10 biz lessons I learned from throwing a birthday brunch

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday with brunch at our home. The brilliant idea to throw a party after way too long (thanks, Covid) occurred to me during a rare kid-free breakfast with my husband in a lively local coffee shop. Buoyed by caffeine, pastries, and the joy I’ve always felt about birthdays, I put together a guest list and had the Paperless Post sent by the end of the day.

No going back now, it was on the calendar. It’d be fun.

And it WAS fun!! Family and friends, old and new, gathered in one place having a great time. I’d forgotten how much I love throwing parties (the abundance of goodwill, flowers, and prettily wrapped gifts didn’t hurt either!).

It wasn’t until after the event, when I plopped on the couch, tired but happy, that I was able to see the huge gap between my idea of throwing a simple brunch (no biggie, I’m cool), and the reality of cooking, cleaning, sprucing, and preparing our home for 30+ guests. 

I realized that, no matter how simple the idea, if I want it to appear simple, elegant, and oh, so breezy, it’s going to require forethought, work, and lots of energy. At the very minimum, I realized I would need: 

  • A vision + clearly defined purpose (because as Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering states, you shouldn’t be a “chill host”)
  • The right mix of people
  • The right food and beverages
  • A welcoming, comfortable, beautiful environment and experience

And let’s not forget the million things I hadn’t thought of, but absolutely needed, including:

  • A trip to Home Depot to rent a steam cleaner for the couch my kids rendered too disgusting for guests to sit on
  • Potted plants because “that corner needs something
  • Hanging all the pictures that have been propped against the wall for months
  • Numerous trips to stores of all kinds for all manner of supplies
  • A new dress (just because)

Of this you can be sure: It will take more time, work, and money than you anticipated. Kind of like building and growing your creative business (see what I did there?).

As a business coach for creative freelancers and business owners, I often hear about the frustration they feel in the gap between the excitement of their bold and beautiful vision and the reality of making it happen. And I get why establishing, building, and growing a business can feel slow-going (I am a fellow business owner, after all!). We all want to see our great ideas realized in this red-hot minute. But a better question might be: why do we think building, growing, and constantly evolving a business should be faster and easier than it is?

Maybe following other business owners on social media is to blame (um, compare and despair anyone?). Or maybe our capabilities have not quite caught up with our vision (check out Ira Glass’s video “The Gap” for more on this). Or maybe it’s simply that ideas are more fun than execution. No lies there!

In the spirit of building a creative business that lives up to your vision, here are my top 10 tips for finding and maintaining momentum:

  1. Define Your Purpose.  Remind yourself of why your business exists. What does it do for others? What does it do for you? Where there is meaning, there is motivation and stick-with-it-ness. It also galvanizes other people e.g. clients, collaborators, and supporters around the work. If you’re all-in on having a clear purpose, but yours still feels a little vague, check out this post. I wrote it in the early days of the pandemic, but it still holds!
  2. Manage your resources.  We all have limited resources of Time, Energy, Attention, and Money (TEAM). As the business owner (yes, even a business of one), you get to decide where and when those resources are used. Be judicious about what deserves those resources and what will yield the biggest rewards right now. Just because so-and-so just rolled a brand spanking new website, doesn’t mean you should just yet. Want to improve your focus? Check out this post for 3 actionable ways to do just that.
  3. Find your people.  Being a freelancer or entrepreneur can be isolating at times and let’s face it: business and life are better with the right people. Having one person or a select group of trusted people to talk to will help you navigate new or challenging situations, benefit from the wisdom and expertise of others, and stay accountable for the things you say you will do. The beauty of these communities is that everyone benefits.
  4. Accept you’ll make mistakes. As an entrepreneur you’re out there on the leading edge, figuring things out as you go. Things will go sideways, you’ll make missteps, and there will be things you’ll miss you didn’t even know you should be looking out for. Forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes, and move on.
  5. Invest in professional and personal development.  Depending on your stage of business and the resources available, that investment might be getting a business book out of the library, hiring a therapist and/or coach, or attending a conference. Trust your instincts on what’s right for you and work with the resources you have.
  6. Ask for help. If you limit your business to the things you know how to do and the time you have to do them you’re going to hit a wall pretty fast. If you want to expand your business in any way, you’re going to need support. Form an accountability group, ask someone to mentor you, or hire a virtual assistant. Just ask for help!
  7. Play hooky now and then to remind yourself why you’re the boss!
  8. Trust the timing of your life. If you feel motivated to do something, it’s probably the right time. Similarly, if there’s something you feel you should do, but just can’t bring yourself to, it may not be the right time. What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.
  9. Try, try, again. Just because you tried something and it didn’t work, doesn’t mean it won’t work next time (or the time after that).
  10. Experiment. No one’s watching as closely as you think. 

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What’s your favorite tip for staying in motion and growing your creative business or career? Drop a comment below!

One thought on “10 biz lessons I learned from throwing a birthday brunch

  1. Great advice as always! I’d add, don’t be afraid to talk about money. The number of women in particular who don’t value themselves highly enough, or do the diligence to understand their true worth in the market, continues to sadden me.

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