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266: Episode 1: Getting Started (rebroadcast)

“I want you to know you’re not alone in whatever it is that feels like a struggle in your creative business.” -Tara Swiger Learn more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast266

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In today’s episode we are throwing it ALL the way back to the very first episode of this podcast!

I share a little about my goals and dreams for the podcast and my own business journey (up until that point!).

As I said at the time:
“I want you to know you're not alone, in whatever it is, that feels like a struggle in your creative business: making money, finding motivation, being consistent. More than anything, I hope you like it. I hope this helps us connect in a new way and help you feel supported, encouraged and part of this great community of amazing makers.”

Be sure to share that you’re listening by using the hashtag #exploreyourenthusiasm on Instagram and follow my Stories and vlog for the most up-to-date info during my podcast hiatus!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

258: You have impact

“If you don’t build the thing you want to build, if you don’t lead the life you want to lead… who won’t be impacted? Who will still think it’s not possible?” Read more at TaraSwiger.com/podcast258

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Who does your work have an impact on?

We've talked before about what you might give up in order to fulfill your dream. But what are you creating? What are you gaining? How is your work impacting others? Get ready to fall in love with your dream a little more, and get fired up.

You know what I realized the other day? This month this podcast is FIVE YEARS OLD. I have written, recorded and produced a weekly episode every week for FIVE YEARS. Yay! I wanna celebrate!

How can you help me celebrate? Share the show! Take a screenshot of your phone or picture of what you're doing while you listen and share it on Instagram and tag me and the show! I'm @taraswiger and the hashtag is #exploreyourenthusiasm.

Leaving reviews helps others know they should tune in – you can do it on iTunes or over on YouTube, just give it a thumbs up!

The last few weeks we've talk about time and balance and sacrificing things so you can get stuff done. And it's easy to focus on what you're taking away or losing out on while you're working. Maybe you have less time with kids, or less time for your hobbies. But another way to think about this is to focus on what you're creating, what you're giving to the world. Because in every bit of work you're doing, you are making an impact.

If you’ve been asking yourself “Can I do this? Will it be too hard on my family? Am I allowed to do this?” Let’s turn that around. The question to be asking is “Who are you impacting? What will NOT doing this, take away from the world?”

Because here’s the thing – ANY amount of doing something you care deeply about, any amount of working towards building something new, is going to be an inspiration to others. It’s going to provide an example of what’s possible. It’s going to give them permission to follow their OWN dream. Yes, building a business does this, but so does following ANY dream – even if it's giving yourself time to work on your hobby, or working at paying down your debt, or saving up for a vacation, or running a half-marathon, or becoming a parent through foster care or adoption.

Wait, let’s back up even farther – ANY thing you do is an example to others of what’s possible.

Are you holding yourself back? You’re setting an example. Are you telling yourself that you can’t do X because you’re not enough? You don’t have enough education, you’re too big, you’re too old, you’re don’t have enough money? THAT is setting an example.

When you don’t do something because of reasons, you are telling other people – you can’t do that either.

If I believed the voices in my head that told me my voice is too annoying or I’m too fat to have a podcast, I would be telling other woman who look or sound like me that they can’t do it either.

You see, setting an example, being an example, isn’t just about setting an example for kids. Having kids is often the first time people THINK about the example they’re setting, but you’re an example to everyone in your world.

So the question isn’t “Can I do this?” but “What example am I setting by not doing it?”

And I don’t say this so you can feel ashamed by what you haven’t done – getting stuck in the past isn’t going to help anyone. I’m telling you this, so you can make your decisions from a NEW place. A place where you’ve reframed “following your dream” from something selfish, to something noble, something altruistic.

Watching you build your dream is inspiring.

It's inspiring to your kids, your friends, your community. Even when you fail, you are showing the people in your life that failure is a part of it. So many of us grow up afraid of failure, afraid of being wrong, that we don’t realize failure is a necessary part of doing big things. Inspiration isn’t just fun, it’s vital to the process of acknowledging and following dreams! Without it, we wouldn’t even begin to dream or to imagine what’s possible. Take a minute and think about the people who have inspired you to bring you where you are right now.

Homework: Reach out to at least one of these people and tell them that they inspired you. You can say something super simple: Thank you so much for doing X, that inspired me to take action on my own dream.

You are providing an example of what's possible.

Take a minute and think about the people you knew growing up. What jobs did they do? Like me, were you surrounded by hair stylists, roofers, members of the military and the best of all possible jobs (in my kid-mind) : teachers and librarians? Or did you grow up knowing doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs? None of these jobs is better than the others, but the jobs you grow up seeing are the ones you believe are possible. Maybe you grew up and moved out and met other people, who had other jobs and you thought: Hey! I didn’t know real people did that job!

The biggest obstacle I find in people actually starting their business or to do freelance work? They literally don’t believe that it’s possible for real people. Maybe that girl on Instagram, but I bet she grew up with money. Maybe that dude is an entrepreneur, but he went to an Ivy League school.

I know it may sound impossible to you, but when you choose to build a nontraditional career? You are changing the examples of what’s possible. You are changing the definition of what a “job” is, for the people in your community.

You are also giving people permission to follow their own path.

You are providing inspiration, you are setting new examples of what’s possible. AND, you are giving people permission. And honey, we all need permission.

We have all been raised to wait for permission. Wait to be called on. Wait to be picked for the job. Wait to be chosen by a partner or friend. But as you know, no one will choose you and hand you your path. You have to build it. You get to decide what you want it to be, but then you have to take action, long before anyone else has decided you can. Before they’ve decided you’re worth it. Before you’ve been chosen for the craft show, or the book deal, or the magazine feature.

YOU had to give yourself permission a lot before you got a business even up and running. To get to your biggest dreams, to where you want to be in 10 or 20 years, you’re going to have to give yourself even more permission.

And the people around you? They’ve been trained the same way. They are waiting for someone to tell them that they can do it. But they can choose themselves too. Seeing you invest in yourself, seeing you spend the time and money to build your thing? It will give them permission, to do something for themselves.

This is how your impacting your world!
You are giving permission!
You are being an example!
You are inspiring!

Who in your life is being impacted? If you don’t build the thing you want to build, if you don’t lead the life you want to lead…who won’t be impacted? Who won’t be inspired? Who will still think it’s not possible?

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

222: Upgrade your “everybody”

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Everybody knows it's too risky to have a business. Everybody is following their passion and making a million dollars doing it. Everybody knows you need to be on Instagram. Or have an email list. Everybody knows you can’t grow on Instagram on anymore.

Which of these statements is true?
It depends on your own personal “everybody”. Today we're going to talk about who “everybody” is and how upgrading your “everybody” can improve your life.

Today we're going to talk about how your concept of “everyone” is shaping your biz and life and happiness, and how you can trade it all in for a better “everyone”.

We'll get into the specifics in a minute, but before we do I want to remind you that the Starship, which is a brilliant way to improve your “everyone” is open now. You can find it at Taraswiger.com/Starshipbiz. It's a 90 day program that will help you uncover your mission, your profitability and your best marketing plan.

I first came across this idea of a personal “everybody” in Martha Beck's Finding Your Own North Star, but psychologists have been studying it for awhile – they call it “the generalized other”.

All of us have a concept of a (or many) “generalized other” – it's what you think other people think about you. It's what you mean by “other people” or “everyone”.

We use this concept of “everyone” to determine our actions and to figure out what's expected of us.

However, it's faulty. Because obviously there is no uniform “everybody”. Everybody doesn't come to the same conclusions or have the same beliefs or live the same life.

But your personalized idea of “everybody” can feel large and overwhelming and uniform.

Martha Beck writes, “everybody’s Everybody is composed of just a few key people.” You may have a few different groups of  “everybody” – everybody believes this is the best way to parent, everybody says this is what you have to do in business.

But this is really just a few people.

You consider these few key people's opinions when you're making your own decisions. And this is how your “everybody” holds you back – if your “generalized other” is the wrong people it'll keep you from feeling like it's safe or “right” do something. The wrong everybody is people who haven't done what you want to do or just don't know about the things you care about.

In order to fit it, belong and stay safe, you won't do what “everybody” disapproves of, or what “everybody” fears.

The solution: Upgrade your Everyone.

This doesn't mean you break up with the people in your life, it's just that you don't let their opinion shape YOUR opinion. You pick who's opinion and examples you're going to pay attention to.

It can be really simple to start – you just get to know people who have done and are doing what you want to do. You get to know people who have really different lives than you.

You've already upgraded your Everybody a few times in your life – when you started going to friend's houses. When you started your first job. When you met other makers.

To grow the next stage of your business or dream, you may need to upgrade your everybody.

This is why the Starship, my online community for makers and artists, and other groups like it, can be so powerful – because you meet a whole bunch of others you can adopt into your “generalized other”.

So instead of believing  “everybody knows you can't make money with art,” you will meet people who DO make money with art. You will realize that there's another set of Everybodys who believes the exact opposite of what you originally thought.

You can also solve this everybody-problem by becoming conscious of who is in your “generalized other and consciously choosing someone else.

For example, if everybody believes you have to have a huge Instagram following in order to make your business profitable, you need to find people how have smaller followings and who are still succeeding at what you want to do. And then when you're thinking about how you’re going to grow, think about them!

They may not be doing exactly what you’re doing, but go find those people. And then when you’re thinking about growing, make sure they are in the “generalized everybody” that you’re thinking about.

Whenever I’m doing my New Year planning, or Mapmaking I take a minute and I ask: Who is going to be on my advisory board? This is your internal advisory board. It’s basically staffing your generalized other.

Just ask yourself: who do I want to give me advice? Who has the kind of life I want? Or the kind of attitude I want to incorporate into my business this year, or next three months?

This can be anyone you want. You want to staff your advisory board with people who you admire – their business, or what they’ve accomplished, or their personality. Ask yourself: who do I want to be on my advisory board and write them down.

Then when you find yourself asking: what should I do here? Or what direction should I go in? Sit down, get quiet, and ask your advisory board. Ask yourself: what would “business owner who I super admire” do in this situation?

You don’t have to have met them, to guess what they would suggest. It’s just a fun way of getting out of your own head, and getting out of the generalized other of your family or your community, and into the generalized other of people who are doing what you want to be doing.

If you'd like to upgrade your everybody with a bunch of makers, designers, shop owners and teachers who are building amazing businesses, and you'd like to explore your own dream, plans, profitability, and marketing, check out the Starship Program – taraswiger.com/Starshipbiz. You can sign up in the show notes to meet some of those everybodys in a short series of emails.

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Inside the Starship: Who, What and How we build stellar businesses

Since 2010 I have led a private community for makers and artists who are serious about their creative businesses. In this episode of Explore Your Enthusiasm, I’m talking all about the “behind the scenes” of what happens in The Starship, listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast172

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The Starship. You may have heard me mention that in the past, but judging from your emails… you have no idea what I’m talking about. In today’s episode I’m going to take you behind the scenes of my private online community.

Links about Community and Accountability:

Links to the Starship Captains I mentioned:

Interviews with Starship Captains:

How to listen:

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

The Power of Community

Find community aboard the Starship, on TaraSwiger.com

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Having a community of supportive, encouraging and whip-smart fellow business explorers completely transformed my business. In today's episode, I share a bit about how my business has been shaped by the communities I was a part of and what led me to create a community of other makers + writers, aboard the Starship. If you're feeling lonely or down, listen in as I share my secret mission and how it involves you.

 

Note: The Starship closes THIS Friday, 6/27/14, at 4 pm. To learn more, check it out it here.

 

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

 

 

Why your business needs community

Community
Ever since I started my business, I've struggled with this dichotomy: I'm an introvert that spends (and prefers to spend!) 8-10 hours a day alone, making or writing, working in my own head and hands… AND I know that community and connection is absolutely the most powerful tool for business growth.
Luckily, I live in an age where I can connect to millions, while still working physically alone everyday. I've been blessed to be part of supportive communities, from the first time I wandered into the then-brand-new Etsy in 2005, all the way to building my own community aboard the Starship. (I'll be sharing more about my personal history with communities and how they've changed my business in tomorrow's podcast.)
But as easy as the internet makes “connecting” –  I know I'm not alone in having a hard time finding real friends and connections, both online and off. For starters, it's easy to think of connecting as just wasting time (even when studies prove that the more we maintain connections, the more successful we'll be.) Or to actually waste time and title it “connecting”. (Refreshing Twitter does NOT equal building relationships.)

On top of the whole time issue, it's really hard to find people who get it, who are not just creative and dedicated to building a business, in the same way we are (with gentleness, curiosity, and sustainability.)

But no matter how hard it is, you DO need community.

Even the most driven among us (and I was raised by two Marines, so yeah, I’m pretty internally-motivated), can’t keep up the sustained, long-term work that a business takes, in a vacuum.
When you don't have support, it often presents as laziness – a lack of focus, or lack of commitment – but beating yourself up is NOT the answer.
The saner (and more sustainable!) solution is to find a support network, to “outsource” some of the accountability to your community.

People to who will check in (kindly!) with you.
People who will give you honest (gentle) feedback.
People who will remind you to celebrate your success!

Whether you find these people on Twitter, Facebook, in a forum or even at your local coffeeshop – knowing that you're not the only one that cares about your business, is mightily powerful. It will motivate you to stay focused, to keep working (even when you want to quit), and to try just a little harder. When you spend time with other businesses, you'll begin to believe that more is possible, and you'll get more and more clear on what the path to your success is.

If you're having a hard time finding a community that will keep you accountable (gently!) and spark your motivation, check out the Starship. It was built for crafters, makers, artists, and writers, who need a bit of support, as they work hard on their own business + dreams (and it closes this Friday!) 

Laila’s crafting a community-lovin’ business

The concept of “creating community” can be tricky. I asked Laila, who is the creative genius of LaiGrai to give us her insights, because the Ravelry group for fans of her work is seriously fun place. Unlike a lot of other groups based on a shared passion for an artist's yarn (even mine), hers is filled with fun, sillyness and non-stop interaction.

Long before I knew I was going to create my own little community of craftybiz'ers (the super-awesome gathering place is coming in just! 4! weeks!), I was curious about Laila's and so I shot her these questions.

 

(because I find everything about Laila completely adorable, I'm keeping her answers in her own voice + style of writing. I know you're going to fall in love with her!)

Laila, your Ravelry group, which celebrates your handmade yarn and spinning fiber is seriously rocking.
Has it always been like this?

In short, yes and no.

Let's start from the beginning.

Businesses aren't islands- we all help each other. so from the very start, i had the aid and wonderful support of my first yarn mentor rachel-marie. rachel marie wanted to help me get my newly formed group going.

we kicked it off with a big shared knit-along … bringing in a THIRD person,  melissa of yearofthegoat, by deciding to use her “the medium is the message” tunic sweater as our knit-along pattern.

it was completely unintentional- it wasn't like, i'll do this KAL and people will flock to me- or anything. it started that rachel & i were going to work through the pattern together and people saw our photos on flickr and wanted to make it too- so we put up a thread and more and more people joined… it felt SO great!! many people came out of lurking + rachel marie brought her base + melissa helped point people our way with mentioning our KAL & my group in a magazine… so that was the start of my group becoming “active”!

next, a knit-along-er who made the sweater with us, { & who would later become one of my close yarn friends}, drucilla pettibone, suggested that i host/participate in the tour de fleece in 2009, something i had never really heard about… so just like that, we started a tour thread seeing if anyone was interested in doing this crazy thing? the tour  team was born – that is sort of how i reached my core group of fiber friends,

the first team had a full pirate theme and i custom made over 20 ravatars (avatars for Ravelry) in photoshop- everyone picked monikers like “marooned hot pants”  – it was a hilarious good time and that was the first thread that reached over 1000 posts!!

now i host a team annually, this july will be our 3rd year.

there is a lot of silliness that happens in the group and we sort of feed off each other with that- nothing is too silly for us.

as a way to pay it forward with all the help i received, i keep my group super super OPEN to any and all fiberistas looking for a place where members are already active & looking to host a KAL {maybe as a way to test a pattern, or just for fun}

last year, rachel-marie was hosting a handspun sock-along (one of the owner's of webs was participating!) and rachel was hosting a sweater-along. this year- currently dani is hosting a shawl-a-month-along

The  KALs (knitalongs) are open-ended so the most recent couple are STICKIED to the top of the board but the others are not archived so anyone can pop in & use all our past comments as helpful bits on how to get past a tricky spot that had the rest of us stumped (or  more like, just me ;)) or to revive a KAL that petered out.

it is more fun that way- no deadlines to stress over, make what you want..when you want it!!  we also have a thread dedicated to just SUGGESTING what we want to make next called “future fun-alongs

Do you think a lot about “building community” or has it happened organically?

so yes, it has happened organically- but also because i realized that what makes me most happy about being a fiberista is the community. and that is beyond etsy, beyond ravelry even, i spend every day corresponding and emailing the friendliest (!!) knitters and spinners and chatting about fibers. i love talking about yarns and wool breeds and even just seeing what people are creating.. another thing that keeps it open and friendly is that i never force anyone to use only my fibers- b/c that's not the point.  so despite it having the most like ME-ME-ME name ever “i love lai grai” – it is really way way way way more than that! it should be called- “i love talking to like minded spinners, knitters, crocheters, who are funny and witty and just want to be able share jokes and humor and recent projects and new fiber acquisitions and of course, gab about the latest fiber club shipment, or show what just came out of your dyepots!”

i don't ever want it to feel like- THIS IS ME BEING PROMOTIONAL. b/c it was never about that- i love that it stays true to what the rav boards are… FORUMS! anyone can start a topic- i love that there are definitely ancient threads, showing my history- i love that threads can get buried and pop! back to the top after a long hiatus and i'm like, oh i totally forgot we had a “what are you watching?” tv thread! i love the IT crowd, it's great to see that my friend dani's kids do too! haha, and we are ALL true blood fans! tara- you and i discussed our love for HIMYM! 🙂  (we also have a what are you reading thread + a what are you listening to music thread!)

it's just a place to come and chat and sometimes bitch and always laugh and be super super friendly!

Most everyone you listed here, the most active community members, actually sell what you sell (as do I!)…but there's no hint of competition in your description.

sure, technically we are all in “competition” with one another, but i just DON'T see them as that- they are truly my friends.  some of us talk every day. we try to plan fun things to share together. lacey dished how she works in those awesome knitted icords, and dani shared her awesome triloom photos, and faun shows peeks at some of the awesome flea market finds she digs up (for crazy cheap too!!) and despite them having their OWN ravelry groups- i like that we are able to cross over without being like … oh gawd, stop pushing your fiber in my group (well they never do that anyway, and certainly aren't PUSHY) but still, i would LOVE if one of my customers bought from them- i support all their shops – why shouldn't my customers?

i feel like there is plenty of fiber-love to go around! the more you give, the more you receive. b/c i have their backs- they have mine & we never planned that- we just became pals and WANTED to spin-along together or knit-along together. but then, i have to step back and remember that each of these gals are ROCK STARS, i am honored that we get to be pals and i love that my ravelry group makes it even easier to connect with even more yarnies like them- b/c i am ALWAYS open to making more fiber friends! 🙂

It seems (from your explanation), that the steps to growing your community were:

1. Partner with others in the community
2. Create a space where everyone (even “competitors”) are welcome
3. encourage sillyness, inside jokes and fun!

yes!

partnering with others & embracing competitors are kinda the same! they go hand in hand.

plus, yes- silliness, inside jokes, fun are crucial. start with a core group of 5-10 participants that are really active + good friends.

reach out to include others- that means -ALONGS! spin alongs, knit alongs, hug alongs, laugh alongs! those are really the cornerstone foundations of a fun group.

try to create some base rules, but keep it loose. by not demanding that everyone only use my fiber- it made more people feel able to be included without financial pressure.
also, create some threads that are not about fiber/yarn/knitting/spinning. yes we all love those things- but what ELSE do we have in common?
a love for true blood? AWESOME!
a hankering for british comedians? yes please!
coffee addicts not-so-anonymous? yes, yes, we are all that too!

and like you always say, tara, let YOU shine through and they will come & want to hang!

 

A huge thanks to laila for giving us a look into how she's done it.

Even though she's a knitter + talked about knit-alongs, I'm certain you can adapt them to fit your own craftybiz.

What bit of community-lovin' can you apply today?
Tell us about in the comments!

 

(all images courtesy of LaiGrai.com)