This is a sneak peak into my head for all my fellow entrepreneur friends. Many of us call ourselves creatives I think to make it feel more free and fun, but all in all, we’re running our own businesses. Every business has creative aspects, every business has selling aspects, marketing aspects, financial aspects, and I think that sometimes when we label ourselves “Creatives” we start to ignore the fact that we are running businesses…and it’s hard and intimidating and thrilling all at the same time! Not that we can’t still hold on to that creative name and the community that comes with that, but also not downplay the fact that we are professionals and we are running small businesses!
I’ve been meaning to write a blog for a while. I went to a workshop a couple of months ago that was so extremely inspiring and encouraging that I didn’t really know where to start when I got home. I went to the Sinclair & Moore master class workshop in Seattle. I was in a room with seven other incredible florists and/or event planners from around the world, and we all learned from each other and from our incredible teacher Steve. It was so intimidating to pick up a pair of clippers and make an arrangement next to such talented florists, and to talk about event design next to these incredibly creative men and women, but then the wedding day came. We designed arrangements together for a real wedding that would take place the Saturday of the workshop, and when I stepped inside the venue it just felt familiar. This was where I thrived. Talking with other vendors, guests, setting up the tables, looking to make sure all the small details were in place. It just felt right. I realized at this workshop that flowers are not my passion. I love flowers, I think they’re beautiful and bring so much life to the design of an event, and without them I don’t think a wedding would feel complete. But so many other details and pieces of the wedding are also equally important in creating a wedding that is complete. During the workshop I watched the other designers’ eyes light up when we were working with flowers, but I felt that excitement when Steve was talking to us about the event design and planning process. I have been planning weddings for years, and I now have experience now for the last couple of years in floral design. But event design, bringing it all together, just makes sense. It felt so right. And I knew, walking away from that weekend, that I can do that. It’s like it was the missing link to the direction I wanted my business to go in, and I didn’t know it until that weekend.
At the end of the workshop he asked us what one word we would use to describe the workshop. What was an overall takeaway. I learned so many things from him and the other designers that weekend, but the first word that came to mind was intentionality. I am convinced that his success is in his intentionality in his work. Being intentional with your suppliers, with your clients, with your social media, with your finances, with your brand, with your communication, with your time, and so on. For me, I feel like my business intentionality often comes in waves. I get inspired or I get busy and it either makes be do everything wonderfully with excellence or it overwhelms me and I come to a screeching halt. I think a large part of that response is connected to how much I value my work, and how much credit I give to the fact that it IS a business.
Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed (or sometimes when I feel underwhelmed), I get into a slump. I settle with lower pricing than I thought/wished I was worth, I put off keeping up with my Instagram posts or updating my website, all because I start to question how good I am at what I do. I start listening to the lies that say, “you’re not as good as her/him,” “your work isn’t as unique or beautiful,” “you haven’t booked enough events,” or “you haven’t booked the right events,” and you can fill in the space with more of these thoughts that you’ve had as well. BUT, going to this workshop did two things for me:
I started reading a book that has the cheesiest cover, and if you google it now you will laugh, but it is actually so inspiring and exactly what I needed (shout out to my brother Brandon who kept bugging me to read it and now I get why!). It’s called Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar. So first of all, I’m so sorry that Zig’s parent’s didn’t like him and named him Zig Ziglar. Second of all, if you run a small business of any sort, you should do yourself a favor and order this book on Amazon stat (just follow the link, I’m making it so simple for you).
This book gave tools and explanations on how to communicate the value of what you do or what you sell to customers, and how to NOT devalue your worth in the process of trying to make sales. It’s so easy to take things personally when it’s your own business, it doesn’t matter if it’s something you made, something you produce, or something you do, rejection just doesn’t feel good. Or the forever struggle of people wanting you to go cheaper and cheaper until in the end you feel like you’re doing them a favor, as if they were your cousin and then you think, WAIT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW YOU A WEEK AGO! Haha maybe it’s just me, but I promise it happens and it is so real. But sweet Zig helps explain the thought processes that are going on in people’s minds when you’re trying to make the sale, and how to best communicate your worth. Not swindle anyone, not lie to anyone, but how to believe in what you do through the whole process, and not let that worth be diminished through the ever challenging journey that is sales.
A couple of tangible changes I’m making for me and my business after all of this, which are very specific for wedding planning and design, but I’m changing what I offer! Effective now (because why put it off?!), I am offering month of coordination, full planning, and event design. The floral side of my work falls under event design, and I am no longer offering day of coordinating or partial planning. I realized that whenever I do "day of" I start doing month of, because I want to see it all come together well and succeed, and when I don’t then it’s a pain dealing with the things that go wrong that day because I didn’t get to step in and help with the final details. And the partial planning often turns into full planning, and it’s just not as enjoyable to be sort of planning an event. The event design is the beautiful link to bringing it all together Everything from the save the dates to the favors are beautifully paired together to reflect the couple, their journey, and their love. It’s not a hard and fast rule that those are the only things I will do, but that is the direction I’m going in! It's scary to change things, but that gut feeling that my friend calls "your little bird" that nudges you one way or the other, is pushing me in this direction! So I'm excited to see where it will lead!
My last word is specifically for my fellow creatives who are still reading. This is something I have been learning through all of this: take your work seriously. Figure out if it is a hobby, a project, or a business (I heard this at the Yellow Conference last year, which is wonderful). And if your answer to that is a business, treat it like one. Be a creative and own that, but also realize that you have something to offer that is valuable and recognize that you are running a business, which is awesome! And that other people will value your business and take you seriously if you value your work and if you take it seriously. And with that, have people in your life who also value your work and take it seriously. You need people who will say, “YES, you should do this full time because you’re that good,” and genuinely mean it. Look for people around you who challenge you, push you, and support you like crazy, and make those friendships a priority.