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I’m not great at following recipes, but here’s why it helps my business

I love to cook. Okay, the one-year-old and lockdown juggle might be holding me back a little right now, but mostly I enjoy the creativity of preparing meals.

And that’s just it for me: the creativity. Like a lot of things, I’m in it for the creative flair, and sometimes that doesn’t necessarily work out in my (husband’s) favour.

I want to be able to just throw in a dash of this and a dollop of that. I want to be able to sense when the souffles are done. (I’ve never actually made souffles, but you know what I mean.) And I want to be able to play around and produce something yummy that everyone enjoys.

Sometimes it works. There are dishes I can vary depending on my mood, like a risotto with a select combination from the fridge and cupboard, or a slow cooked casserole. Usually, I can play around with these meals because I’ve learned the recipes by heart and made them many times.

Because guess what I resist, literally and metaphorically, in the kitchen and in life? Recipes.

Friends, I do not like being told what to do.

Partly, hello, I’m a rebel. Partly, I want to be able to intuit the best formula for a dish.

But you know what helps me to learn how to cook and discover the best formula for a dish? Recipes.

So what do recipes have to do with business?

You might have guessed that – just like this recent post about cake – there’s a food-based metaphor going on here. (I just love a metaphor, especially a food one.)

Just like in cooking, there are recipes in business, too. Not in exactly the same way, but pretty close. Processes, structures, templates, tips, and step-by-step instructions. Using things is art and science, formula and instinct, logical and creative.

Just like in cooking, you can discover a process in business and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can play around and make it your own. (Or even write it from scratch in the first place.)

Let’s say you want to be able to create a delicious marketing offering. You can learn about how to create different types of content – photos, videos, written pieces – and schedule them. You can follow some suggested recipes and guides. And as you practice, you’ll learn your favourite flavours, and the ones your family (customers) love the best.

Maybe you’ll find some crowd pleasers. Maybe the first time you make a souffle, it won’t rise. (Chances are.) But maybe on the third attempt, it’s just right: perfectly light, gooey in the middle and a little crispy on top.

I love reading about marketing and business. It’s a bit like browsing Pinterest or a good cook book for foodie inspiration.

There are also times when I find a recipe I want to learn by heart, like a basis for making my own granola (that was a pre-baby obsession) that I can mix and match when I like.

My game-changing recipe realisation

Realising and accepting that recipes are in fact helpful and not something I need to rebel against has been GAME CHANGING for me. The structure they give me allows me to be at my creative best. (And yes, I’m kind of talking about business here, not just oat to raisin ratios…)

If you, like me, have realised the value of having a structure and a recipe, I think you’re going to like The Better Business Collective. It has a whole load of templates for sending email newsletters to your subscribers (a VERY worthwhile marketing endeavour), as well as a stunning, magical, easy-but-doesn’t-mean-we-do-it Game-Changing Success Ritual that has the power to level UP your business and your mindset.

You’re oh so welcome in The Better Business Collective if you:

  • Want to raise your business savvy up a level
  • Know that you want to work ON your business rather than IN it but struggle to actually make that happen on the regular
  • Love learning and implementing business and marketing strategy live and in community with other humans in business
  • Are a rebel, like yours truly, and want to get out of your own way 
  • Aren’t a rebel, but would love to unlock your potential and create your own version of success

Let’s get cooking, shall we?

“Are your clients like me?”

I’ve had a few calls with potential new clients recently. Mostly women wanting to take stock, refine their plans, and work on overcoming some blocks in their business while things are… different.

I was reflecting on the themes coming up for these brilliant humans in business, curious to see whether these times are bringing up anything specific for creatives and small businesses.

Perhaps this was also on their minds too because I did spot a theme: several of the women I’ve spoken to asked a variation on the question, “Are your clients like me?”

Do other people struggle with this?

Am I unusual?

Is this unfixable, or can you help?

Am I in the right place?

My work isn’t for everyone, and there are certain things I don’t help with. I’m not an expert in Facebook ads. I’m not an accountant or an HR specialist. I’m not a designer or a web developer. There are plenty of wonderful experts out there who specialise in this kind of work.

I’m also not a coach who is purely focused on six-figure turnover, on churning out hundreds of products for the masses, or on making a quick quid with no substance. I’m sure there are business coaches and mentors out there who can help with that. (Though I don’t know that I can recommend one…)

So if I’m answering, “Am I in the right place?” there are several factors to my answer.

But if you’re wondering if you’re the only one struggling with confidence, getting organised, creating a sustainable business, making the right decisions for you, or cutting out the noise, you are definitely not alone. My clients are like you.

And while I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s “fixable”, my work is here to help you dial up the volume on your authentic voice, your unique offerings, your fabulous skills, and turn the volume DOWN on the noise that distracts you from success.

I LOVE to help creative humans define their own success.

I’m a sucker for asking questions that delve deeper, and listening to allllll the answers.

And I delight in giving business owners compassionate accountability and structure to get them taking action in the right direction for them.

If you’re wondering if my clients are like you, here’s an incomplete but quick overview of my clients:

  • My clients are mostly women with creative businesses, though I have a couple of non-creative business owners and women considering starting a business in the future
  • My clients have a hunch they could be earning more, doing better, or feeling happier, but they’re not quite sure how to get there
  • My clients have a lot of thoughts, and usually apologise for saying too much, or that it’s all “a mess” (when really this is a key part of the work we do together)
  • My clients usually need a little nudge towards more confidence to do the thing they really want to do or are scared of doing
  • My clients sometimes need to ask uncomfortable questions, and be gently encouraged out of their comfort zone
  • My clients usually need or want homework, accountability, and clarity on the most important thing for them to do

We’re all humans in business. We all need support from time to time, whether it’s help setting up a new website, or creating a business strategy, or getting out of our own way.

If you’re looking for support, I’d love to hear from you – even if you’re not sure I’m the right person! Chances are I can recommend someone who is.

You can also join me on Mondays at 12pm for a group call to get a taste of what it’s like to work with me. Join Progress not Perfection – my group programme – currently Pay What You Can and I’ll share all the call details!

Finding beauty in business: a re-frame

If you’re a creative business owner, you’re probably motivated by beauty in some way. Perhaps you’re an artist or designer, or a visionary who can see beautiful solutions to problems. Maybe you find beauty in words (hi, friend).

You could be a photographer or a baker or a massage therapist. Perhaps you’re a coach or a mentor and there’s beauty in the space you offer your clients to discover something new.

We’re all finding and creating beauty as part of our livelihoods.

So there’s beauty in your products or services or the experiences you offer. Chances are you like making things look good.

But what about the business side of things? Is that as beautiful as the offerings you put out there in the world?

Many of my clients are brilliant designers, painters, photographers, visionaries, problem-solvers, and supporters. They often thrive in the creative part of their business, but the actual business bits need nourishing.

And, actually, I encourage all of us to see beauty in the business bits. It may not come naturally, and that’s okay! We’re not all born numbers people or marketers or systems brains.

But there is beauty in having balanced books, up to date bookkeeping, marketing that connects, systems that keep you organised and calm.

There is (or at least there can be) beauty in creating and managing your business.

You can infuse your business with beauty, with your own unique aesthetic, with beautiful behind-the-scenes bits that help you create more beauty to share with others.

Beauty in business: marketing

Marketing is an area of your business that you can probably immediately see how to make beautiful. It’s about beautiful content: gorgeous photos for your Instagram feed, great words for your emails and website, perhaps a lovely video.

Yes, there’s beauty in that. But there’s also beauty in consistency and regularity so that your audience know what to expect from following you.

There’s beauty in following up on that piece you shared on creating a gallery wall with a piece on choosing a colour scheme for picture frames.

Cultivating a consistent voice and aesthetic so your work is recognisable is beautiful. So is getting clear on your branding and values.

Having working links, clear information in your profiles, and a clear path for your customer? All beautiful.

Bonus beauty: knowing which pieces of marketing are really working for you by checking insights and statistics, and then building on that beautiful knowledge.

Beauty in business: finances

A lot of creatives want to be creative without thinking about the financial side of things. We want to be able to focus on making our thing, and have the money just flow in. And there is truth in this.

But there’s also value in learning how to make and manage money. And guess what? It can be beautiful!

I encourage you to see bookkeeping as beautiful. Knowing where your sales come from and where you’re spending is so beneficial to your decision-making. And there is so much beauty in knowing how much you’re earning after expenses and tax throughout the year, not just when you submit your tax return.

There’s beauty in having a monthly money date with yourself to look at your sales and spending. And you can make it beautiful! Get a gorgeous planner to record your key numbers, put on some inspiring music, sip a delicious drink.

Having good profit margins on your products is beautiful. The clarity and confidence you gain from knowing how the numbers work? Really beautiful. Sexy, even!

Working with a great accountant (I use Amy Taylor and she and her team are wonderful) and even a bookkeeper is beautiful. Asking for help when you need it? Beautiful.

Bonus beauty: working on your deeper money mindset is sooooo beautiful. We all have ideas about money and finances that are unconsciously driving our decisions. Especially for creatives, we can get in a pickle valuing our creativity to charge enough for it. Try this reading list as a starting point for some really beautiful progress in this area.

Beauty in business: systems

Oh boy. Systems (that work for you) are beautiful. This I know for sure.

(Caveat that cribbing a system from someone else that doesn’t work for you is a pathway to hell.)

What do I mean by systems? Well, it could be the way you process your orders. What happens to each order as it comes in? How do products get made, stored, finished, packaged? Is it beautiful, or is it stressful and chaotic?

It could be the way you communicate with customers. Do you receive messages via email, messenger, Instagram and more? Do you respond to all of them in a timely way? Do you keep customers up to date about their order? A robust communications system can make this easy and reliable.

Systems and processes help us to feel organised and make our days beautiful. And these days, a lot of them can be automated and standardised.

As creatives, this stuff can feel boring or muggle-ish. But beautiful systems give you more time to create! And they can help you to thrive, because you don’t have to think about each step of the process every time you do it.

(And you can colour-code, design, and prettify your systems to your heart’s content!)

And now for some beautiful action

If there’s a part of your business that you avoid, if there’s a skill you shy away from, let’s choose some gorgeous action to shine some beauty on it.

If this blog post has inspired you to see your business in a different way, or do something differently or for the first time, please let me know! I’d love to be able to cheer you on.

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