These days, it’s pretty simple to figure out how to start, operate and grow a creative business from scratch. Well, ok. It’s not exactly that simple to figure out. But the information and answers are out there available for you (and a lot of it is free).
Problem is, having access to endless steps, strategies and suggestions from some of the industry’s most successful leaders is doing more harm than good for a lot of ambitious business owners.
Well, if you’re a do-er like me, then there’s a hint of temptation to implement every step, strategy and suggestion presented to you -- especially when someone you admire, respect and/or trust is the one presenting it.
I started Jess Creatives just over 5 years ago, and it didn’t take me long to realize that I would experience serious overwhelm, among a bunch of other issues, if I actually attempted to do #AllOfTheThings. (And 5 years ago, #AllOfTheThings wasn’t even a thing....neither was Snapchat, or really Instagram...or a whole bunch of the other things we’re constantly prompted to try and implement in our businesses today. Ahh, simpler times.)
So, in this post I want to share the one thing you need in your book if you want to filter the steps, strategies and suggestions that are actually right for you. And I’ll share an example of my own decision-making process that I use to evaluate new opportunities -- plus, how it helped me realize that doing everything isn’t the key to success.
How I filter: if #AllOfTheThings don’t align with your my values, don't do it.
Staying true to your core values, in every aspect of your business, will set you apart from your competition and attract the right customers/clients to you. Stray too far from those core values, and you’ll lose what it is that drives the work you do (also, don’t be surprised if your customer base starts to dwindle).
Like I said, one risk of being an action-taker who’s quick to implement, is the temptation to allow so-and-so’s most recent “6-Figure Secret”, or the Top 10 Tips that Joe Schmoe shared on a webinar yesterday -- to determine all of your next steps.
Of course, following someone else’s steps to success can potentially help you become successful, as well; but, you have to evaluate new opportunities, ideas, tactics and strategies by considering your core values first.
For example, earlier this year, I started hearing more and more about the power of video, and of being on YouTube. I thought it sounded like a good idea and a great way to stand out. But, that wasn’t enough evidence that for me to invest the time and energy in diving in just yet. First, I had to cross-check the idea with my core values:
For me to commit to doing these videos, they would need to serve a clear purpose beyond being adding that surface-level wow-factor for my audience.
I’m all about empowering people to manage their own websites, or any other design project they might need to tackle. Having a library of different videos to send to clients helps me put some extra "wow" in my client experience. They’d serve the purpose of educating and empowering clients.
If educating my clients wasn't a priority, starting a YouTube channel would not have had as much purpose. This may be the biggest core value for ANY entrepreneur to prevent overwhelm. If you don't have a clear goal in mind, or a purpose behind every move, you'll to-do list will be ever-growing.
I'm a firm believer in working hard in your business, not just expecting clients to roll in because you have a website. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, "Ideas are meaningless, it's execution that matters." This one doesn’t require much more explanation because it totally aligned with the idea of creating videos for two reasons:
They’d require some extra effort on my end, but I wouldn’t be cutting corners in regards to setting my audience up for success.
It would require my audience a little extra effort if they wanted to get value from the tutorials. They’d need to watch the video, and independently follow the steps to make changes. Of course, I’m always willing to help and encourage (see my #3 Core Value) as needed.
So now, let’s talk overwhelm. I have to say, I don’t experience it often with my personality and how I run my business. However, the few times I do, it's when I want to help way too many people at once. I have a problem saying no.
After all, there isn’t an entire Jess Creatives support team waiting to assist you. It’s all me. Trying to help and encourage as many people as I can. Over the years, I’ve had to scale the impact I’m making so that I can reach more people without working 24/7. My blog and YouTube channel are two ways that I do that.
The reason this is so important to me as a business owner, is because I know first-hand that running a business is hard. There are enough nay-sayers and haters out there already, I don't want to add to that noise.
Of course, video tutorials for my clients and readers is, in the grand scheme of things, generous.
There are plenty of designers out there who “design and dash.” They design a website, send an invoice, make revisions, get paid and part ways with the client. There are also a lot of people who don't like to share their knowledge with the world – as evidenced by my blog and YouTube channel, that's not the case here...
Decide What You Won’t Do
Now that you’ve seen how I evaluated the decision to start including video tutorials for my clients using my core values, I’m sure you can imagine how often I run through the same process and wind up with a big NO. There’s a lot I decide NOT to do: webinars, Facebook ads, the list goes on…
It's not to say that I won't ever do webinars or Facebook ads, but it just isn't a good fit for me right now. Every business has seasons – maybe you spend one quarter focusing on client experience, and another quarter focusing on passive income.
There's also something to be said about not doing things you hate. If you continually keep doing things in your business that you don't enjoy (and I'm not talking about taxes...), eventually you will wake up and be running a business you don't love.
Even if a mentor or my best biz friends or my competitors are seeing success with a certain step, strategy and suggestion, if it’s not aligned with my core values, I don’t do it.
And I can feel no #FOMO in making that choice.
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