Last month I spent 4 days with over 500 makers, crafters, and artists, at Craftcation. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been surrounded by so many of my people. It was a fantastic experience and I left feeling completely refreshed and inspired. It’s taken me a few weeks to recover and crystalize the lessons I learned while I was there. These lessons come straight from other businesses just like yours, so I hope they inspire you as much as they did me!
1. You are not alone.
Everyone who is doing this (building a business from what they love), feels the same way: they doubt their ability, they doubt their sanity, they don't know which of the 100000s of things to start with. So! Your self-doubt and overwhelm is NOT a sign that you shouldn’t be doing this, or that you’re failing. It’s a totally normal part of the process.
2. It's all about the head game.
Guess what’s true about all the people who have seemed to have “made it”?
- They are worried about the same things (see #1 above).
- They have figured out a way to take action despite self-doubt and overwhelm.
The difference between the successes and the people who have quit in frustration? They mastered their own doubt. They figured out how to keep themselves motivated. They figured out how to get the most effective work done in even the tiniest pockets of time. They stick to their own definition of success instead of getting wrapped up in what other people are doing.
That’s really it. They’re not super special. They don’t possess some secret knowledge (except how to not let their own doubt derail them). Really.
3. It's good to know how other people describe your work … within reason.
I had two peers tell me, at completely different times, that when they get an email from someone struggling with the emotional stuff of running a business (self-doubt, motivation, getting distracted), they recommend my work. This is so very flattering (and a bit surprising), but I guess it makes sense: what we talk about here is not just “do this”, but “this is how you'll actually get up the nerve/motivation/time to do this”.
Although I know what I write about, I had no idea how others (who aren't students) perceived it and hearing from them taught me a lot about both my messaging and my actual skills. (I DO like talking about feelings…and most other small-business-teacher-types do NOT.) This was an awesome reminder to keep focusing on what I'm good at, what I'm enthusiastic about, and what actually helps my people.
The caveat, of course, is to not let yourself get distracted by what other people think. I also learned someone had misrepresented my work to others (years ago), and it was VERY easy for me to spiral into “OMG! Everyone hates me!”…but the fact is, my peers' opinions of my work matters NOT AT ALL. What matters more is what my customers experience and if my work makes their life better or not. If the people I'm writing for get it, and my work improves their life … that's where to put my attention.
4. People are looking for realness.
I can't believe how many conversations I had with teachers, students, and strangers stating that what they appreciated about Craftcation was the experience of seeing everyone else (even rockstars of our world) as real, normal people. The teachers were honest, the panelists got real, and that's what makes talking to other makers (at all stages of the journey) so valuable – hearing that you're not alone. But the only way we get to have this experience is to actually, ya know, BE REAL. That means admitting when you messed up, owning up to your successes and not hiding behind a “I got it all figured out” facade.
No, you shouldn't email your customers when you're upset, but don't be afraid to be real with them, when you get the chance. Don't pretend like you know it all. (You don't. No one does). If you show up as yourself, your relationships (with customers and peers) will be a zillion times more real and nourishing. You'll learn things you didn't know you didn't know. And you'll have more fun.
(I got a lot of comments from podcast listeners saying some form of: “Oh my gosh! You’re so real and humble!” Um, of course I am! I had to figure out how to get good coffee each morning, just like everyone else. Caffeine addiction: The great equalizer.)
5. Other people are doing this. Use that fact as motivation.
There are hundreds (thousands?) of makers who are doing this. Mothers. Fathers. Cat Owners. Painters. Bakers. Bloggers. Quilters.
When you doubt if this is even possible, look to those who have done it, not as an excuse to beat yourself up, but as a reminder that YOU CAN DO THIS. This is do-able. If that person figured out how to do it, you can too. It's all learnable.
Remember Lesson #2? Using real life examples as motivation and encouragement is part of winning the head game. It's how you keep moving forward even when you don't feel like it. It's how you convince yourself THIS. IS. POSSIBLE.
Because here's the biggest lesson: If you don't believe it's possible, you won't do it.
I know, that could be on a motivational poster in Barney's office , but it's so so true. If you think “there's no way to make money at this“, you won't find a way to make money. If you believe “She figured this out, so there must be a way, I'm going to keep going” … well, you stand a chance.
If you're feeling like you just don't have time for everything you need to do for your business, let's fix that. Learn how to get stuff done, in a way that works for you (no matter how much or little time you have), in Wrangle Your Time. Registration is now open, and closes on Sunday. Class starts next Monday!