What all these things have in common is…well, something’s missing.
The magic of the holidays isn’t just about the tangible things: the tree, the gifts, or the foods. What makes the holidays so magical is what goes on behind the scenes. The details and intention.
…The twinkle of lights intentionally woven through the branches that make the house glow so beautifully you keep them up past Valentine’s Day!
… the anticipation and mystery of what’s inside the carefully wrapped box (shhh… I won’t tell if you give it a good shake)
…the fantasy that’s been passed on from generation to generation of reindeer flying through the night sky to enjoy the tasty snacks you leave on the coffee table.
For our family, what makes the season so magical is my husband’s eagerness to decorate. He can’t help himself: the second Halloween passes, he is down in the basement (AKA the “Christmas Closet”) bringing up our trees — yes, plural — and countless boxes of ornaments. My husband loves sharing the joy of the holiday season with our kids.
But it is even more magical because of the love, care, and genuine enthusiasm he feels about the process. He finds joy in the details. I’ve never witnessed someone so patient with untangling lights or setting up his intricate, Clarke Griswold-esque display on the front lawn! Honestly, I believe he enjoys the preparation as much as — if not more than — Christmas Day itself!
As parents, we’re kind of like the self-appointed “COOs of Christmas” in our household (if you have kids, you get it!). We do all of the things behind the scenes to make the season feel magical, joyful, and awe-inspiring. And while all the preparation could become daunting, overwhelming, or tedious, we do it in a way that we LOVE and look forward to each and every year.
Now, I get it. Most people aren’t as “Energizer Bunny” ready for holiday prep as my husband… but you can channel some of his Christmas joy. Let it inspire how you build a creative business that lights you up like Christmas morning.
I fully believe that you can create a business that makes you feel wonder and awe. A business that you can’t stop dreaming about when you go to sleep at night. A business you spring out of bed for each and every morning because you just can’t wait to take on the day.
Running a creative business takes effort, but when you feel aligned and fulfilled by your work you discover the joy in the process. When you build a creative business that lights you up, you create a magical experience for yourself, your clients, and your team members.
In this blog, I hope to inspire you to weave a bit of magic into all aspects of your business. We’ll explore how you can align your vision to Core Values, develop systems and automations that work like MAGIC behind the scenes (picture: Mrs. Weasley’s kitchen in Harry Potter), and create a magical experience for yourself, your clients, and your team members. These aligned actions will fuel your dreams, hopes, and aspirations as you create a creative business you fall more and more in love with every day.
It’s the secret ingredient to any successful business!
Core values are deeply ingrained principles that guide your work. They are non-negotiables that you put into practice from day one. They can, and should, be woven into every part of your work, big or small. Your core values can shine through in your client experience, the freebies you share with your audience, and even the causes you support.
If you want to create a creative business that truly lights you up, it is essential that you connect to your core values. Once you identify what is most important to you, you’ll be able to use your core values in any decision you make for your business. It’s like your north star, a compass that helps to keep you on track and true to yourself.
It can feel challenging to define your core values as a business owner at first. People tend to throw around terms like compassion, freedom, or authenticity. That’s because values without actions are meaningless. You need to LIVE your core values if they are going to be effective.
When you define your core values, you’ll feel in alignment throughout your entire business. We can take a few notes from Jolly Old Saint Nick! His values are clear: generosity, punctuality, and dependability. He gives without asking for anything in return. Without fail, he manages to deliver gifts right on the dot, December 25th, each and every year. His values are embedded in everything he does, and it is apparent to any outsider looking in.
When you are in alignment, your values will be clear in your work as well. You’ll be able to define YOUR definition of success. This will ensure that you are spending your time on the right things and building YOUR dream, not someone else’s. You’ll feel confident as you create a business that supports the life you want instead of building your life around a business.
(((I’ve set MY business up to do all of these things, yours can and possibly should look different!)))
Core values will help you define the kind of life you want to live so you can prioritize what’s important to you (not the influencer you follow on TikTok). Core Values keep you in tune with your “why” and your definition of success. It doesn’t get more magical than that!
If you’re looking to create a sustainable business, you have to create a business that you enjoy in between the milestones. If we only celebrated on Christmas Day, we’d miss out on all the holiday movies, delicious treats, and music that makes the time leading up to the big day that much more joyous!
Yes, the milestones are exciting, and reaching goals like growing your team, hitting a certain financial target, or landing an amazing new client are magical experiences, they will not be your everyday reality.
Where the magic often gets lost in business is in the day-to-day routine. The good news is, you don’t have to suffer through waiting for the next magical moment. You can create it right here and now.
The beauty of running your own creative business is that you set the terms. You have way more control over your time, energy, and the projects you take on than you may even realize! Remember that if it isn’t fun, you have the power and authority to do something about it.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you are working, working, working, without connecting to the people and things that rejuvenate you, you’re likely on a direct flight. Destination: BURN OUT. Carve out time for family, hobbies, friends, time outside, and anything that “fills up your cup.” This will help you reconnect to your “why” and find a more well-rounded work/life balance.
Create time to care for yourself. I’m a big advocate of time blocking in your business and personal life. Block off time on your calendar regularly to hold yourself to these “self-care appointments.” They are equally as important as your professional appointments and should be treated and scheduled the same way. Remember, self-care isn’t just about bubble baths and massages (although that’s a great place to start!). Self care can also look like scheduling time with a therapist, journaling, drinking more water, organizing your space, scheduling doctors appointments, or reading a good book.
Are you feeling sucked into the daily grind and wishing you had an outlet to reinvigorate your creativity and reconnect to your professional passions? I am a fan of taking “CEO Time” and think it is ESPECIALLY important for creative entrepreneurs who have turned their passion into their profession. CEO Time is time that you carve out to focus on big-picture vision-casting and creativity ONLY. When scheduled proactively, CEO Time helps you temporarily step away from the to-do lists and client work. It allows you to tune in to passion projects or ideas you’ve been putting off! If you don’t make the time for yourself, there will always be another email, phone call, or appointment that will fill the space you haven’t reserved for your creative self.
“Swallow the frog.” As gross as that expression is (don’t blame me — credit goes to Mark Twain– it’s a common time management expression) it WORKS! Get the task(s) you are most stressed about out of the way first thing in the morning. This will help you avoid the DREAD of it (and the inevitable procrastination that comes with doing something you’re worried about). You can focus on the fun, meaningful, creative, and exciting tasks on your list AFTER you’ve taken care of the things you’ve been putting off. Plus, you never feel more accomplished than when you get that thing you’ve been dreading DONE once and for all. That happy, productive mood sets you off on the right path as you move through your day!
Get curious and explore ways to work smarter, not harder! Seek out tools like…
(psst! We dive into systems more in the next section)
The beauty of these automated systems is that once you get them in place, they work for you behind the scenes and keep you organized so that you don’t overwhelm your CEO brain!
Can I outsource this task or assign it to a team member? Maybe it’s time to explore hiring that copywriter or virtual assistant afterall? OR, is this something an existing team member could do for you? BONUS: They may even be able to do it faster AND better which gives you a great ROI–return on investment!
If I were to remove this task from my list, what would the consequences be? Is this a “would be nice” task or an “essential” task? Sometimes we create our own self-imposed deadlines. It’s important to remember if you made them up, you can also change them! They’re not binding. While there will be some deadlines that are genuinely time-sensitive, in most situations you are in control of your time and energy. If an emergency pops up, you can adjust your calendar accordingly without asking for permission or making a request through HR (remember…you are HR). When you give yourself grace you’re better able to show UP and find more ease in your business and in your life.
This doesn’t mean that things won’t be challenging or frustrating in business. But it does mean that you can notice negative patterns and make a shift. It takes time to transition from an employee mentality (unempowered) to a CEO mentality (powerful and authoritative). Don’t recreate that corporate job you hated. Don’t become the boss you despised. Rewrite the script.
I am a planner through and through. I believe in automating anything you can, putting plans in place way in advance, and defining processes for every recurring task or event in my creative business. For me, it is the magic that lets me show up as my best self for my clients, my team members, and my family.
I also preach the value of systems to my outsourced COO and 1:1 coaching clients. But many of them resist planning and putting systems in place at first. One of my clients shared that she felt like over-planning might actually be restrictive. One of her Core Values is flexibility, and for her, planning felt like it would steal her freedom to go with the flow.
But she gave it a try and was so surprised! Not only did she find she was able to stick to her planning routine, but she actually felt MORE time and energy freedom than ever before. Once she committed to planning ahead and creating proactive systems, she discovered more ease and developed a stronger sense of alignment within her business.
Take time to define how you want to work, rather than just reacting or responding. Determine how you want to do things, how you will measure your business’ progress, success, and goals. Systems may sound “practical” or “boring” but in reality, they can create true magic in your business for you, your clients, and your team members!
Systematizing any and all processes or recurring tasks in your creative business helps you and your team members work efficiently. When things are streamlined, less energy is spent on tedious tasks, and more time is spent being creative, innovative, and attentive to your clients.
Systems that work like magic can help you in so many ways. I like to think of them as my “second brain!”
You can set up automation and systems to…
If you’re looking to put sustainable systems in place to put your CEO brain at ease, here is a freebie I created. It will walk you through the 3 systems you need to run your freelance business efficiently.
Client experience is, in my opinion, EVERYTHING. Truly. Client experience is the driver behind my marketing strategy. When you create an incredible experience for your clients, you’re giving them a gift while also positioning yourself as a reliable, strategic partner they can count on.
Having systems in place can significantly improve the client experience and keeps you one step ahead on every project. It unlocks your potential to add surprise and delight to your work together. They will be impressed with your professionalism and the fact that you are able to anticipate their questions and needs.
Take the time to build connections and community with the people behind the companies you serve.
This can feel simple, but makes all the difference. One way I do this is by ALWAYS confirming a client’s name preference. I also make an effort to ask about hobbies, values, and their family life. It helps establish a deeper understanding of one another.
Your systems can help you with your client experience because they keep the process smooth and encourage easy communication. Simple things like streamlining scheduling, establishing communication platforms (email? Voxer? Slack?), using templates and workflows, and setting clear expectations early and often will make all the difference.
This is the true magic. Set realistic, appropriate expectations and then go above and beyond in your delivery! Some simple ways to go the extra mile include: sending deliverables a bit earlier than you planned, a recorded Loom video to walk them through a specific process, or throw in an additional call with you. These are all simple ways to surprise and delight your client.
When you have systems in place, you’ll expand your own personal work capacity, but you’ll also increase the capacity of your team. I always recommend that CEOs systematize and automate as much as possible before they consider hiring a new team member. Often this is a more sustainable and affordable option. It will ensure you don’t prematurely hire someone. When you DO hire, you’ll be able to choose a person who will genuinely add value to your work and move the needle forward in your creative business. It’s due diligence that makes your investment work for you while also ensuring your new hire feels fulfilled in their role.
If you already have a team, putting the right systems in place can help improve communication and provide clarity on roles and workflows. Your team will feel more confident and autonomous moving through their work.
Ultimately, creating a business that lights you up like Christmas morning will become your legacy. You set out with a purpose and vision to create success for yourself and your family while lifting others up along the way. You want your work to stand for something and be a light in the world.
When you are connected to your core values, find joy and ease in your daily work, and have systems in place to support your vision, it will feel magical. Not only because you’ll have an aligned, streamlined creative business, but because you’ll live a full life. A life where you have time and energy for the people and adventures that matter most to you. You’ll create an inspired life both in and out of your business.
Outsourcing can be daunting, but when you create an experience for your clients, you put them at ease. You instill confidence in them and provide them with time, resources, and energy that they can pour into their OWN Core Values. Plus, you’ll magically create a self-sustaining marketing team, full of happy clients who want to refer you to anyone and everyone they can!
Let your business’ magic inspire your team! Creating a creative business full of magic will help you to be the boss you’ve always wanted to be. You have the ability to help your team members grow and develop, learn new skills, and enable them to live a balanced, fulfilling life. There are countless ways to provide magic in your team members’ lives beyond just a paycheck. With intention you have the ability to impact your team’s community. This will add value to their work and their lives.
When I think of ways to instill magic in the experience we create for our team, I think of one of my previous jobs. I worked for a company that had an UNHEARD of perks for their employees (we were a SMALL team: under 16 people!). After working there for 5 years, every employee was able to take a 1-month sabbatical. This made each of us feel SO valued. You can implement your own innovative, value-packed benefits for your team. Get creative and really listen to their needs and wants (don’t guess). The sky’s the limit!
At the end of the day, the “magic” you put in place has the potential to inspire your team, improve their quality of life, increase retention, and strengthen the culture of your business.
COO Tip: Patagonia is an amazing example of this, but it can be modeled in so many different ways depending on the size and resources of the business.
The potential impact we have to inspire, support, and give back to our communities is the TRUE magic of entrepreneurship. My hope is that you feel inspired to move into the holiday season, the New Year, and beyond in a way that feels aligned so that you can share YOUR unique magic with the world.
I work with my clients to identify and practice their core values. So that they will find joy in the process by planning ahead and stepping into their entrepreneurial mindset, and setting up systems that work like magic.
I would love to support you in your journey. Reach out today to schedule your free 30-minute strategy call. We will map out a plan to create a creative business that lights you up like Christmas morning!
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