Being a “Business Lady”, especially with some #Boss going on, often needs more than ‘fake it till you make it,’ especially if you are aiming at professionalizing in a way that turns ‘getting by’ to ‘profit,’ aka a living wage. Coming from community based organizing subculture, I was looking for a mental cultural shift – one that would allow me to succeed at ‘adulting.’
The thing is, I have a lot to offer! I know this, I’ve known this, I’ve done great things over the years, but professionalizing ones business and taking skills to the next level of ‘Business’ was a learning curve. One can be super organized when it comes to projects that are focused on other people, but sometimes bringing that same energy and advice back home can be easier said than done. Here are a few things that I found über-helpful in redirecting/focusing my vision, passion, skills – aka, the unique and desirable services I provide and greatly enjoy doing!
#1. It’s ok to ask for help!
As someone who has held management and director positions on projects, I tend to think that my skills/experience equal me already having all the knowledge needed. Being able to do research and admit the knowledge/skill areas that need growth is a strength and will help you succeed that much faster. I’ve gone to countless friends and mentors asking for ideas and support. I’ve gone to the department of licensing and department of revenue, as well as local business networks and online platforms gathering all the information and feedback I could glean on how this works. A big part was me figuring out the ‘what’ not just the ‘how.’ Asking for support, resources and networking was vital to me moving up.
#2. Clear First Steps
I already had a website, which I changed from an artist profile page to a ‘hire me’ focus profiling my skills and current/past gigs. But I still was not articulating my actual services, how to hire me, pricing, showing sample work – all the info people need in order to become clients and actually hire me! This was a problem. I kept spinning with too many ideas and possible directions, thinking too much about what I ‘should’ do for work and not actually moving forward. What I needed to do was change my headset, stop worrying so much about ‘should’ and focus on my passion. But most importantly, I had to start taking myself seriously! This is where ‘Business Lady’ came in. I created a folder on my desktop with this title, put all by business related folders into it, and gave myself permission to puff up and feel good about what I was doing, both my self confidence as well as the excitement around what I was putting out in the world!
#3. Envisioning yourself as a ‘Lady Boss’
The lull due to my feeling of overwhelm which resulted in inaction on my website and business required a new way of looking at things. So, like a social media savvy millennial, I created a Pinterest ‘Career: Living the dream’ board. And, unbeknownst to me, Pinterest was in fact chalked full of amazing articles and posts about how to run your own business as a young entrepreneur, often focused on independent women business owners! This vision board for my career became a visual reflection of what I wanted to realize in my life, which really helped my ‘go get it’ self-led campaign! It might seem small, but, looking at cute office set ups and reading through smart, accessible and encouraging posts about running your own business felt really good! Who knew pinterest offered more than interior design and recipes! In my life, I always try to dress for success, have cute business accessories and an attractive online presence, but visualizing my ‘Business Lady’ personal-mentality reality really helped give me the confidence to keep moving forward. There were all these smart, hip young women running their own show, and there was no reason I couldn’t join the party!
#4. Tools for success
In the same vein of “It’s ok to ask for help!” – looking specifically at what sort of support and learning you need to focus on is key. Through my Pinterest ‘Career: Living the dream‘ board, I found links to tons of blog posts and checklists, some helpful and some not. But one source that I have become a super fan of is The Think Creative Collective! One thing I love about them is that they are two strong, fancy, hip ladies who make things look cute, and they are so super positive and supportive (and it feels real). I also love that they also are not in LA or NYC and they are rockin’ it out of Tulsa and Kansas City! The founders, Abagail and Emylee, run a comprehensive and successful business that supports mostly female creative business owners by offering free and low-cost courses, having a plethora of helpful blog posts, as well as providing an amazing online community for other entrepreneurs.
After finding them through Pinterest and realizing how spot-on their material was, I decided to throw down and invest in myself/my business, paying the $29 for their “Trello for Business” course. Trello is a free app with great organizational abilities, and paying a small amount to get walked through with instructional videos and being able to have all the incredible organizational structures and cute backgrounds they created, was wayyy worth it. I loved it! It was both a time saver and a really helpful tool. Doing this course made me realize what a difference taking some classes made, that I don’t have to do and learn everything by myself, even if, and especially because I am mostly working by myself.
I also signed up for Think Creative’s free 7-day course “Spark Your Creativity: 7 Steps to Ignite Your Business,” which I’m enjoying and finding helpful as well. Learning, gaining resources and getting outside support I came to find are essential. I now have a solid list of the all the courses I want to take, from small business management, to Premiere and Photoshop classes/mentoring to brushing up on my skills.
#5. Let yourself dream
In going through the Think Creative Collective’s blogs, I also found something that hit the nail on the head, something I still hadn’t settled -> What my business was offering and to whom?
The blog post I found was “Defining Who You Want to Work With: The All New Way of Finding Your Ideal Client.” It is all about figuring out the unique aspects of who your ideal client is, which points directly back to who you are and what kind of business / services you will offer. The reason I framed this point as “letting yourself dream” is because, if I get to be ‘me’ and I can choose the amazing people I work for, then the world is in fact my oyster and I can follow what feels good – I can dream big. By not settling, or trying to be generic enough for ‘everyone,’ I am offering something really special, which makes it desirable (with the right tweaking and feedback of course). The problem I’d been having was that I was sitting down and beating my brow, trying to coming up with the ‘smart idea’ of how to get clients and earn money. But in fact, the key to success is actually that one must focus on true passion, interest, skills, style and then audience! When you have something that you love doing that meets the needs of others, there is quality and passion that, matched with skills and demand, make for something unique, powerful and real – something worth paying for.
Make sure to check out the free “Defining Your Muse” worksheet in the link above – and take advantage of all the tools you can use to allow yourself to let go and dream big!
I would also recommend:
#6. Organize -> Articulate -> Launch
The Trello course gave me a new, even more structured approach to getting my myself situated, which, coupled with a budget (business expenses and desired income/clients), landed me a pretty solid ‘big picture’ to move forward with. Once I articulated my ‘muse,’ or dream client, paired with my skills turned services, I had a tangible idea of what actual proposals I would be able to start launching! (You can’t truly run your hustle until you know the one-of-a-kind thing you’re offering). Next I had to scope the field to see where I landed in the big scheme of things.
Now, you can do research before hand all these steps, and I actually had looked at other businesses in Seattle offering media production services as well as national/international businesses doing video + heritage. This first look helped double check I was using original names/branding, as well as getting a sense for the range of services being provided by other people. But I couldn’t adequately compare myself to other businesses until I had a solid handle on what my service/product was. But one key thing, besides seeing where I stood among other businesses, was that I needed to get a sense for professional pricing. I was doing this business after all so that I could support myself and pay my way while also being my own boss. As a part of taking myself seriously, the days of steeply undercharging for my services needed to be a thing of the past – you pay for what you get, and what I was offering was good stuff! The same mentality of investing in myself through paying for business related courses, needed to the value I placed on the best of my skills, knowledge and creativity. Charging a professional fee for paying clients who are also investing in themselves by obtaining your services is a crucial part of the lived reality of the “Business #Boss Lady.”
Once my website, service information, pricing and brand design were sorted, it was time. Now that I had a handle on my client base and my competitors, outreach strategies such as blogging about services and formalizing involvement in professional networking provided a system for my business to begin to launch and bring in clients. While it took me longer to launch than I had anticipated, because there are more steps involved than my sometimes-impatient-self would like to admit, all these steps were needed in order to get me from point A of spinning my wheels, to point B of being on point. Even all my amazing organizational skills, setting up a business was something that required some support and cheerleading from the outside – a good ‘you can do it!’
Having the cushioning of resources, motivation and important reminder check-lists helped me create the smooth business set up I had envisioned and knew I was capable of.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR READING!
I hope these tips, resources and personal processes help you tackle the road blocks around you being able to dream big and be your own “Business #Boss Lady”!!!
So many more things I could speak to – like, Why the aesthetic and verbage of ‘Boss Girl’ and the Think Creative Collective made me feel more comfortable starting my business. I’m also interested in further investigate entrepreneurial women and queer folks, getting inspiration and building community! Well, all in good time. More blog posts coming soon…continuing to explore #Boss Lady themes and other elements of standing strong in the working world.