Here's the thing: my first client

My 1st clientEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

Over the last month, a number of people have asked me if I take my own advice. After last week’s post in particular, my boyfriend told me he was going to make me read it when I was worrying about not being good enough. Touché, Ryan, touché.

So I wanted to write this week’s post to say yes, I take my own advice, but yes, I also sometimes struggle with “is this okay?” and “what if it all falls apart?”

And I thought the best way to do that would be to tell you about my first ever client.

My first client is someone I’ve known for a long time. She’s inspiring, determined, fickle and stubborn. She’s a born introvert, but loves being around like-minded people. She’s more successful than she thought she’d be at this stage in her business. She’s wondering how she can keep that up.

[Spoiler alert: Before anyone gets into thinking “oooh, I wonder who she’s talking about,” or “oh god, she’s talking about me,” – I’m not. Keep reading. It’s okay.]

Here are some of the things we’ve said to each other:

Her: “Hi Jenny, I’m about to launch this new website, but I’m suddenly not sure it’s what I really wanted. What if it’s rubbish? What if no-one likes it? What if there are 50 billion mistakes in it and people think I’m stupid because I didn’t fix them?”

Me: “You’ve worked really hard on your website, with a really talented web designer who gets what you’re trying to do. Did you really know how it was going to turn out at the beginning? Not really, because otherwise it would have been that way. And you know what, here’s the secret of running your own business: if you don’t like it a month from now, you get to change it. It’s a process. This won’t be your website forever.”

Her website launched, people really liked it. But more importantly, she saw that, for her launch, it was absolutely the right thing.

Another example:

Her: “I have too many ideas and not enough time. What should I concentrate on?”

Me: “What’s going to make the biggest difference to your business today, this week, or this month? Do that first. Then do something that has long-term value – write down your ideas, flesh them out, so you can come back to them. Then, back to the first question. Repeat ad infinitum. And remember – you’ve got good intuition. You’ll know the best things to do.”

So have you guessed it yet? My first client is, well, me.

A very wise woman introduced me to the idea of thinking about it like that, knowing that I would struggle with a lot of the things all small business owners struggle with. And it remains true. I do read my own blog posts, my own notes, and I have open, honest, slightly ridiculous conversations with myself. I also seek guidance from people who get it, who I know I can trust.

So here’s the thing:

If you were your first customer, what would you need or want? Would you like your products? Would you buy them, have them in your home? Do they resonate with you?

And while you might be your first customer, you’re not going to be every customer. You will need to think beyond your own preferences at some point. Just because you like it, doesn’t guarantee other people will.

BUT making sure you’re happy with your work is the route to sanity and happiness. If you’re spending all day designing, crafting and making products you don’t even like and have maybe started to resent, well, I hope this blog is a little nudge towards creating something new that you really, truly love.

So today, this weekend, over the coming week, pretend you’re your first customer. Don’t try to second-guess yourself. Just you, your preferences. What are they?


PS I can’t believe it’s almost a month since I became self-employed! Time has flown by. My 25% off launch offer ends on July 31st. If you want to work together at the reduced rate, get in touch before then (even if we don’t start work together until way later).

Here's the thing: comparison

Comparison is the thief of joyEvery Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.

I am a massive Pinterest fan. It’s my happy place, and I particularly love hanging out on my Mantras board. Full of bits of wisdom I’ve collected, I quite often scroll through finding something that resonates today, something I need to hear.

And this quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by Theodore Roosevelt is one I often come back to.

It’s also something that’s come to mind this week as I’ve been working with my mentoring clients. Almost everyone has told me that their anxiety, worry, distraction comes from getting stuck in the spiral of doom on social media, thinking about what everyone else is doing. And wondering if they measure up.

It’s a catch 22 of human nature. We’re genetically programmed to learn by watching others. That’s how we learn to talk, walk and exist in the world. In the business world, there’s a good argument for keeping on top of trends, checking out ideas, and being part of the collective.

On the other hand, we all have this annoying thing called shame, which tells us we’re not good enough, we’re not keeping up. Here are some of the things I’ve heard from clients:

“Oh, they’re so much more together than me”

“They’re always bringing out amazing new products – how do they do it? They must be better than me”

“Should I be doing that? Everyone seems to have a plan”

And it becomes a spiral of doom.

You see someone else doing something you’d love to do, or you see them doing what they do really well. And you worry that you’re not doing it “right” or doing enough. And you get caught in the crippling fear – once you’re in the spiral, the good ideas don’t come, you can’t concentrate, you’re too afraid of doing it wrong.

Because the thing about the spiral of doom is that it takes you away from what you’re doing. Because, in many ways, if you’re running a creative business, your work can’t be compared to others’. You’re doing something unique. You can’t be compared.

And you also don’t see the other side of the story. Out there on social media, no one documents the months of prep, or the kitchen sink full of dirty dishes, or the 27,000 bad ideas. When you’re seeing what other people do, you’re seeing what they choose to show you – it’s often authentic, they’re not trying to pull the wool over your eyes – but it’s the good bits. The curated collection of their lives and businesses.

So here’s the thing:

You don’t need to compare yourself to others. It will steal your joy, happiness, and creativity.

Today, this weekend, next week, consciously disengage from the spiral of doom. Instead, make a list of all the things you’re proud of, or all the things you’d just love to do. Pin this quote. Come back to your creativity, your inspiration, your business and life.

Protect yourself from the thief of joy.

Extra note: If you want to learn more about shame, the spiral of doom and how to live with it, I heartily recommend starting with this TEDx talk from Brené Brown.

Additional extra note: Do you like my watercolours? So fun! If you fancy having this (shaky, imperfect) piece as a reminder to avoid comparison, drop me a note in the comments.

Here's the thing: quality vs quantity

Quality vs quantityIt’s the end of my second week of self-employment. Woohoo!

Except some of the woohoo has started to wear off and I am approaching a problem I didn’t think I’d have: too much work.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great problem to have. I’m delighted that so many amazing entrepreneurs and designers have been in touch and want to work with me. That is awesome.

But it’s thrown me into an old battle that I’ve had with myself several times over the years – the old quality vs quantity argument.

You see, I’m a big quality person. I live to do a good job, and I love to do a good job. Quality is one of my core values – as a human and as a business.

But there are lots of things I love to do! I had hoped to launch an e-course for August – something I’m really excited about – but trying to squeeze that in would mean lesser quality for my existing clients. Which is not somewhere I’m prepared to go. So the e-course will have to wait.

These first couple of weeks have been an absolute delight – I am thrilled to be doing work I truly love with people who I believe are also doing work they love. The learning curves are just starting to creep in, and I’m noticing them as much as I can. Which is all any of us can do.

So here’s the thing:

We all walk the line between quality vs quantity. We’re not machines, we can’t just increase our output to do more at the same quality level.

So where have you been on the spectrum this week? No judgement, just noticing. And where would you like to be? Is there something – like my e-course – that you could drop or re-think to ensure your quality level is where you want it to be?

And the final thing. I have a couple of business mentoring spots left, so if you’re considering working with me, now’s the time to get in touch. For content creation and online shop reviews, I’m booked up until the second week of August. (Woohoo!) If you’d like to book some work with me in August, let me know.

We’ll be on to Christmas prep before we know it…

PS There’ll be a letter going out to subscribers next week. If you want a little thing from me in your inbox, subscribe below!


Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.