Today my guest blog post is from favoured, loyal and long-term client Sam Dounis. We are both Creators. We both write. And the longer we work together and the better we know one another, the more richly rewarding our business relationship becomes. Here’s Sam, in her own delicious words, as she talks about Banishing the Shoulds.
One of the joys of running your own business is that you get to call the shots when it comes to how it’s run. I say ‘joy’, but actually, at the beginning, especially if you’ve been institutionalised in a large corporate organisation, it can be pretty daunting. Luckily for me I’ve had coach/mentor Judith Morgan, author of new book My Biz My Way, to help me figure out what my way looks like.
When Judith invited me to write this post in honour of her book, I wasn’t sure whether to do it or not, because I don’t consider the way I run my business to be particularly ground-breaking. But maybe that’s the point. Because I think what Judith’s trying to show with these blog posts is that there isn’t one right or wrong way to run a business, but there is your way, and not-your-way. And if you’re doing it your way, then that’s perfect, but if you’re doing it not-your-way, then maybe you need to make some changes. Especially if you want it to be your business, rather than a job fulfilling other people’s expectations that you’ve created for yourself.
I expect that there are some people who’ve found it easy to find their way, but I haven’t been one of those people. I grew up career-wise in a large financial organisation, where I eventually learned to do it their way. There was no room for my way and I often felt out of place. I was too happy, too positive, too free-thinking, too creative. In fact, one of my bosses looked at the results of a personality profile I’d taken and burst out laughing. “What are you doing here?” she cried. That helped.
For a long time after I became self-employed I was haunted by the Shoulds, the things that other people did that surely I should do too. I heard about these shoulds from well-meaning coaches, business books, and what I knew of the business world from my career so far. But bit by bit I’ve banished the shoulds. For example, I no longer pay ridiculous amounts of money for an office space, and I’ve stopped turning up to networking events wearing a dress and jacket. Instead I work from my home office or a friendly cafe, and I turn up to networking events wearing whatever I feel comfortable in.
One of the things I love about running my own business is that I have the freedom and flexibility to do what I want, with both my business and my time. Last week, for example, a friend was telling me about her experience with hiring a coach. It gave me the idea to introduce low-cost introductory sessions into my business model, and within half an hour I had created two kinds of Sample Sessions appointments in my online diary, and added the service to my website’s Work With Me Page.
The time-freedom is something that has enhanced not just my life, but my family’s life too. Because of it we were able to get Kimber, which has immeasurably changed our lives for the better. And I love that I can fit work around her walks, and anything else that pops up. My time-freedom means less stress for everyone, because I can be in for deliveries, do the food shop when it’s quiet, and catch up with the household chores at lunchtime. It also means I can visit my parents during the week, attend my novel-writing class on Wednesdays, and when my friend had cancer I was able to write off whole afternoons for lunch with her and our pups.
While the freedom and flexibility has been an important part of running my own business, the best bit about finding my way is that I get to incorporate and live my values every single day. I no longer have to represent the values of my boss, their boss, and the organisation. I get to be true to me. So I have fun in my business: I involve Kimber all over the place, I share the stories of my silly cartoon sheep, and I’m relaxed and friendly with my clients, injecting humour where appropriate. I use my talents and strengths every single day, whether I’m working on or writing for my business, writing for someone else’s, or helping someone blog for themselves. And I get to be truly myself: happy, positive, smart, creative, big picture thinker, imaginative; and to practice high levels of integrity.
One think I’m still figuring out is marketing. I try to run my marketing according to how I’ve felt when experiencing other people’s. So for example, I don’t use scarcity as a tactic. I don’t scare you with a ‘buy now because it’ll be more expensive tomorrow’ message, because I’ve bought some pretty expensive courses and software due to these tactics, and then felt sick about it. And I don’t want anyone to feel sick about working with me! And if I say that there’s only one spot left, it’s because there’s only one spot left. For example, with my Write And Review service, there are only six slots available at any one time, because that’s genuinely the maximum number of people I can work with that way, while maintaining a level of service I’m happy with. And that might reduce if I decide to take on more ghost blogging clients. Which reminds me, another benefit of running my business my way, is that I get to choose who I work with.
By figuring out how to run my business my way, I find that I no longer see my work as providing a means to live. Instead it’s an integral part of a truly lovely life: it enriches it. Finding my way hasn’t happened overnight, and I’m sure that there will be more iterations in the future, but I’m really happy with how far I’ve come from all the shoulds; and Judith’s guidance and no-nonsense approach has played a big hand in that.
Read Sam’s article in full as she intended it HERE at her own website and scope out her Facebook Page too, give her a Like and say you found her via my Blogfest. She’ll welcome you either way. She’s like that.
I remember the day we first met. You came all the way to my home in London to play Cashflow 101, Rich Dad’s game, with me as part of your membership of Club 100. And the first thing you did was to say hello and go out into the garden alone to have some me-time. Those days used to be quite stressy for me before I realised that everyone is different and we all react to meeting new people in different ways. Now, I would do that too, it’s very Creator-y, isn’t it? But then I didn’t know you and I was a bit freaked. But it was all OK, of course, it was.
That was in 2013. What’s that expression the ad people used to sell cigarettes to young women? “You’ve come a long way, Baby!” Yuk in the cigarette context, but what I appreciate about you and your journey is that you are measured. Sure, at times, you’ve felt lost and like you were going the long way around perhaps, but today I would say it was 100% worth it, wouldn’t you? The scenic route, the road less travelled and all the more rewarding for both of those factors. Well done for being a tortoise, not a hare. Great choice!
Your blog post perfectly describes what it takes, what we all go through in our own way. It can’t be rushed. In my opinion, we shouldn’t even try. And you demonstrate precisely why that is.
I love working with you for so many different reasons, values I should say. Loyal, reliable, flexible, you always show up even when you don’t want to (I think we are past that stage now), we have a laugh, but we do the work and you are brave enough for me to hold up the mirror which, as I describe in my book, is tough love and the hardest job I ever have to do as a coach. Fortunately, I don’t have to do it all that often and if I get it wrong or interrupt you once too often or what I offer isn’t right for you, you let me know in the same way.
You are intelligent and adaptable and now you are a confident business owner doing what you love, with Kimber under your desk and your teapot on top of it. As Barbara Winter said of me recently, you could be the poster girl for my coaching groups and my book. It isn’t overnight, but it is so worth it. You’ve invested in you, and you have been richly rewarded and I get the sense your ROI (remember, from the Cashflow game?) only just starting. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of your dividends stack up.
Big Love to you, always. Thanks for being Blogfester #42.