I’ve been the When I Grow Up Coach since 2008, working with creative women to bring their dream businesses to life, and I’ve come across all of the excuses a dreamer could have about not being ready to launch or commit to their business.
It makes me weep, especially since the things we tell ourselves that matter when it comes to having successful creative businesses are usually, um, the things that don’t matter.
Here’s what your future clients don’t actually care about:
1.Whether or not you received education in what you’re doing. While a BFA or an MBA or a PhD or insert-your-certification-of-choice-here is great, ultimately it’s not what gets you hired.
Sure, you need to have more knowledge of the thing you’re charging for than the person who’s paying you to do it. But if you’re self-taught? Or have “just” a certification and not a degree? Or went to school for something totally different but have professional and/or personal experience in your (aspiring) creative business? That totally counts, too!
2. Whether or not you’re doing it full-time. I hired my web designer when she was still working full-time for an ad agency, and I couldn’t care less. All that concerned me was that (a) she worked with my husband, who had nothing but super high praise for her, (b) I totally resonated with her aesthetic and loved the sites she created, and (c) what she charged fit within my budget. The end. Whether you are working on your creative business sometimes, part-time, or full-time, it’s still your business! You’re still doing it! It’s still real!
3. Public recognition for your work. It’s always nice to be talked up in a paper, a trade magazine, or online. But, if you haven’t? It doesn’t matter! What matters is that you’ve done work that your clients are so happy with that they tell others about how amazeballs you are and/or write you great testimonials to put on your site.
4. Your age, your gender, where you live, etc. I can’t recall a single bio I’ve ever read that reveals someone’s age (“Michelle is a 42-year-old business coach for creative women…”), and I’ve never knowingly been told I didn’t get hired because I was too old (or young!). And, although I lived in Brooklyn amongst millions of creative types when I was getting started, I had to build my business from a cubicle – so I was able to work with clients virtually and build my business globally. (Today, I work from my amazeballs home office complete with family photos, my pink ukulele, and my young daughter playing in the living room!) It no longer matters if you’re a 55-year-old from Idaho – you can still put up your art online, find your people, and make your sales (even if the locals can’t appreciate it).
Really, what your future clients care about is:
1.Your point of view. The copy on your site. Your aesthetic. Your personality traits. Your experience. It all adds up to “branding” – but being clear in and owning your personal point of view (I like to call it “uniquity”) is what’ll resonate with those who you’ll work with best.
I made sure my title of “business coach for creative women” kept away those who don’t resonate with being called “creative.” Since I’m a gatekeeper, I get to work with those who I do see eye-to-eye with, and I’m able to knock it out of the park with them because we speak the same language.
2. Your commitment to your work. If you drag your feet answering emails from potential clients, don’t put up any new work for months, are too shy to tell others what you’re offering, or disappear on your clients…well, that’s the type of stuff that sinks a business.
3. Your network, a.k.a. a group of people who resonate with your work. I love that we’re in The Age of the Internet, because the virtual net we’re able to cast for clients or customers or fans is so wide! It’s no longer about whether those who are local to you like your work (or teachers or family or friends) – it’s about whether there’s a group of people throughout the world who resonate with it enough to like it, buy it, and tell others about it.
4. That you present yourself as a professional from the start. You will want a website (no matter how simple) that clearly outlines the information your clients need to know and matches whatever messaging you’re using to introduce yourself and describe what you do. You will want a website with clear and consistent branding, even if it’s not done by a pro (yet!). This all shows that you are a professional who takes themself and their business seriously. If you’re just slapping a bunch of random clipart or stock photos in all the colors and fonts on your website and your business Instagram is a bunch of cat memes from a year ago, that ain’t helping anyone.
5. The results you give your clients. Everyone!: This is how word of mouth spreads. Delivering stellar results will build your client base and help spread the news that a creative, talented woman is out there offering [insert your business here]. It is also what will keep former and existing clients coming back for more! Don’t worry about all the *stuff* everyone else is seemingly doing, or the Vampire Voices in your head that suck all the good things out. Just focus on the great work you’re offering and how good you are making your clients feel.
By all means, this is not a fully comprehensive list of every excuse I’ve heard about not getting your biz up and running, but it’s almost certainly resonating, am I right?
To put a stop to the excuses once and for all, I invite you to check out my 90 Day Business Launch and Build Your Client Base programs, both designed to help you get out of your own way and start or grow your dream business into the star you know it can be. You actually can do this, and your dream clients are ready for you!