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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.

The beauty of working with a coach or mentor

Before I dive in, just a note about language: I’m currently pondering my own relationship with the words “coach” and “mentor”. I believe they’re different, but I also believe I do both. So please forgive that I use both in this article. Other business mentors or coaches probably have different opinions on this distinction.

As I return from maternity leave, I’ve had some pretty good reminders of what it’s like to start up in business. All that excitement, but also all those questions you have: Should I do this thing? What about that? How do I prioritise? Who am I targeting? What should I focus on?

And on and on…

Just like when I first started out, I’ve had to become my first client again. I sit with my own questions, and I ask myself what I’d ask a client. What’s really important this year, this month, this week? Who’s going to benefit most from my work? How do I really want to show up?

It’s incredibly easy to get taken over by questions, fire-fighting and comparison, or even imposter syndrome.

Here are a few ways working with a good mentor or coach can help:

They’ll hear what’s really important to you.

A good coach is trained to hear what you’re saying beneath the actual words you say. You might feel like you’re just talking or perhaps have a bit of verbal diarrhea, but those of us with an attuned ear hear so much. And we reflect that back to you. Or we ask a pertinent question. We help to guide you towards clarity.

They’ll help you stay focused and accountable.

Usually, with all the listening and the questions and the talking, we reach a point where we know the focus you need. You see it, too. There’s a first step, and a second, and you take it from there. A good mentor will help you find a way to take that first step, and stay accountable a few steps down the line, so you don’t get distracted by things that aren’t on your important list.

They’ll see things you don’t.

A fresh pair of eyes on your business and your personal strengths and weaknesses can be invaluable. A business coach will spot opportunities you haven’t, and will share insights on your business structure, marketing, customers, brand and more (depending on their unique skills). If you run your business without a partner or business manager, this can give you so much: more money and profit, more energy, more enthusiasm – and less time-wasting.

You’ll learn how to work through decisions and problems.

Sometimes, you might work with a mentor to get through a big change or a big decision in your business. But if you work with someone over a longer period of time – say six months or more – you learn so much about how to approach different situations. Making one decision is great, but learning the skill of decision-making has a long-term payoff. A coach has insights and questions and ways of thinking about things that will boost your business skills for years to come.

They’ll champion you and your business goals.

The thing about having a coach is that they’re on your team. Which is exactly what you need if you’re a business of one! Friends and family are great, but coaches have the professional and business knowledge so that they not only boost your mood, but also get you doing the best things for your business. It’s such a relief to know someone is on your side.

I could probably go on and on! Depending on where you are in your business journey, there are loads of ways a business mentor or coach can help you. If you’re starting out, they can help you get going. If you’re building on the early years, they can help you find your stride. If you’re considering a shift or pivot, they can help you see and make that transition.

There are so many options

There are loads of business mentors and coaches available these days (certainly many more than when I started in 2014!). Find someone you like, who has experience that will help you, who says the things you need to hear.

If that person is me, or could be me, I’d love to hear from you. I work with business owners (mostly women) who are in various stages of business, usually creative. I help them to understand themselves and their businesses better, in order to make better business decisions.

Get in touch and set up a free chat to find out if we’re a good fit!

(Thinking of becoming a mentor or wanting to improve or establish your mentoring business? I’m going to be launching some resources for you later this year. Get in touch to get the info when it’s ready!)

Behind the scenes: my Creative Business Day Retreat

Earlier in May, I hosted a wonderfully nourishing Creative Business Day Retreat at Paus, just outside Cambridge.

Having created and hosted six retreat weekends over the last five years, it felt like high time to offer a day retreat that would inspire, remove challenges, and rejuvenate!

The day started with tea and coffee, and a few introductions. I had a very prompt group (or should that be lots of luck with the traffic!) so we had plenty of time to chat and get to know one another.

My job at any retreat is to listen deeply to the needs of the women who gather and make sure they leave with some insight, clarity and practical suggestions for actions to take. So as I guide everyone through introducing themselves and their businesses, I’m listening out for themes and clues for what they really need.

I use meditation to help us all get really present, and to bypass the monkey minds that keep us stuck in fear and old habits. At my weekend retreats, I lead groups through regular meditations and longer visualisations, but as this day retreat was shorter, I kept things pretty focused!

Another tradition of the retreat is the gift of a star with a word on it. It’s a little bit of magic, but also an important symbol: a token to remind guests of their insight and clarity when they leave. Each word is carefully chosen, but ultimately goes to the person who needs in most.

Once we’re all settled in, I lead the group through some writing prompts. For this retreat, it was all about where you are now and where you want to get to. After we spend about an hour digging into some pretty big questions, each person has the opportunity to share with the group, and get some coaching from me.

This is where we really uncover the things that have held us back, that we haven’t been able to see before. Yes, there were tears. Yes, my hormones meant that I was also tearing up! But it’s good. These shifts are important.

Writing prompts sound very simple and straightforward, but the truth is there’s a lot of power behind them. I go deep – asking things in different ways and looking for fresh perspectives. It’s rare that guests don’t find something useful during these workshops.

After a delicious and nourishing lunch, guests had access to the incredible outdoor hot tubs at Paus, as well as time to reflect on the insights of the morning.

We had a little closing ceremony, including a meditation and some declarations of things we’re leaving behind as we go onwards. And of course some happy-sad goodbyes!

The day retreat was such a lovely way to celebrate my last in-person work before my maternity leave, and I loved spending the day at Paus.

If you’re interested in my next Creative Business Retreat Weekend in March 2020, I currently have two places left.

And for more information about future events, you can sign up to my newsletter.

Fancy a private retreat or workshop for a small number of friends or colleagues, get in touch!

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