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How (and why) my business has changed over the years: an inside look

Businesses evolve over time. Over 11 years of owning and running a creative biz, mine has evolved a lot, but the core message has always remained the same. Learn how (and why) my creative business has changed over the years, and get a peak inside how I do thinks at TaraSwiger.com/podcast168/

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I started my first business in 2006. 11 years later, it’s changed a lot on the outside, but the overarching themes and my own Mission have remained surprisingly cohesive.

Today, we’ll look at how the message and intention have remained the same while the delivery has changed.

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How to listen

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Find all the podcast episodes here.

Commitments, change and the Great Blank Page of Life

Today's my 8th wedding anniversary.

 

I woke up this morning all glow-y just thinking about it. But why? We don't have special plans, or do anything crazy, but I love this day, nearly above all others.

I think it's because today is really about commitment.

I'm a fan of the Big Change. I'm changing things all the time. I moved states in 2 weeks. I quit my dayjob. I opened a yarn store. I closed the yarn store as soon as I realized it wasn't for me. I change how I sell yarn almost as often as I think about it.

Change, change, change – I like it!
(I'm singing this now*)
A year ago, when I was trying to decide between creating a line of mill-made yarn to wholesale OR  to write a book, I had dinner with Cairene. I told her, I'm afraid that I'm afraid of commitment. That I won't pick either project because they're just so big and long-term. What if I'm holding myself back because I like to change everything all the time.
And she said something like, “You are NOT afraid of commitment. You're married! You're committed to your business, and to your community. You commit to the stuff that matters, so you'll make good decisions about all the other stuff.”

That has stuck with me, and I remember it when I have big scary choices. I worry that I change too much, that I'm missing out on the benefits of slow and steady…but that's not true. I'm just very picky about my commitments. Because commitments are big, and they give life shape.

Celebrating an anniversary is not about getting married, it's about the commitment I made, not to just not get divorced (that's the bare minimum for being married), but to love this person. To figure him out. To communicate, even when I don't want to. To be vulnerable. To look at my Stuff. To let him communicate, be vulnerable, to see his Stuff, to see his very heart and to choose to react with love and tenderness.

 

 

This commitment isn't just to Jay, it's a commitment to my life. To open up, to experience it all and still stay soft. To show up and choose love and tenderness. It's not a one time thing. Or an every-year thing.
It's a daily thing. I have to daily choose love, tenderness and understanding. In every area of my life, in every relationship (even the one with myself.)

And there's something special about committing to this anew each day. Choosing this commitment again and again provides a kind of constraint to my change. A healthy, creative constraint. It's like writing with a timer on – the constraint allows a great freedom, because you know you can do anything within that. It takes away the Great Blank Page of Life, and fills in the outline.

Knowing that you've got this outline, this shape, creates a safe space to move in. I can change everything about my life, every week if I want, I can explore new things, I can set off on adventures, because of this safety. And the really great thing: it doesn't take the government, or a church, or even flowers (but I did love my flowers).

All it takes is a commitment.
To love. To choose. To live and feel and still, love.

 

*Uh, the words to that song are “chain, chain, chain, chain of fools”…but I, until this very moment, thought she was saying “change, change, change”.   Hmm.

Things Change: 3 ways to make it suck less

Yesterday I shared a bit about how a thing (an offer, a service, an IdeaStorming thing) changed after I let it out into the world.
Today I wanted to share what I learned through that (and many many many other changes). Ways to make it suck less. Ways to maybe make it awesome.

Disclaimer: I'm mostly talking about systems that need change. Things in your business that you can influence. Not other people's actions, not outside forces. You. Your crafty biz. Your changes.

1. Notice

Always the first step to change: notice.
Notice what your customers are saying.
Notice what your people are asking for.
Notice what you're resisting.

Noticing gives you a little more…I don't want to say “control”…but influence.

Do you have a system in place for listening and noticing?

2. Don't resist

This particular example was pretty awesome: something I offered as being X turned out to be most helpful when it was Y.
But the change was only awesome because I didn't resist.
When clients said “Hey, I have plenty of ideas, what I'm struggling with is focus”, I said “Sure!”

I was really in love with the idea of IdeaStorming, but I am more in love with giving crafty businesses what they need. Rolling with the changes they suggest just make it better for both of us.

Is there something you've noticed but are resisting? Would it make things better for your customers?

(Example from my own crafty biz: I hate purple. Can't stand it. Customers always ask for it. I've resisted in the past, but why? It makes knitters SO happy and it's not compromising my morals.)

3. Make it gentle

Once you notice a thing you could change, there's no need to overhaul everything. Make a gentle shift into the new thing.

What super small teeny change could you make? What's the smallest possible step?

How do you make changes in your creative business?