Things I Learned Growing My Business - Surprisingly, when I sat down to draft up this blog post, the three things that stood out to me are not what I expected to write about here today. As I look back on the last five years, my greatest leaps came from the following three lessons. This is where I’ve grown the most, not just in my business but as a person and entrepreneur. From painting on my dining room table with my daughter’s school paint set, to painting for family and friends, to today, working with large brands and retailers in Canada, wholesalers, private commissions, curating exhibits and mentoring fellow artists, all of these opportunities are thanks to these three lessons. I’m sharing them with you today because I believe they move mountains when it comes to business growth!
No.01 | Learn To Ask For Help.
Growing up, I was taught, “if you want something done right, do it yourself”. For the first few years, I felt that the best way to get something done the way I wanted it done was just to do it myself. I believed that the time to teach someone else wasn’t worth the outcome or it would take too long, and so I would try to take on as much as I could in order to just get things done faster. Oh, how wrong I was! I’ve learned that in business, the complete opposite is true. And for a few reasons.
- By asking for help, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of seeing something in a different light or perspective. Another person’s view is really a bonus to getting their help. Often times, the way we see things can be limiting, and by growing you survey group, you’re expanding the way your business or work is perceived.
- You give yourself the opportunity to do other things. As the owner, there are tasks that only you can do. Business decisions, planning, growth projections, future aspirations – boss stuff, right? Find staff you trust and admire and allow others to take on tasks with some guidance, but then let them create and invent their own way. As a result, your energy will be focused on the big decisions shaping the future of your business, while your team take on work in their own unique and diverse way that result in a multi-faceted, open flowing business.
- The time you invest in teaching someone else to do various tasks in your business is also time you’re investing in analysis, communication, review and critical thinking. In the past, I’ve discovered a few things when onboarding team members. Firstly, if I’m not able to clearly communicate the idea behind a new product, or how to find it, buy it, whatever it may be, then perhaps my potential customers are equally confused. You’ll find inconsistencies, mistakes, typos, broken links, etc., when you take a look at your work in this way. At the same time, you’re fine-tuning your communication skills, and learning how to pitch products. Give yourself and your team time to review together, ask questions, get their feedback and make changes to enhance your platforms. As your team members start to work on these various tasks, they’ll come to you with their concerns and you’ll be able to fine-tune and improve.
The mistake I made was that I didn't establish these questions and answers at the beginning. And so when the challenges came, my foundation was rooted in stubbornness instead of flexibility.
No.02 | Be Open To Change, Allow Yourself to Pivot.
If you're not well equipped to accept and shift when you start trying different things in your business, you will start to question that spirit that led you to this point. It happened to me. I hit a point where I had fallen so deeply in love with what I was doing that I refused to believe when it wasn't actually working. Or if it wasn't working, it meant that I had made a huge mistake and should just abandon the entire thing. It was hard for me to pivot; to shift when something had failed, to learn from my mistakes and to make the necessary changes. It had become too personal. But, here's the mindset shift.
Instead of saying, "I love what I do so much that I refuse to stop, no matter what, until I succeed", try:
"My love and passion for my craft is so strong that I'm willing to learn, adapt and pivot so that I can finally achieve a balanced, successful space doing what I love".
But what is an entrepreneur, really? I could paint, but then what? Then came the struggle! Questions like:
"My paintings are really nice, why aren't they selling?"
"Is it my product or my customer?"
And then, bigger questions like:
"When do I know something isn’t and need to pivot?"
"How do I learn from this failing?"
"What is working, and what isn’t – what do I let go of to succeed?"
My lesson in learning to adapt and change when things weren’t working, without throwing in the towel came from this experience. The mistake I made was that I didn't establish these questions and answers at the beginning. And so when the challenges came, my foundation was rooted in stubbornness instead of flexibility.
No.03 | Say Yes First.
There’s a catch through, right? Yes!. When you’re starting out, take on every project, request, order, commission. Be the person that says yes, when everyone else is saying no. Why? Because you’ll learn and explore new avenues that you might not otherwise. You’ll also know what you like or don’t like. This early exploration will help you fine tune your craft and really hone in on what you truly love and want to do.
Additionally, your customer service will far exceed people’s expectations. Be available, responsive, flexible and accommodating. Your clients will thank you with positive reviews, referrals and recommendations. Your business will grow in the best way, organically and through word of mouth.
But saying yes can’t last forever. You’ll burn out, my friend! Once you’ve established yourself, and really narrowed down on what you want to provide others, you’ll gift yourself the chance to start saying no. You’ll have the confidence and the brand recognition to define some parameters and be a little choosier. And you’ll have the self-assurance to niche yourself a little more.
When I committed and started to believe in what I was doing in a very deliberate way, that is when my business started to grow. I want to credit Amy Porterfield here because she delivered her coaching in a way that led me to have this empowering 'a-ha moment'. I recommend you check out her podcast, Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield. Her message is so powerful and so simple. Her delivery is so inspiring. You'll feel energized and empowered to succeed.
Another resource I want to recommend here is one of my favourite books, Book: How to Win Friends + Influence People by Dave Carnegie. I never felt so understood and empowered as when I read this book. Intuitively, I had been doing this for a very long time but the way Dave explains these simple and smart tactics that ultimately lead to a better and happier society. I think of this book as a guide for introverts - the people on the sidelines that struggle with coming out of their shells but are intuitively good with others and need a little guidance.
The other resource that I found immensely helpful is The Studio Source. This membership based artist-focused coaching group really changed my process in a very practical and honest way. They truly allowed me to shift into a business mindset rather than that of a hobby. If you're curious, check them out here at The Studio Source.
If you're new here, I'm Donata Delano. I am the creative owner and artist behind Donata Delano Art. As for my business, as some of you know, I run my art studio out of our home. I have a dedicated room where I paint, package and ship all my artwork to you. If you're curious about my daily life and how I run my business, I post often about my process, my studio and my work on my instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/donatadelanoart/
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