5 Things You Should Never Say To A Small Business Owner
We've all been there. The polite customer at the craft fair, the intrigued family friend, a colleague at your part-time job... Your Gran. They like to ask the question because they find you interesting, 'inspiring' and often 'quirky'. They have chatted with you before about what you're up to but often skirt around the subject of work. Until they don't!
This week I wanted to share some of the questions I've been asked or assumptions that have been made about me because I run a creative business, am a maker/crafter and work from home. Often it's interesting and quite useful to have a light shed on what people think to help tweak your online message, research a new market segment that could potentially benefit from your products or services. And often you just have to accept that not everyone will understand the business/life you are trying to build... and then laugh it off or call your business besty and have a moan!
I've talked on the blog and podcast previously about not relying on your nearest and dearest to be your business champions in all aspects of your work. They may well love you unconditionally... but unless they are running in similar groups/projects or career they probably won't get exactly what/how or why you do what you do. And guess what... that's totally OK because they are not your dream customer!
So here goes
1. I could make that/That's a bit expensive, isn't it?
This is an oldy but a goody and would happen a lot when I sold my designs in boutiques or ran a stall at a craft market. More often than not they'd say it to your face or just as they walked away to their friend. Ouch. This double punch combo has the power to not only undermines the hours spent creating the thing you are selling, the sourcing/designing/market research on pricing etc. But also has the power to knock your confidence down to zero in a split second... often in front of your peers. And sadly because there are so many cheap rip-offs of genuinely amazing handmade items popping up on mass-produced sites this problem continues to grow.
2. What do you do for your real job?
Until a few years back when confronted with this one I felt the need to list every qualification I have gained over the past 15 years, the most prestigious companies I've worked with and go into a long winded description of what I do in a way that oversimplified the many strands and skills it takes to create a multi-passionate career. I recently read Emma Gannon's book 'The Multi-Hyphoned Method' which had a great chapter looking into generational attitudes towards work and life, which helped bolster my answer to something more simple. And depending on who's asking... they get a side serving of energy and excitement about my current project/client or an extra eye roll and slice of F*ck you.
3. Seriously though, what do you do all day?
Where do You start with this one? Day to day this could be any combination of creative or non creative task. Email admin, content creation, client support, bead painting, social media scheduling, planning, tea drinking, list writing/ticking, panicking, skyping, snacking, packing orders the list goes on...
...(often followed by)
4. But you work from home so surely you can *do The washing/empty the dishwasher/have a nap/wait in for a delivery/speak on the phone/meet for a coffee ANY TIME RIGHT? *(delete as required)
No. I can't.
I love that running your own business means flexibility. But it also means a structure I that have created that keeps me on track with the priority work I have and want to get done... usually without freaking out. Unless I am procrastinating, in which case you can be damn sure I will do all the chores first. But not if someone else asks me to.
5. That sounds lovely I bet working for yourself is really fun/easy/creative
Working for myself is something I have done since before I graduated. And is the best decision I ever made. Yes it can be super fun. often freestyle, and mostly creative.... but it's also the hardest work I know, often uncertain, seasonal, filled with continual personal development and growth, moments of anxiety and overwhelm. It's not the easy choice. But with a community around you, peers there to call on when you need advice and marketing experts/coaches available to work with to gain support + the freedom to choose the work you love and when/how you do it... those not so shiny parts are worth it hands down!
BONUS - Why don't you just pay someone to do all that? (the things you don't like doing)
Well yes in an ideal world I would outsource the majority of work that stresses me out or that I'm not great at. And I hope to be able to in the future. But in reality that's not in my budget right now... and some things just have to be done by the boss! My business runs on my thought processes so unless I can tap a wire into my brain I'd better get back to it!
I'd love to hear the funny or down right annoying and rude things people have said to you and your business so that we can share the jokes and hopefully gain a greater understanding of where the ideas come from!
And if you are sick of all the nonsense and could really do with guidance and support to help you get your business or project back on track you can find out more about working with me here