I was always an entrepreneur
I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t an entrepreneur. Of course, back in the day we didn’t call it that. Yet, I built a profession of some sort within every discipline of my life; equestrian sports, acting, dance, figure skating, voice. By today’s reckoning I became an entrepreneur before I was 20. I’ve never stopped.
Lately – though I’m not sure exactly why now – I’ve been asked things like “What have you learned?”, “What do you wish you’d done differently?” and “If you could give advice to your younger self, what would you tell her, having all the knowledge and experience you do today?
So I got to thinking about it… and about her. I was surprised to discover how much more I love and treasure her special brand of badassery now than I did back when I WAS her. She was very angsty – and worried about EVERYTHING!
And yeah, I DO have some things I’d like to say to this younger, fiery, idealistic, funny, quirky, artistic and highly talented younger self ‘o mine. The advice is all about getting my mind right… because that was the one thing I wish I’d been better WAY at.
Still and all, we did manage to stay on the bike…
Find your own voice. Use it.
You have SUCH a unique view of the world; an always-surprising way of seeing and expressing things. That’s your voice. And I know you feel the pressure of conforming to maintain the status quo to keep parents, friends and clients happy (i.e. comfortable)… but trust me. There will come a time when that seemingly outlandish point of view you have about what’s important and the way things really work will be EXACTLY the thing that’ll make you and your business unique and highly desired in the years ahead.
Go ahead. Be an artist. AND a businesswoman.
Right now, I know you’re being told: “You can’t make a living as an artist.” “What ARE you going to do when you grow up?”. “You’re just a jack of all trades, master of none.” It shakes you up inside, I know. You have to make money, I get it. But don’t cave! Those naysayers simply don’t have all the information. They don’t know what you’re truly capable of. I do. And it’s stunning.
Learn business. That’s what’ll help you get your work out to the people who need it most. In fact, you’re capable of not only getting the business part down – you can become so adept at how to see, hear, feel, smell your success so deeply that it HAS to happen… and heaven and earth will move in your favor. And THAT, my darling – is Life As Art.
And if after that – you find you don’t WANT to do your art as your business? Then apply all that awesomeness and create a different amazing business… and keep your art just for you. Both ways are legit – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Keep writing. it’s a superpower
Next to whatever you’re building your business around, the second most important skill you’ll need is writing. Hands down. You’re lucky that you already like it. Keep doing it! Keep it current. Keep it authentic and in your own voice. Broaden your vocabulary: become fast friends with the Thesaurus and Dictionary. Write. Every. Day.
You might think I mean just articles or blog posts. But no – writing effective emails, headlines, social posts, even texts will be as much a part of your success in business and life as that thing you do for money. Because writing is how your ideas are carried forward. And really good writing will make you and your idea stand out like a gleaming beacon in the darkness; as refreshing as new-mown hay (or a hot shower, if you’re allergy prone!).
Writing will carry your voice and message further into the world than almost anything else you’ll do.
Learn how business is done… NOW.
Like everything, best practices and they way things are done change regularly. MAKE it your business to know whether there are new tools to put you in front of your ideal audience more effectively, make your life easier, more relevant and help you serve your clients better than ever before. Don’t assume that because you got it down this year… it’ll still be like that next. Stay fresh!
Multi-passionate? Honey, Keep doing all those things
Y’know that multi-passionate thing we do… where we do LOTS of things and do them all incredibly well? Keep doing that. All those people who try to change that about you and make you focus on only ONE thing are going to be coming to you for help in about 30 years. That thing will have a name too: polymath. And it will be your superpower.
Decide what success means to you
You’ll have allllll kinds of people offering you all kinds of advice. About how to run your business, what business you should even be IN – and whether or not you’ll be successful. The ones to listen to won’t be offering this kind of unsolicited advice. They’ll wait to be asked. You have to seek them out.
YOU have to be the one to decide what success means to you. Is it money? Is it freedom? Travel? Friends? Family? So much joy, fun and delight you can hardly wait to get out of bed in the morning and dive in? (Getting any ideas here?). Dream, feel into and create the life and business you WANT – not the one others (or your fearful self) say you can have. “They” don’t have your imagination.
Remember that vision we had when we were little? The one where big light came in through the top of our head and coursed through us, rushing out, transforming everyone and healing all whom it touched? Yeah. That one. Turns out it defines everything. 😉
If you’re going to go around desiring things like success, more money, more recognition (and I know you will!)… understand this: at the end of the day, NO reward in business is worth a joyless journey on the Misery Train from Hell. I dare you… make Joy one of your top desires (and gauges of success) then focus on it, nurture it, make critical decisions in your business (and life!) based upon whether they’ll bring you more Joy or not. It’s incredible how much more easily everything comes together from including that simple ingredient.
GET BETTER AT ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.
Ask questions. Lots of them. Along the way, start asking better ones. Instead of “Should I do this?”… ask; “How did you know that right then was the right time?” Instead of “How do I take better pictures?”, ask “What were you thinking when you created that image? What does it mean to you?” More than what to do and how to do it – you need to know things like “Why?”, “How will I know?” “What signals do I look for?”
Only with this information can you weave the answers you do receive into your own, “this I know for sure” rules for engagement in business… and in life.
Listen more than you talk
You will learn SO much more about a person and a situation if you just shut up and listen. Really listen. With your heart, your gut, your whole self. Learning stops the minute you open your mouth.
Learn to Discern.
First; listen well. Then; discern the truth, the bottom line, the fine distinctions or differences of a situation. You may then choose to act. Or not. But put wisdom and discernment first. It’s key in business – and life. It makes you listen a little more precisely too… which is how you’ll learn the most.
Don’t put off starting because you think you won’t be good enough.
Trust me. You’re either good enough already – or you’ll get that way by taking action and getting in motion. Now Go!
Decide what you & your business stand for – and stand for it.
Know what you will and won’t put up with. Know what your bottom line is… what you’re willing to go the distance for. Know what your “WHY” is.
Knowing what you really, truly stand for – and who you serve – are the underpinnings of everything you do in your business and life. Knowing these things deep down in the fabric of your soul will see you through the rough times, the times when you don’t know how you’ll ever do what must be done. Because the one thing you WILL know is that you WILL find a way, because what you stand for is worth everything.
Walk away from a lousy client, even if you think you need the money
A really lousy client does stuff like pays late ALLL the time. Always wants a price cut. Dangles “I can get it cheaper from so-and-so” in front of you all the time. Never says thanks. Always questions your rates. Minimizes you. Always wants more. Is agitating, annoying and life-sucking to deal with… every. single. time.
These clients cost you way more than you’ll ever make from them. They steal your time, energy, life force… and focus. Sometimes, even your money. I’ve fired my share of lousy clients. It was scary – but ultimately so liberating! I promise you this: every time I did, 2 or more IDEAL clients appeared to grace my business, thus effectively eliminating the the dark hole of suckydom that seems to follow lousy clients wherever they go.
If everything in you says “this isn’t enough, I want more”… then don’t settle! I mean this across the board… in relationships, in business, in life.
Get help when you need it
I know you. You think you can do everything by yourself. You can’t. You shouldn’t. You don’t have to. Get help when you need it, whether it’s in the form of a mentor, a coach, a book, a video… whatever. Don’t be stubborn about this! Or I’ll have to come back there and kick your butt.
And a few favorites that really need no explanation…
Worry less, trust more…
Above all, remember this:
I love you to the moon and twice around forever!
Love, Future You.