The “Business for Self-Employed Creatives” club meets every Wednesday at 4pm Pacific on Clubhouse. Each week, we discuss a different topic that most of us are dealing with or have dealt with in the past, and we brainstorm solutions together. It’s really nice to have a group of other solo business owners to chat with about all this stuff. Sometimes when you’re doing everything yourself, it can feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to or that no one will understand. It’s a nice way to take a break from work for an hour to talk about what’s going on with others who get it.
We took a few weeks off because we all had stuff going on and it seemed like a good time to take a break. But when we came back, we collectively realized we had missed it. It’s almost like a weekly group therapy chat and the conversations are pretty helpful. If you’re on Clubhouse, we’d love to have you join us. I have some invitations available so if you’re not on Clubhouse but want to be, send me a message – you can DM me on social @aardvarkgirl or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coaching is mostly listening and observing.
Back in 2020 when I was battling my never-ending quest to find the right description for my services, there was a period where I was contemplating business therapy. A lot of my coaching work is pretty much the same thing. It’s listening to others talk about their issues, making impartial observations, and offering some guidance. That guidance isn’t about me telling anyone what to do or even what they should do, but more about helping them realize the answers they already have within them. It might sound hokey to put it that way, but it really is the case.
We get so stuck in our heads sometimes, thinking about everything that’s going on, that we don’t realize what’s happening subconsciously, or what might be completely obvious to someone on the outside. Talking about things with someone else can be immensely helpful, as long as it’s the right person to whom you’re talking. It helps get all the noise out of your head and can offer a bit of a release and even help you find some clarity about your situation.
Venting vs. complaining.
Venting can be incredibly important. Venting, not complaining. I differentiate between the two because venting is talking to a trusted person about the frustrations you’re dealing with, just to let it out and maybe commiserate with someone else who understands. But from there, you do what you need to do and move on. Complaining, on the other hand, is continuing to focus on what’s going wrong without making any effort to fix it. I don’t find that to be healthy. If you continue to have the same problem but haven’t done anything differently to solve it, I don’t want to hear about it anymore.
I don’t mean that to be harsh, but I’m not able to help people who aren’t willing to help themselves. I can’t fix anyone. I can offer my best advice, my strongest opinions about what would be the best move for them, but I can’t actually do the work for anyone else. People don’t always want to admit that. They go to a coach because they want guidance, but then they don’t want to make the effort. Just like with so many things, they’re looking for that magical solution. We tend to acknowledge that more on the personal side – you can’t lose weight if you’re not willing to change your food and diet. You’re not going to get a promotion if you’re not willing to take on extra responsibilities at work to show you deserve it. You’re not going to find the extra time you need to work on that project if you’re not ready to give up some of your tv binge-watching hours. This all applies to business as well. If there’s something you want to improve, you have to be willing to do the work to get there. You can’t expect it to just happen without the effort on your part.
Mindset is an important element of business.
I think it’s easy for people to forget the psychological aspect of running a business. It’s not just about doing a job. You have to think about things differently. You make all of the decisions for what’s best. You earn the successes and have to live with the let downs. There are time you have to develop a thick skin so you don’t take rejection personally if you don’t land that client you were really excited to work with, or the project that could’ve helped you a lot financially falls through. You have to hold several positions simultaneously and understand how to divide your brainpower between all the things that need to be done. It can be exhausting. And exhilarating. Sometimes it’s both.
There is also a lot more to it than creating a business plan and setting up systems. There is a lot of internal work that goes into running a business. Mindset is a trending topic because it’s a crucial part of living as a human. You can decide how to feel about things and how to react to them. You have to drown out the external noise and listen to your instincts. Sometimes you have to be willing to take a risk when you know one path makes more sense on paper but you feel yourself compelled to do something that seems less logical.
Before I decide to take on a new coaching client, I have them fill out a questionnaire about what they’re doing now, what they want to do, what their goals are, all the standard stuff. But, I also have them explain why they have those goals. I have them assign a point system based on practical things like income potential, timeframe required to complete it, and their current level of experience in that area. I also have them assign points based on passion and instinct. It’s maybe not the traditional way to look at things, but I think it’s important to factor it all into your decisions.
This is why what I do is more like therapy sometimes. It really does have a lot to do with feelings and other ideas not typically associated with business. And that’s why it helps to talk to others who are doing the same thing. Even if it’s not the same kind of business, there are parallels with everyone. And sometimes even your best friends, no matter how long you’ve known them, simply don’t get it. It has nothing to do with intelligence, but until you run your own business, you really don’t know what it’s like.
Even when I worked for someone else, though, I always felt like I was somewhat of a therapist. I was always listening to everyone’s problems and figuring out how to help them. At my last job, my coworkers would literally lie down on my couch and talk to me about their issues. I never mind though. Listening and observing are strengths for me and, mixed with my logical-leaning less-than-emotional approach to most things, I think I have a different perspective that, fortunately, people seem to find helpful. In other words, my brain is weird and that works for me.
Talk to other self-employed creatives about what you’re going through.
So even if you don’t talk publicly in a place like Clubhouse, I strongly suggest talking to other self-employed creatives out there. It’s really helpful to talk about things with someone who gets it, or even better, a group of people who get it. They can offer you their own perspective of your situation. You can brainstorm solutions based on what has worked for them and maybe figure out some options you hadn’t thought of yet. And you can laugh, which is equally important. Not all situations are funny, of course, but there is something to be said for all the stories we have after we’ve made it through the frustration. We all have those worst client stories. The can you believe they asked me to do this situations. The times when everything that could go wrong, and then some, did but you managed to make it through and ended up looking like a Rockstar. It’s a good reprieve from your actual work.
You are always invited to join us on Clubhouse on Wednesdays at 4pm Pacific time in the “Business for Self-Employed Creatives” club for your weekly dose of business therapy.