Being a creative entrepreneur isn’t easy. As I’ve built my business and brand over the last few years, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. There is a lot of unseen work that goes into creating something of your own, and many of us (myself included) have held day jobs and managed family commitments while we work towards our dreams. I’ve pushed myself into burnout more than I’d like to admit. When that happens, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees and it can make things feel impossible. Here are a few things I’ve learned about building a brand sustainably.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I had multiple brands and about 5000 projects I wanted to create. I was so excited about the possibilities that I kept getting distracted by shiny objects and it was hard to make any real progress. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly being realistic or strategic about my goals.
More recently, I’ve refined my focus and taken a lot of potential projects off of my plate. I’ve gotten serious about prioritization am only taking on a few projects at any given time. This has allowed me to move the needle forward on the things that really bring me joy.
Ask for Support
When I look at the most transformational turning points on my brand-building journey, they have always been catalyzed by mentorship. Being an entrepreneur requires us to stretch and grow in all kinds of ways, and we can’t do it alone.
I am grateful to say that I’ve had several incredible teachers and guides throughout the process, from books, business and branding coaches, and transformational group spaces. I’ve poured significant amounts of both time and money into getting support, from free workshops to 1:1 containers and high-level masterminds – and I don’t regret a single minute (or penny!)
Get clear on your WHY
If you want to develop a purpose-driven business, you need to know what your purpose actually is. Most of us have a felt sense of our motivations and goals, yet very few of us can communicate them clearly to others, let alone weave them seamlessly into our branding, content, copy, and website. Relationships are always built on a shared sense of purpose, and articulating yours is like the bat signal that calls in your people.
If you haven’t checked out Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, “Start with Why,” I highly recommend it. Another tool I use is “7 Levels of Why” which helps to get underneath the surface and flesh out your core motivations. You might be surprised what you find! For example, underneath my motivation to help creative entrepreneurs build online businesses is a deep commitment to joy, ease and sustainability for myself and my clients. These are values that are very important to me, and these values are shared by the people who want to work with me.
Be real with yourself
It’s easy to have a lot of ideas about what we want to do, but often when we get there we realize it doesn’t actually work for us. Think about what has actually worked in the past. For example, I thought for a long time that my primary work would be teaching and facilitating in groups. When I got real with myself about what I really enjoyed, it was all about 1:1 work and solo creative practice. It doesn’t mean that group work is off of the table. It might re-emerge in another season of my life, but it is important to honor what is true for me right now.
Let it be easy
I’m not saying that everything should be a piece of cake. But when it’s too hard and there is too much resistance, it’s time to rethink the approach. For example, I’ve been banging my head against the wall when it comes to my own social media for a long time. I just don’t like it very much and it doesn’t bring me joy. I’ve decided that I will probably pay someone to tackle it for me in the future.
For now, I am focusing on creating long-form content like podcasts and blogs, building my SEO, growing my e-mail list and utilizing platforms like Pinterest over Facebook and Instagram. If you are repeatedly getting stuck on the same challenges, see if you can do something differently. Is there another way of achieving the same result? Can you ask for support? Is there a better tool? Don’t spend too much time spinning your wheels on what isn’t working, and focus on what is!
Mindset is Key
Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Still, it’s one of those things that bears repeating. We can spend years doing personal growth and mindset work and still be caught unawares when those sneaky thought gremlins come for us! I was on a call recently with a coach and mentor of mine, gabbing away about my frustrations when she said gently “I’ve noticed you’ve said the phrase ‘I can’t’ several times in the last few minutes. Are you aware of that?” It was a total AHA moment. Take time to reflect on the messages you are telling yourself about your creative work and business, and practice shifting them to reflect your true intentions.
Slow the F*** Down
I firmly believe that slowing down is one of the most powerful, consciousness shifting choices we can make in our world today. As a creative entrepreneur, it is so, so easy to get caught up in hustle culture and ride the fast track to burnout town. Can I tell you a secret? It’s all a farce. You don’t need to rush. In fact, rushing will get in the way of your progress. I’ve realized that the pressure-cooker mentality actually creates unease and misalignment in my business, which is not only an obstacle but truly antithetical to my vision of success. There are actually very few instances when rushing serves the deeper purpose of our work. You can refuse to do it, and you will be okay. When we build sustainability into our everyday practices, our business becomes sustainable over time.
What are your biggest struggles when it comes to building your brand? What key lessons have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear from you, so drop me a line and sign up for our newsletter to get more free resources and fresh perspectives for your creative brand.
© Moon Seeds Studio 2023