's in the bank and stackin paper every day, more than likely you are a Boss."
So yeah, we’re going to talk about stackin paper, setting goals for ourselves, and getting sh*t done – all the things that make us feel “Boss.” But there’s going to be a lot of talk about love, too, love for what we do, love for what we’ve created, and love for you guys out there trying to do the same.
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BEING BOSS PODCAST
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Every creative entrepreneur we work with wants to feel like an expert – like a wearing-the-pants and legit-know-my-stuff kind of expert. The kind of expert that doesn’t doubt their decisions and feels like an authority over their craft. These creatives want to feel like the kind of expert that has a roster full of clients who respect their guidance and are never treated like pixel-pushing order takers. Our clients want to feel like the kind of experts who get paid well… like experts.
But what’s interesting is that a majority of our clients balk at the word “expert”. They have a lot of fears and misconceptions around taking on that kind of bold title – that if they start to think of themselves as an expert it means they’ll have to have all the answers or be smarter than everyone in the room. That they’ll be responsible for every problem thrown their way. But that is hardly the case.
Kathleen here, and I want to share a few ways to step into your creative expertise by describing the characteristics I’ve seen in experts I admire:
EXPERTS ARE NEUTRAL
Experts don’t get bent out of shape, defensive, or riled up when they receive criticism – and on the flip side they don’t get too excited or inflated by positive feedback or big wins. Experts are cool, calm, and collected. Not to say they don’t get passionate, fired up, funny or even dramatic, but it’s typically around an exciting idea, method, insight, or point-of-view that they feel strongly about, not about this one piece of work that the client must love, or else pouting and/or shouting ensues.
EXPERTS TAKE A PAUSE
I studied a lot of TED talks before giving my own talk at the Circles Conference, and one thing I noticed is that really great speakers aren’t afraid to pause when they need to collect their thoughts. This is also true for responding to clients in meetings, via email, or deciding whether to commit to a new engagement or opportunity. Experts aren’t afraid to collect the information (or the thoughts) they need before responding. I’m one who likes to immediately respond to questions or fill any silence with the sound of my own voice, so I’m practicing the pause in order to feel a little more like a creative expert in my own work and life.
EXPERTS TRUST THEMSELVES “IN THE MOMENT”
On the flip-side, Tara, my sister and Braid co-creative expert will tell you, that if you abuse the pause, it can become a crutch or replacement for being able to speak your mind and trusting yourself in-the-moment. A creative expert is comfortable in natural flow of a back-and-forth conversation... because they trust themselves (mostly), and know when to ask questions, or admit when they are speaking outside of their creative expertise. For example, during decision-making moments like I mentioned above, the pause can serve you, but sometimes the pause can really kill a dynamic back-and-forth collaboration that’s happening in real time. And, really, shouldn’t your clients feel like collaborators in your process, just as much as you shouldn’t feel like an order taker? Yes. There was no pause before that “yes.”
EXPERTS RECOGNIZE PATTERNS
Experts are able to see patterns and instantly recognize disconnects in their work. This is because they’ve narrowed in on their niche and know their customers so well they could practically be psychics for them. Recognizing patterns is how you are able to either speak-in-the moment or take pause and learn more, especially when something doesn’t quite fit with what your creative experiences have taught you. Recognizing patterns will allow you to create content (blog posts, newsletters, e-courses, and e-books) that will resonate with a broad audience beyond your one-on-one clients, and your readers will question how you “know them so well” or “are in their head” without ever having met them. For example, I’ve recognized that all of my clients want to meditate more – so I’ve included a little bit of meditation guidance in my DIY Coaching for Creatives email sessions and have even touched on it in my blog posts.
EXPERTS HAVE CLEAR BOUNDARIES
Experts know what they will and will not do. They make expectations clear and concise. Experts know how to tell you what you will get when you work with them – they demystify the process so their clients feel reassured investing in their services. Experts show up on time, meet deadlines, and do what they say they’ll do.
EXPERTS CHARGE MORE
Experts charge not only for their time but for their experience. The beauty of charging more upfront is that you rarely feel resentful and tend to over-deliver with pleasure rather than nickel-and-dime your clients when asked for small extras.
EXPERTS SAY NO
Experts aren’t afraid to say no to a project that isn’t the right fit. This is because they respect the prospective client enough to know that someone else could do the job better. They also know it would take up time and energy they could be using to better serve someone with their core genius.
EXPERTS DON’T KNOW (OR DO) IT ALL
And they aren’t afraid to say it. Admitting that you don’t have all the answers is a big display of creative confidence. And there is a lot of integrity to saying “no” to a client or project that isn’t a good fit for what your expertise.
EXPERTS HAVE OPINIONS
If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the word “expert” think of it like this – experts have enough experience to have a point-of-view – they have meaningful opinions and aren’t afraid to speak on them.
So you want to feel more like a creative expert? Start by asking yourself these questions:
Our most popular Braid ECourse Personal Branding: Blending Who You Are With What You Do will be in session from November 14 - 23 and is great for bloggers, creative professionals, and aspiring entrepreneurs want to feel more aligned both at work and play. See if it’s a good fit and register here.
Need more guidance on being a creative expert? Check out my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions – it’s $40 for four weeks of content that will help you dig deep so you can uncover the good stuff and make decisions about what’s next.
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Have you heard about the Law of Attraction? The idea, as I’ve come to understand it, is that if you can visualize what you want, it is yours – that your emotions, thoughts, and feelings set into motion what comes your way. So if you’re negative, you will probably attract even more negativity into your life. And on the flip-side if you focus on the positive more good things will come your way. I believe this to be true on a universal “woo-woo” level – that when you get clear, set intentions, and “put it out there” you begin to attract what you want without a whole lot of effort.
Kathleen here. I see the Law of Attraction show up in my life on a daily basis. I have noticed that whatever I’m interested in personally, is what I seem to attract professionally. For example, when I really started diving into my yoga practice I started attracting a bunch of yogis as clients. When I got pregnant I found that we were being hired by more and more doulas, midwives, and postpartum health coaches. When I get fired up about food I start attracting foodies – from Paleo cookbook authors and experts to juice cleanse coaches and raw food fanatics and everything in-between. Even my more rational business partner and co-workers will tell you that there is a little bit of mojo at play when it comes to attracting these dream customers. But you don’t have to be a magician to make the Law of Attraction work for you too.
If you’re skeptical about the Law of Attraction here is a more practical breakdown of how to make it work for you:
STEP 1: GET CLEAR ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT
The first step to attracting the good stuff is to get clear about what it is you want. What do you want in your business? If it’s new clients what do you want those clients to be like? Is it more money? If so, write down exactly how much you want to make this year. Is it a beautiful home or a badass wardrobe? Maybe start a Pinterest moodboard so you can visualize what that looks like.
STEP 2: PUT IT OUT THERE
Start writing about, talking about, and thinking about the stuff you want. Make it a priority to share the stuff you like – personally and professionally – at home, at work, over coffee, while you’re networking. The more you can have other people thinking about your goals the more likely it is someone will think of you when the opportunity to fulfill those wishes presents itself.
STEP 3: TAKE NOTE WHEN IT BECOMES REAL
The most important part of making the Law of Attraction work for you is to take note when you wishes come true. Perspective is everything – your thoughts make your reality. I recently read that the only difference between lucky people and unlucky people is mindset. Oops! I’m starting to get even a little more woo-woo-meets-business here. Okay, so for example – when Tara and I started Braid Creative I said “I want to work with someone famous and I want to make $X amount of money.” Well, just a year in we landed Brené Brown as a client (a personal hero of mine who found us when I did a book review of Daring Greatly and shared it with her via Twitter – that’s an example what “putting it out there” looks like) and three years in we just now hit a big money goal. If I had not set those goals in the first place I might see these events as one-time flukes or quickly go on to raise the bar without properly acknowledging these accomplishments.
Try this: write down a list of 5 things you want to attract. Get as specific as you can about these desires. (So don’t write “I want to attract money.” Instead write down “I want to make $1,000 in one week.” Or whatever your money goal is.) Put these five goals or desires on a post-it note that lives on your mirror or computer so you can see it everyday. Take note when these goals become a reality (and they will).
Our new ECourse Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise and Attract What You Track is now open for registration. We share more secrets for attracting dream customers by getting narrow with what you offer. This ECourse will be in-session from September 19-29. Learn more and see if it’s a fit here.
And if you like a good mix of woo-woo meets practical steps for living the dream – in work and life – you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s just $40 for four weeks of guidance. You can sign up here to receive these emails straight to your inbox anytime.
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