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3 steps to embracing your multitudes (for when you want to do and be more)

Making a collage for blog post on being more than one thing.

During the last week, my inbox and Twitter stream has been full of your stories about being  More Than One Thing. Although there are a zillion ways to be more than one thing, and a million ways of working it out in your business, it seems that most everyone's stories fit into one of three patterns:

 

  1. You wear a lot of hats. As a maker-seller, you design the product, make the product, do the bookkeeping, manage the marketing, and label each and everything. This is less about your you-ness and more about scheduling, being productive and making a map.  Whether you sell scarves or apps, being a small business owner is all about juggling the myriad responsibilities and priorities.
  2. You have so many interests, but your public “persona” doesn't reflect your gorgeous ginormousness. You might sell sewing patterns, but you also knit and do puppetry. Oh, and you love Battlestar Gallactica and vegan cupcakes. You feel the pressure to “just do one thing” in order to seem more “professional”…but it's starting to wear you down. While you want to  bring your unique you-ness into your business, you struggle with knowing what you want to make part of your public persona. (This is the thing I have the hardest time with.)
  3. You are known for making and selling one thing…but it feels limiting. You want to introduce a new product or line, but you're not sure how it fits in the other stuff you've been doing.

Do you recognize yourself in one of these?

(or maybe all three?)

The good news: it's normal.
As your business grows, you grow. As a maker, your creativity wants new-ness and excitement, and after a while, doing and making just one thing gets boring (and stifling). Feeling the chafe of wanting to be more than what you have been, to bring more of yourself into your business is a sign that you're that building a more sustainable business.

It's worth the initial struggle. When you create different streams of income, you've got a stronger business. When you're more you, you find new customers. When you try new things, your creativity is reinvigorated.  Both Kim and I have stories of resisting and then, finally, embracing our multitidues and finding  greater success, greater connection, more fulfilling work.

So where do you start? If you recognize yourself in one of the scenarios above…what do you do next?

It's a process.

It takes time to first just get comfortable, and then to get strategic about how to resolve it.
In my experience, the process can be something like:

1. Identify the multitudes.
Go through the above three scenarios and list out all the ways this is true for you.

2. Find something to start with.
Take a look at your list and notice: which one wants to be shared? Which part of you feels stifled right now?

3. Experiment.
Try incorporating just a smidge more of you in your next blog post, newsletter or even product description. And then take note, what happens? For real scientific proof (especially useful if this feels scary), conduct a real experiment.

What are your multitudes? What do you want to experiment with?

 

 

Kim and I are sharing real-world strategies for broadening your business by embracing your multitudes in tomorrow's workshop. We'll cover hire-me pages, juggling multiple income streams and managing multiple projects (we'll cover scenario #2 + #3.) If you're struggling with the “too many hats” problem, we create personalized solutions each week, inside the Starship.

The Best + Worst advice for your business

Today Kim wrote about some of the worst advice she ever got, and it shocked me, because it's strikingly similar to what I considered to be some of the best advice I ever got.

A business advisor told me: Become an expert, and then share that expertise.

This is when I was only dreaming about making yarn full time, and I took her advice immediately to heart. I knew that what would matter to my yarn-buying customers is my expertise about eco-friendly yarn sources. So I started researching, writing, and just generally sharing what I was learning. And that landed me in my first magazine and my photos in a eco-focused knitting book, which gave me the confidence to pitch my first paid writing gig. And all that strengthened my business to the point where I could quit my dayjob and make yarn full-time. When I started getting questions about how I quit my dayjob, I realized people saw me as an expert in that, so I did lots more research (I was already obsessively reading every business book published in the last 3 decades) and started share that. Three years, and conversations with hundreds of creative businesses later, I wrote a book.

 

So, for me, this was great advice.

It gave me focus. It gave me a goal. And it gave me an effective content marketing plan (I always knew what to write about and what oppurtunities to pursue).
New fibery goodies

But a funny (unintended) thing happened.

I focused so tight, I narrowed myself. I put so much work into exploring my One Thing, that I cut off other things. I assumed that yarn people (or, business people) only wanted to hear about the one thing…so I filtered everything through that One Thing…to the death of the wholeness, of my complicated-ness.

It's that steely focus that made me SO terrified to start writing and talking about business, even when I really wanted to. It's that cold pragmatism that makes me so shy to share my utter geekiness. And it's that unyielding narrowness that made it hard, and yet so so necessary to write about the you-ness in your business.

I'm just starting to break free from self-imposed exile, and in doing so, I'm seeing that this isn't based on good business sense, it's fear. Fear to be myself, even among the people who love me best. Fear of boring you, annoying you, or just being misunderstood.

dogwood on bobbin

But I know I'm not alone in this. Every month I have a conversation with a crafter that says “I've really been thinking about doing x…but is that too far out there? Too unexpected?” The designer that wants to build software. Or the writer who wants to do puppetry videos.

I'm still figuring this out, but Kim is one of my heroes. She built an enviable career around crochet and editing, and then chucked it. And yet, her worst fears didn't come true. She still thrived. She still worked. She still got to pursue her passions.
And I look at other heroes, the artist who brings her fangirl-ness into her work. And I look at my own history. I thought, when I started talking about business to my yarn customers, that they would be bored…but I couldn't ignore my enthusiasm and followed it into a whole new career that I adore.

And you're not alone either.
If you're nodding along, if you've got passions, interests and just ideas that don't fit in with what you're doing now, let's talk about that! Join me + Kim next Tuesday (just one week!) while we discuss all this. We'll talk about how to build a business that can contain your multitudes, and how to handle all the sticky situations that come up (talking to your uncle at Christmas, or introducing something new to your customers). We've got adivce, stories, and answers and ideas for your specific situation. Join us right here.