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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.

What this is all about.

Finally cold enough for tights, sweater, shawl. #yayfall

This is not about making more sales.
This is not about making more money.
This is not even about following your passion.

What we're doing here, together, is exploring your business to make it more sustainable, and more in alignment with your values, vision, and self.

But it's not so that you can get more customers, pay your bills or do what you love.
Those are metrics – they help us measure how sustainable and healthy your business is.
But they are not the real why.

This is about personal responsibility.

The real goal, the reason for you to build a sustainable business + to take the time to explore it is because you are responsible for your life + happiness. You are the only one who is going to create the change you desire.  You are the author, the actor, the stage.

When you begin to take responsibility, when you start to follow the threads of your enthusiasm towards a craft, a business, a calling, you grow more confident.

With that confidence, you are able to bring more peace, joy and love into the world.

You start to wonder…if you can start a business+ provide for your family, what else can you do? If you can define success for yourself, and work in a way that works for you, where else can shift your expectations? Where else can you bring integrity and wholeness?

 

This is really about bringing more peace, joy and love to the world.

Making your art brings you joy.
Sharing your art is an expression of love.
Living in alignment with your values (whatever they are: beauty, peace, freedom, self-expression) brings you + your family more joy and peace.

 But how you go about it matters. If you pile on “shoulds”, expectations and other people's values, you'll crush that spark. You'll suck out the joy, the expression of love. You'll miss out on the confidence because you'll never fit in someone else's mold. And when your spark is crushed, your work won't have the same power to move, inspire or change the world.

This is huge, world-changing stuff, but it doesn't have to be a huge production. You don't have to sell* a zillion things to change your life (or someone else's). You don't have to create the perfect, peaceful workday to take joy in your work.

You only have to explore.
Pay attention.
Revisit your expectations.
Define success for yourself.
Make your own map.
Look for ways to integrate your values into what you do, how you talk about it and who you serve.

 

PS. I call the above “exploring” – an active verb – because you'll never be done with it. This is the real work of your art, the real work of changing the world.

 

*You don't have to sell anything to change the world. But this is for the makers I work with, people who are called/inspired to share their work by selling it. If you're not called/inspired, know that you can take personal responsibility in another way.

 

Change takes time

This is Beau's face when I jump up & yell: Dance Break! #boredpuppy

The hardest part about believing that Things Can Change...is that things take time.

It's hard to believe it will ever happen, because, hardly anything important changes all at once.

Things take time.

I'm addicted to setting big crazy goals, splitting them into 3 month maps and then pursuing it like crazy. Each quarter when we map-make in the Starship we also take the time to review the quarter before. The Captains are always amazed by what they've accomplished in 3 months. And also, disappointed at what hasn't changed…yet.

Things take time. 

It takes time to make your first sale.
It takes time to make your 10th sale.
It takes time to build a business that pays any bills.
It takes even more time to figure out what you're doing and how to talk about it.
It takes time to put all the systems in place that introduce people to your work effectively.

Even though you know this, it's still frustrating. You thought it'd be faster. You thought that if you just did x + y, everything would come together and your business would thrive.
You thought if you bought the class, read the book, worked with that one person, things would go faster.

But things take time.

When your goal is something life-changing like quitting your dayjob, or going to your first trade show, or writing your first book, it takes time. It takes time to get to the point where you can even start on it. And then it takes time to prepare to do it. And then it takes time to actually do it.
And sometimes, after all that, it's not what you expected.

This is just a fact of business (and life). It's why I focus so obsessively on exploring what works for you. Because if your business is only about those Big Moments, you're bound to be dissapointed. The Big Moments take time…and then they're rarely what we expected.
It's so much more sustainable (and fun) to make every day full of enthusiasm. To make reaching your goals a daily exploration into what's going well and what you want to change. It makes the time move more quickly, or at least more pleasantly. It helps you shift your focus from what's ahead, to what's happening right in front of you.

 

What are you tired of waiting for?

What can you enjoy a bit of right now, today, without waiting? 

 

 


We explore what's working, make maps and celebrate success inside the Starship, which will open to new cadets next Wednesday. If you're curious about it read this, and then sign up to learn more.

 

 

 

 

You don’t always need to GROW.

dontneedtogrow

Although I'm a fan of (and evangelist for) quarterly map-making (setting a new goal, plotting the course to get there), I don't mean to imply that we'll want to grow every month, end over end, for ever and ever.

Most of us are at the place in our business where we want and need regular growth to get to the point of a sustainable,  reliable business (and income.) And we know that just waiting around for that growth to happen isn't going to work. We have to plan for it, lay out a path, and do the work to move towards the destination. A lot of times, this looks growth.

But even before we get there, before we have that sustainable and nourishing business, every quarter (or month, or day!) isn't about growth or sales or money.

Some are for healing.
Some are for resting.
Some are for immersing in the work.
Some are for learning.
Some are for  flow – finding how we work and operate best.
Some are for finishing and shipping.

Those months aren't just breaks from growth – they are the catalyst of growth. They are the fertilizer and sunshine and rain. They build the foundation, repair the weak spots and replenish your enthusiasm. Even when you're not setting the intention to grow a metric in your business, you are still growing, as a person, a business owner, a maker. 

And when you get that sustainable, reliable business (and income) you may still seek growth – in sales or in another metric, like skill growth, project growth, free-time growth.

As you set your destination for this quarter, or you review the last one, don't be discouraged.

Remember that you're plotting a destination not so that you're always striving, but so that you focus your energy on what you really want, so that you filter out the distractions, so that you find your own path and trust your choices.

 

What's your destination this quarter?