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.
If you’d like to read how 51 other business owners are running their businesses their way, click here to go to Judith’s blog. You’ll also find her comments about this blog post there.