On getting bogged down

On getting bogged downHello dear blog readers, clients, colleagues, friends, and other people of the internet.

The past couple of weeks haven’t been super easy around these parts. I didn’t quite get my ‘Here’s the thing’ blog out of Friday for a number of reasons, so today I thought I’d go off-piste and send out a blog post that’s a little off-the-cuff, a little raw, and a little more honest.

There have been some things that have hit me hard these past two weeks. We had a small (everyone’s fine) car accident in which a man opened his door into ours while we were moving, which shook me up a bit, and has taken some faff to get the car fixed. Not easy, not expected, and the sort of thing that just unsettles me.

I’ve had quite a bit of work on – lots of you are preparing for Christmas! – and I’ve been jumping from one thing to another very quickly which isn’t, I realise, a sustainable way for me to work. Once again, I’m learning about my own capacity and preferred ways of working. I’m by no means perfect, which still has the ability to kick me in the recovering perfectionist places.

I’m also doing something very exciting and brave – I’m training with Tara Mohr as part of her Playing Big Facilitators’ Training Programme. It’s a six-month stint of exploring how I can help people (mostly women) to play bigger. I’m committed to learning more about what I can do, how I can help, and what I want my business to look like, so this feels like the right time to dive in.

But oh boy, the first course module is on the inner critic, which is decidedly kicking me where it hurts! The past week has been a masterclass for me in how we can lose confidence in what we’re doing, how we talk to ourselves when things go wrong, and how we can get sucked in to the spiral of doom. Thank goodness for the tools I’m (slowly) learning, and for Tara’s approach!

So, my dear friends and clients and readers and others. I don’t have anything sparkling or wise right now, other to say that, I’m human too. I struggle, I work things out. Life hits me sometimes.

Today, I am going gently, because I can feel the cold I’ve been fighting off for weeks just tipping over into setting in, and because I need to go slowly in order to learn how to bounce back from the inner critic / spiral of doom.

I’m starting to believe, more and more, that we have the capacity to figure things out ourselves, that we have the answers, if we dare to listen to them. I’m getting clearer on the work I want to do – but I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet. I know I will be, and that will have to be enough for me for now.

With care

Jenny x


Here's the thing: when you don't love your business

What if I hate my business?This week, someone on my Facebook page asked me for resources that talked about what to do when you’re not in love with your business. What to do, in fact, when you hate your business. And I drew a blank – I couldn’t think of anything.

And yet this isn’t an unusual conversation for me, really. I talk to clients all the time about struggles they’re having, and sometimes those struggles get them to the end of their tether.

Let’s start with a huge dose of permission and kindness: you don’t have to love every ounce of your business all the time. You can have bad days. You can have bad months. That doesn’t mean you can’t get the love back.

Sometimes, you might find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. It’s dragging you down.

The first thing is to dig a little deeper into why you’re not in love with your business. What is it, exactly, that’s dragging you down?

Perhaps you’re not making the products you really want to be making. Maybe you’re feeling the relentless pressure of doing it all by yourself. Or you’re getting caught in the comparison trap, instead of following your own dreams and instincts. Perhaps you’re putting things out there in the world and not getting much back.

Maybe, and I hear this so often, you find it hard to interact with customers – demanding, needing attention, confused – on a day to day basis. For many creative people, who are brilliant at design, customer service isn’t exactly a natural place to be. People can be challenging, especially when it feels like they’re always in the right and you’re always in the wrong. Especially when their passion for your product or service turns into frustration or resentment when it didn’t turn up on time, or solve all their problems.

And because we’re social creatures, these difficult conversations can really drag us down. They can take the fun out of everything.

I’ve worked with several clients who’ve struggled with customer service in their business, and I can honestly say that the difference between those who’ve successfully moved on are those who have actively chosen to think differently about it. And I don’t think you can make that happen if it isn’t there… You have to really want to change your mind about your customer interactions.

Because they require generosity, as well as clear boundaries that you uphold every day. I believe in boundary setting, and I know how hard it is to say no to people when it feels like you should say yes. But saying yes to big demands and difficult people can really impact your love for your business.

So I think customer service is good place to start if you’re struggling. But be really honest about what you’re struggling with – it may be different for you.

I also believe that it’s really hard to pour all your efforts into a business that doesn’t give you anything back. And I’m not just talking about money. What do you need your business to give you? Is it about the flexible lifestyle? Does it need to feed your creative passion? Is there a certain amount you need to make to feel good about it? As much as you can, get clear on the answers to those questions, and you may find that new and exciting answers start showing themselves to you.

And it’s okay to stop and change your mind.

Ultimately, if you can’t see a way of changing smaller things – like customer service, or delegating tasks you hate to someone else – then it might be time to take a small sabbatical to reflect on bigger changes. Take a couple of days off. Take a week off. Get out of your life and your business. Go on a retreat.

And while you’re away, allow yourself free reign to dream big, outside anything you’ve dreamt of before, perhaps. It might be time for a big change in your business. If you really can’t delegate or change your customer service policy, and let that be enough, you may need to re-think your business completely. Let yourself do that.

What makes you excited? What gets your creativity flowing? And I don’t mean, ‘What’s another product you could churn out?’ That’s not going to get you fired up. What feels really good to you?

These answers may not come immediately. You may need to really release the stress and pressure of working on something that’s breaking your heart. You may need to rest, deeply, before you can start thinking about the next thing fully.

Thinking about doing something new, whether it’s a first business or second or third, requires you to love yourself so much, to believe in yourself, and to believe that you can do something more – you’re allowed to do whatever you want. If you told me you wanted to sack it all in and become a lawyer or a masseuse or a teacher or a full time mum, I’d help you find a way to get there.

If no one else tells you this, I will: you can do whatever you like. There are no wrong answers.

Here’s the thing

This is a huge topic, and there are so many things to try to rekindle the love, and so many ways to think about a new line of work. I could write a dozen blog posts about this.

But here are the headlines:

  • If you hate it, you need to change something. And I recommend changing it consciously, rather than just trying anything and everything willy-nilly. Think carefully, trial it, track the outcome.
  • Delegate what you can. If you hate packing orders, hire someone. If writing product descriptions or blog posts isn’t your thing, hire someone.
  • Change your product range. Stop selling products that hurt your soul. Or change them radically. If the things you hate are bestsellers, figure out how much income you’ll ‘lose’ and figure out if it’s worth the trade off.
  • Introduce more of what you love. If you don’t offer it, people can’t love it or buy it. If you’ve always wanted to do more illustration or writing, start. I promise you won’t ruin anything.
  • Take a big break. Give yourself permission to dream, and to not work. Plan to extend your delivery times or put your shop on holiday while you do some soul searching.

People don’t talk about hating their business – it’s kind of taboo. But sometimes it happens. Sometimes, all that work isn’t worth it.

That doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You’ve just learnt what you don’t want. So start learning more about what you do want.


PS Inspired Action starts in a little over a week. If you’re looking for some inspiration to work on your online shop, you might find it’s just the thing! Read more and register here.


Here's the thing: simple abundance

How to find simple abundanceAs I write, I have a list of ten blog posts I want to write. This subject of simple abundance didn’t quite make the list this week, especially as I posted about finding enough last week, but it really feels like what I want to say today, so here it is.

Abundance is a challenging concept when we’ve lived in a world that forces scarcity down our throats in a bid to get us to work really hard, buy the “right” things. In a world where having the majority of people feel inadequate is “good” for business – good for capitalism.

Abundance is a challenging concept for small business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives. When you’re self-employed, there’s a leap of faith. A client asked me this week if I thought that it ever stops being uncertain. The answer, truthfully, is no, I don’t think life ever stops being uncertain, we just get better at trusting it and ourselves. We just get better at making huge leaps of faith.

Abundance is a challenging concept for parents, especially when you’re a small business owner, but also just in general. It can feel like there’s an infinite amount of time, money, and energy you need or could spend on your children and your life. And how do you teach your children the resilience required to live in a world that believe in scarcity, when you’re afraid yourself?

First, let’s just decide to believe that you are stronger than you currently believe. You have resources you haven’t even dreamt of. Or perhaps you remember a time in your life when you really had to dig deep – you know what you have within you. Except there’s more.

And then let’s decide that there’s enough in the world for everyone. There’s plenty, in fact. Perhaps that’s quite a suspension of disbelief for you. Just try it on for a while. There’s plenty of time, money, resources, customers, ideas, opportunity, love, space. It’s just a matter of seeing it.

The trick, really, is to be able to see it.

And that requires a hell of a lot of strength. Because you have to get really clear about what you want more of (and what you don’t). You have to keep holding yourself to want you want, and set up all these boundaries around it, so that you’re not leaking out your time and energy to things that don’t give you what you want.

That hour you spent scrolling through Facebook? Not giving you what you want. The time you spent lying awake wondering what to do about such and such project? Not giving you what you want. The energy you spend second guessing yourself, or the world, or your customers? Not giving you what you want.

Here’s the thing:

Start finding your own simple abundance in the everyday. Discover for yourself that there’s plenty right in front of you. And start finding the leaks and gently, carefully, sealing them up.

Abundance is the fully functional tap in your kitchen. As much water as you like, whenever you like! And hey, is that a kettle I see over there? You already have the means to make as much delicious, comforting tea as you like. Do not compromise on tea. Get your absolute favourite out right now and enjoy it! Maybe you even spend a moment feeling grateful for everyone who has made it possible for you to drink such a delicious cup of tea – the tea-pickers, the tea company, whoever invented tea bags or tea pots, the shop you bought it from, the plumber who hooked you up to the water main, the kettle manufacturer. Simple abundance, in a cup.

Abundance is the 10,000 (approximate figure) opportunities I see on a daily basis. To create an amazing pop up shop. To send out brilliant press releases. To put yourself out there. To add personalisation to that product. To improve your photography. Endless tweaks, and big business ideas. But listen: you can’t see them if you’re caught up in scarcity or fear or busy-busy. You get to choose how busy you are. Choose the things that bring you closer to abundance, rather than feeling unfocused and weary.

Some leaks to fix:

  • Social media. Switch off your notifications for at least an hour a day, if not more. Feel the clarity rush back into your brain.
  • Working when you’re over-tired. Rest is essential to productivity. The better rested you are, the more efficient you’ll be. Sleep. Have a lie down. Seriously, have a lunch break or a quiet sit today.
  • Requests you don’t want to agree to. Do you keep getting caught up in doing people favours that aren’t fun, or dealing with customer requests that take up your time? Put a boundary around your time and sanity, and say no. Consistently. With grace. And then move on.
  • Email. I don’t have the answers to this, but start by unsubscribing from anything you don’t read. And then set up filters or rules to move any notifications into a folder. Simple abundance.

These are the small tasks that take courage, energy and strength to do the first time. But I promise that as you do them more, they’ll become less of an effort. You’ll be able to say no with ease, and you’ll realise how much benefit you get out of keeping your energy for yourself and your business.

Abundance is simple. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be a sudden increase in sales or income. It doesn’t have to be a mansion or a yacht. It can be a cup of tea and an entire hour to yourself.

Give yourself abundance. The world isn’t going to. But you definitely can.


PS My new ecourse, Inspired Action, is now open for registration. Taking place in July, it’ll include four weeks of inspiration and guidance to help you start or improve selling online. It’s basically everything I know about setting up shop! Read more and register here.


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.