Have you ever seen a client, family member, or friend make heavy weather out of something and wonder why on earth they’re making things so darn complicated? I mean, from where you’re sitting, things look pretty straightforward!
Now, let me ask you this. Have you been that person?
I know I have!
For me, making things more complicated than they need to be manifests in a few ways. It often presents as a sense of urgency (entirely of my own making, I might add). Other times, the underlying cause is imposter syndrome and/or perfectionism. Or how about this fan-favorite: filling in the gaps about what someone might be thinking or feeling into the worst story ever (which is usually totally off-base)?
Can you relate?
However it shows up, the outcome is usually the same; creating unnecessary pressure, adding extra steps, or expending emotional energy where it simply isn’t necessary.
And it’s not just me. As a business coach for creative entrepreneurs, ADHD life coach, and business owner since 2006, I can state with 100% confidence that none of us are immune to this tendency. The result: we have fewer resources of energy, time, and patience available for the work that matters.
In my experience, the 5 most common reasons are:
- Listening to too many people instead of trusting yourself
- Lack of clear mission and vision
- Leaky boundaries
- Not knowing or owning your value
- Lack of process in your business
Of course, knowing something is completely different from changing something for the better, so let’s shift gears into 5 actionable ways to get out of your own way and put the focus back on building a fulfilling and profitable creative business.
Challenge #1: Listening to too many people and not trusting yourself
One of the things I LOVE about my clients is their appetite for professional and personal development. They attend all the webinars, read books, and listen to the business “gurus” and influencers. While access to a wide range of knowledge and tools is fantastic, it can result in feeling overwhelmed and actually taking less action. There’s also the danger of building a version of the aforementioned gurus’ or influencer’s business rather than the right business for you.
What you can do about it:
Recognize the difference between taking in information and actually doing the work. Attending a webinar or reading a book might introduce you to something new, maybe even provide you with some actionable next steps, but it can only deliver so much. One of my coaching clients and I recently discovered we both had to take a break from Brené Brown’s podcast because we bought every book from every guest she interviewed 😂. There’s only SO much time in the day people! More information doesn’t always equal more progress.
If this sounds familiar, I recommend you audit:
- The books you’ve bought
- The online courses you’ve purchased
- The online groups you’re a part of (paid and free)
- The free guides and checklists you’ve downloaded
- Your podcast feed
Now, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much of this information will I actually implement?
- What are the obstacles to that implementation?
- Where do I need additional clarity and does that involve more information or something else?
- What support do I need?
The answer to those questions will give you the information for your next right step.
Challenge #2: Lack of clear mission and vision
If we don’t know what we building or where it’s going, everything else becomes complicated very quickly – from who your target client is, to how you market to them, and the services you provide. The result – you’re always reacting to whatever comes your way, rather than proactively making decisions about what’s best for you and your business.
What you can do about it:
Let me preface this by saying this is not a one-and-done exercise and may very well be the work of your life! (no biggie, right?). Wherever you are, start there. If you’re up for a few questions to kick things off, try these on for size:
- What do you feel motivated/inspired by or mad as heck about? In short, what do you want to DO something about?
- What would you do or talk about all day for free?
- What’s a fun fact most people don’t know about you?
- Fill in the gap: The world would be a better place if______
- Who are your people?
- Who do you admire and why?
- What ideas or things are so great you wish you’d thought of them?
Challenge #3: Leaky boundaries
We all know we need better boundaries, but what does that actually mean? I’m glad you asked and I wrote a whole post about it here.
What to do about it:
Read the post and pick ONE way you’ll establish and implement a boundary in your business.
Challenge #4: Not knowing or owning your value
Are you charging based on time VS the value you deliver? If so, don’t feel bad, most of your creative peers are doing the same. Here’s why: charging based on value is a really hard thing to figure out. It’s SO much easier to quote a reasonable-sounding hourly rate for your level of seniority. The problem is, pricing based on your time ensures your clients see you as a commodity, and will always be looking for the cheapest, fastest option.
What to do about it:
As a business coach on a mission to dispel the “broke creative” myth, you’d better believe I’ve written an article or 10 on this topic. If you’re ready to ditch the hourly rate, but don’t know where to start, check out this post and prepare to shift your mindset about pricing and value!
Challenge #5 Lack of process in your business
One of my favorite quotes is from the author of Finance for the People, Paco De Leon. Paco says that “making money is just a bunch of processes”.
Isn’t that awesome?
Here’s the thing, whether you know it, your business is made up of a bunch of systems. Where the rubber meets the road is how intentional those systems are, how well they work with the other systems, and how they all serve you and your business.
If this makes sense, but you have no idea where to start, pick an area where are you constantly winging, reinventing the wheel, or just generally feeling stressed out about. For example, maybe your sales and onboarding process (including writing dreaded proposals) is your bottleneck. Maybe it’s your workflows and client management process that slow your roll and steal your joy. Pick your poison.
What to do about it:
- Identify one area of your business that you want to streamline.
- Visualize the process from beginning to end and write down all the steps. Look at each of the steps and ask yourself:
- What steps could be removed?
- What steps could be consolidated?
- What steps might benefit from a template?
- What step could be performed by someone else?
- Is there a tool or software that could automate this process?
Once you start looking at your business in this objective way, removing steps, friction, or complication feels proactive, even fun.
My hope is that after reading this post you’re feeling (a) better about being a messy human (b) clearer about where you tend to make things more complicated (c ) empowered to make some changes that will ease those friction points and free you up to get back to doing what you do best – providing incredible creative solutions and building your profitable creative business.
If you got value from this post and are interested in deeper industry-specific coaching and accountability, let’s chat. Click here to share a bit more about yourself and we’ll get this ball rolling!