I Knew I Was In Business When ….

artfulbizcon 2016

 

You know, the actual fact is that I never really had a moment of “I knew I was in business when…” (but I’m totally heading off to THE best women’s business conference in Australia in only two weeks because I am ABSOLUTELY doing the biz thing now!)

It’s been a long journey.

I suffered through a lot of half-hearted attempts on the way. After finishing my Jewellery & Silversmithing degree at uni, I’d tried lots of different things – selling my jewellery (of course), although finding a workshop to work from that didn’t cost too much (or, let’s be honest – didn’t cost anything) was really hard and I didn’t have the persistence required to make that hard thing happen. I got my dad to help me make a small bench, set it up in the shed and got bits and pieces made, but then shipping work around the countryside on a consignment basis was not only expensive, but also disheartening when things got sent back because they didn’t sell (consignment for small handmade businesses sucks I reckon; don’t do it people. Or, be prepared to have lots of work out in lots of shops. And wait.). In the mean time, I’d got a nice safe office job (ewww) to pay the rent, and started to think about other opportunities.

Then, I was offered a PhD candidature with scholarship, so I did that (who wouldn’t, if someone’s paying you to do something you love). I rolled over into training as a high school teacher, which I did for several years, and then had some babies, all the while making things on the side in fits and starts (think, random, scattered, not much).

With babies, the opportunities to make jewellery diminished (they don’t make a good combo with acid, fire, and sharp things). I picked up my sewing machine again. I set up an Etsy shop in the middle of 2009 to the sound of … crickets …. and nearly fell off my chair when something actually sold, several months later.

Let me just say that none of these experiences were in any way encouraging to me. Because I discovered that business is HARD. And you have to be committed and passionate (because that’s what will sustain you when the going gets tough). But I persisted, because I always knew that there was something more that I was supposed to do with my life.

I think I’ve got an inkling of what it is I’m supposed to do now. I’m working on it. I’m building it. The money’s starting to flow.
So here’s my best advice.

You have to have a plan. None of this “chuck a few things out into the world and let’s see what happens” attitude (which is totally what I did. To real life shops, and on the web. Just because you’ve got half a dozen things in two shops does not make for a sustainable business. Just because it’s out in internetland does NOT mean that anyone’s going to see it. You have to tell them about it, duh.) I mean a specific, actionable, PLAN. Where are you planning to be with your business in 1 years’ time? 5 years’ time? Specifically, how much money will you be earning? Be realistic (you’re not going to be earning a million bucks this time next year). What have you got to sell, and how many of those things do you have to sell to reach your income target? How are you going to let everyone know about it? And there’s only so much spruiking you can do yourself – how are you going to get other people (delighted customers and the like) to tell everyone about you?

Surround yourself with people on the same journey as you. Organise a coffee morning with a couple of other like-minded souls, and talk business. Get specific. Bounce business ideas around with them. Talk about what you think is holding you back, and figure out options to move you forward. Show them what you’ve made or written – whatever product it is you’re thinking of putting out in the world – and ask for constructive criticism. Remember you’re not alone; if you’ve got a great brainstrust around you, they’ve always got your back. Keep your eyes and your mind open. Learn, adapt. Invest time in your business. Be critical about how you invest money in your business – you don’t need every coaching course under the sun, nor every app with bells and whistles. Keep your eye on your goal. Filter everything you see through that goal and don’t get distracted by shiny objects. Build your business step by step.

 

Most of all, keep going. Because amazing things are about to happen.

 

I know. I kept going. Finally, it’s working for me. I’m in business.

Julie x

Who am I really? On opposites and self-doubt

daisies1 - avi

 

I’m about to get personal. Inspired so much, in so many ways by the wonderful Karen Gunton, I shared these words in a facebook group yesterday. The response was… beautiful.

I’d like to share it again, because I think it’s important. It’s about what it feels like to live with self-doubt.

 

My life trajectory is pretty zig-zaggy and crooked. I’ve worked in data entry, hospitality, office management, trained as a jeweller, an art teacher, a maths teacher, I’m a mother of three, and a farmer. All of these things have helped make me who I am, but none of them defines me.

It’s how I respond to what’s inside me that has pushed me in these multiple directions. I remember reading somewhere, that whatever quality you like in someone, there’s an opposite way of looking at it. So sometimes I perceive those traits as strengths, and sometimes I use them to beat myself up.

 

I’m an independent spirit. Sometimes I hate responsibility and go out of my way to avoid it.
I’m a teacher. Sometimes I can be bossy.
I’m a dreamer. Sometimes I never get out and actually do anything real.
I’m a lover of detail. Sometimes I forget the big picture.
I’m a listener. Sometimes I don’t speak up when I really should.
I’m adaptable. Sometimes I need to stop blowing in the wind.
I’m a helper and a facilitator. Sometimes I should put myself front and centre.

 

Most days, I feel complicated.

 

But deep down inside, I know that if I keep going I’ll get somewhere.
Keep putting yourself out there. Take one step at a time, even if it’s sideways.
(I think I wrote this for me.)

 

Karen’s response, as ever, was beautiful, gracious, and uplifting.
” it’s not even a sideways step, it’s a spiral! it feels sometimes like you aren’t getting anywhere (you see the same scenery pass by again and again with each pass) but you ARE. you are getting closer to you, closer to the top, closer to your light.”

 

Thank you (again), Karen.

 

 

With love, J x

My wrap-up of the 2015 Artful Business Conference

Artful Business Conference
2015 artful business conference

All of us at ArtfulBizCon 2015!! (photo from Matt Clark Photo)

 

OH. MY. Seriously my head is still spinning from this wonderful, amazing, warm-hearted, beautiful, sharing conference. It was inspiring, it was practical.  It was mind-bending and down-to-earth.

I think it was even life-changing (but I’ll let you know for sure in a year or so).

Karen Gunton (The Lighthouse Revolution) spoke about the need to resonate with what you do. Make it a mission. Call it a revolution. Your purpose is a crusade, an evolution, a voyage, a legacy. To not feel like you have to change the world, but to know you can change the world for one person. To ask yourself, “Who am I NOT to share my passion, my why, what I have to offer?” I felt sure she said that just for me.

Lynda Rennick (Homelea Lass) spoke on living with chronic illness. About life teaching you what you need to know – and being open enough that you listen to its lessons. To live your life with gratitude, to go gently, and to create daily. To write yourself a love letter. About becoming more self-aware, and realising that when you fall into a rut and old habits, you can get yourself out again.

Kym Seletto (the original Rad Bitch) spoke about her journey from being an art school drop-out dealing with anxiety and depression, to realising that self-care is an enormously important thing and being a life coach, teaching others to put themselves front and centre. How to set boundaries in your life and stick to them so that you don’t get burnt out.
And she was fun. She made us all eat frogs. Truly.

Sonia Lyne (Dandelyne Embroidery) talked about her journey from making tiny embroideries to sell, to making kits that are selling worldwide. About her business ups and downs – being confronted by ‘haters’, being told she was ‘lucky’ (it’s hard work), dealing with copiers, dealing with stress. About listening to  what the customers are asking about and using that to change and grow her business. About using your problems to become your solutions. And SHARING. Always sharing. About the need to make yourself happy. About struggling with growing up in a family that always reinforced the idea to “Do things that make other people happy”. But realising that when we do things that make US happy, the happiness flows out of us to others anyway.

Nicky McKay, a web designer and branding expert, brought home the idea of how vitally important it is to brand properly, by telling us the story of her search for the perfect wedding dress. And how the reality of a messy, crowded shop not matching with their slick website left a bad taste in her mouth. And how messy websites made her simply click away. Whatever you do in your brand, be authentic; be consistent.

Sylvia Chierchia (Beautiful Money) got down and dirty with the practicalities of dealing with money. How to get clear on your financial situation, how to sort out your money purpose, what systems to have in place, and to always work with a mindset of abundance, because this is such a powerful thing.

Tash Corbin spoke on the New Feminine Dynamic of Business.  It’s all about connection – discussions, groups, support, showing your vulnerability, responding, inviting questions, caring, and knowing people. Women are so very good at connecting; we can use these skills to get to know our customers better. That’s great for the bottom line.

 

And Elle? Elle Roberts is the bee’s knees.

 

So yes, I laughed and I cried. I had tears (of overwhelm, in a good way!). I spoke to (and hugged) all of the speakers. I spoke to nearly everyone in the room, and ate the incredibly delicious food. I met heaps of my online friends, and make some new connections. I learnt a LOT about myself.

It was terrific. I’ve already booked my ticket for 2016 (you can too, I’d LOVE to see you there! Here {and yes that’s an affiliate link but if you book through me you get bonuses including 1hr 1:1 brand coaching with me!! Get in touch for full deets. Also, early bird saving $90 runs out on 29th Feb, 2016}).

And you can STILL get a recording of this year’s event too – a Silver Pass gets you LiveStream Access and a USB recording of all the speakers and all the workshops! Get it here.

 

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If you were at the conference, either virtual or in the room with me, leave me a comment telling what was YOUR biggest takeaway. If you weren’t, let me know why you’d like to go, and what/who you’d like to see!

Big love always, Julie X

Sometimes I feel like a frightened rabbit : Facing up to 2015

I’ve just returned from my annual holidays at the beach a few days ago. While I do celebrate the new year on 1st January along with the majority of people in the western world, January itself is always a month of hiatus for me, a time of family comings and goings and several weeks of camping on the coast.

I’ve spent the time thinking and not thinking, reading and dreaming. I’ve swum in the ocean with the kids, watched the dolphins, gone on a few walks through the bush and taken a few photographs.

I did poke my nose into my emails occasionally, and I also followed along on Create & Thrive’s 30 Questions during January. The 30 questions were a great bunch of ideas you should seriously ask yourself about your biz – some broad, some quite specific, and all of them thought-provoking – with the aim of giving you insights into yourself AND your biz. It was Day 4’s question that grabbed me early on, and has kept me deep in thought over the last few weeks.

 

“What is one word that sums up your plans for your business in 2015?”

 

I thought very long and hard about this one, because it’s THIS word that has the power to lift you when you’re flat, to push you when you don’t feel like it. Dig below the business plans, and this one word is perhaps not just about your business; but more importantly, it’s about YOU.

For too many years, for too many reasons, I’ve procrastinated on opportunities big and small until they fell off the edge of my desk. Getting stuck doing “busy” work, checking and rechecking things that were not actually moving me any direction except sideways (stats, I’m looking at YOU). Trying to write stuff, but it’s hard and then getting sidetracked, and making a(nother) cup of tea. Social media (because heck, it’s fun). Check the cupboard for a snack. Write another half dozen words and I’m stuck again. Make a(nother) cup of tea. And after all this complaining loudly that “Woe is me! There’s never enough time to do everything!”

I’ve come to the realisation that I’m not really afraid of the hard work, it’s just that I’m afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I feel like a frightened rabbit.

 

papier mache mask by MiesmesaBerni on Etsy

papier mache mask by MiesmesaBerni on Etsy

{rabbit mask here}

 

So February is the beginning of my new year.  And it’s time for my new word.

 

 

UNAFRAID.

 

 

Let my new word be my guide this year. Are you ready for 2015? I am!

Now, what’s your word?