So you did the dang thing: put yourself out there, attracted customers, and built a creative business from scratch. Maybe it all started as a hobby or side gig, but somehow, it grew into something wayyyy different than you ever imagined.
From the outside looking in, your business may seem successful, but it’s not uncommon to find yourself stuck with a business that you don’t actually enjoy at all!
If the thought of pulling the plug or making big changes to your business feels overwhelming, trust me, you’re not alone! I’ve worked with numerous creative entrepreneurs in the same boat: the accidental business.
Stepping back and reassessing where your business is headed can seem impossible when you’re caught up in the daily hustle, feeling like you’re sprinting on a treadmill set 10 speeds too fast!
But here’s the truth:
You deserve to run a business that truly lights you up!
You don’t have to settle for the business you’ve outgrown or stumbled upon by chance. The beauty of being your own boss is that you’re in control. You can make the decisions, make changes, and redefine what success means to you, over and over again.
Not convinced just yet?
Let’s take inspiration from the one and only Madonna.
Throughout her incredible decades-long career, she constantly pushed boundaries, transformed her image, and evolved with the times. She’s living proof that being adaptable and trusting your instincts is not a weakness but a catalyst for growth, evolution, and undeniable success.
Embracing the ability to pivot can lead to unexpected triumphs and, more importantly, a business that brings you genuine fulfillment. Remember, if you’ve built a business once, you have the evidence that you can do it again because you have something to build from!
You’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience!
With this confidence in mind, I’m here to guide you through the process of transforming your creative business from something you regret into something that makes you jump out of bed with excitement every single morning. It’s time to reclaim your entrepreneurial journey and create a business that you love!
When you’re feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or unfulfilled, it can be tempting to immediately spring into “fix it” mode, throwing a million band-aids on your problems hoping to find a cure!
On the flip side, you might be so fed up that you’re tempted to throw everything away and leave your business in the dust.
But before you make any drastic moves, let’s have a real talk for a moment:
Burnout will trick you into thinking you hate everything!
While there may be plenty of aspects of your business that you’re not a fan of, I bet there are still some silver linings worth acknowledging.
So, how can you avoid making rash decisions?
First things first, take a deep breath and take a break from your business.
I know it may seem downright impossible when you’re knee-deep in it.
To make this time possible you might need to adjust your timelines, reschedule some meetings, or call in support.
But I urge you to do what you need to do and then put up that OOO message so you can carve out some non-negotiable, uninterruptible time for a breather!
I can guarantee you will feel SO MUCH BETTER once you take that much-needed time off.
Not only will you be more rested, but you’ll be able to come back to your business and approach challenges intentionally instead of impulsively.
You need time to reflect, process, and strategize. And NONE of these can be done effectively when you are burnt out or in fight or flight mode.
Instead, you need to be able to tend to your business with a clear mind and look at things objectively, while also considering your emotions, priorities, and circumstances.
Once you’ve created some space between you and your business, you can jump back into problem-solving mode with more perspective.
Because you’re no longer in the heat of the moment, you’ll be able to successfully get to the core of your challenges with a level head so you can find a clear path forward.
This part of the process is all about diagnosing the problem instead of just treating the symptoms. If you’re ever going to rebuild a business you love, you have to dig and find the true cause of whatever it is that’s making you so unhappy/frustrated/burnt out/ [insert negative feeling here].
Whether you identify with one of these challenges, several of them, or something else entirely, no one can identify the root of your business challenges for you. This process will require some soul-searching.
To get you started, I recommend you reflect on the true friction points you’re encountering in your business.
Brainstorm all of the things you dread, despise, or avoid altogether; the things that really make you groan and think “I hate this business” or “not this again!”
Look at these as redirections that can help you course-correct on your way back to the creative business you want and deserve.
Identifying the TRUE root of your dissatisfaction is the biggest key to adjusting effectively and ultimately rebuilding your business into something you love. Once you can pinpoint what isn’t working, you can strategically and creatively problem-solve so your business can finally start working for you.
Now, let’s revisit the BIG VISION you have for your business.
Your big vision refers to the overarching, long-term aspirations or dreams you have that guide the direction of your business. It’s like a North Star, providing a clear picture of where you want to be in the future.
It’s important that you consider what you’re building and how those rooted problems fit into the equation. Think about the role they play in achieving the vision you have for the future of your business. Consider how you can make sure you’re taking care of the essential pieces of your business while also kicking those friction points of your daily priorities to the curb.
Since you now have clarity around the major issues that are currently plaguing your business you can take time to revisit, refine, and adjust the following parts of your BIG VISION:
Your mission is your business’s reason for existence. It’s WHAT you’re doing as an entrepreneur and it’s especially important because it communicates your purpose and direction. Do you still feel that strong sense of connection and conviction toward your mission? It’s crucial to have a mission that you’re genuinely passionate about. If you’ve lost that fire, it could very well be one of the main reasons why you’re struggling to feel that excitement and motivation to show up day after day.
While your big vision is a broad dream that sets the tone for the future of your creative business, a vision or vision statement is different.
This is a concise and action-focused summary that clearly communicates where you are going, what you are building, and what you DO and DO NOT want to do to get there.
In essence: the big vision provides the inspiration, while the vision statement provides a practical framework for implementation.
Setting a clear vision is something that often slips through the cracks for many creative entrepreneurs. It’s a common pitfall that essentially defines the “accidental business.” But, it’s never too late to turn things around and get on the right track by setting a clear vision that you feel good about, excited to build, and aligned with.
Here’s a journaling prompt to kick this process off: From a big-picture point of view – how do you want your business to look, feel, and work?
COO Tip: Have you ever created a vision board? This exercise can help you solidify your business vision. If you’d like some guidance around this process, check out this blog post I created that will walk you through creating your own vision board step-by-step.
Your core values are the principles that guide all of your actions as you work to fulfill your VISION. These core values are what you will weigh all your business decisions against! Every action or step you take will be aligned with these core values. If anything in your business (strategies, actions, products, services, offers, or audience) is not in line with your core values, it can cause some serious resistance. So keep these in mind and stay committed to them as you reflect and adjust your business.
Next, it’s time to define success for YOUR creative business. Success means something different to each person and can evolve over time. But all too often, we default to defining success as simply monetary or superficial. Your definition of success may include money, freedom, lifestyle, time, impact, and/or something else entirely!
Take time to get uber-specific about what success looks like for you! Try this prompt: “I know I am being successful when…”
The more clear you are, the easier it is to tell if you’re on the right track to reaching your business goals.
Finally, it’s time to get clear on your personal WHY.
Your WHY is a powerful thing once you identify it and harness it. You need to know WHY you are doing this work, why you are chasing this dream, putting in these hours, and opening yourself up to criticism, feedback, and critique. If you find yourself mumbling, “Why am I even doing this?!” anytime you hit a bump or take on a less-than-favorite task in your business, it’s a telltale sign you need to get in touch with your deeper why.
To pinpoint your why, take your values and your definition of success and ask yourself why those things matter. For example: If you value freedom and that is how you define success, explore WHY and go beyond the superficial. Freedom can mean so many things (i.e. time, energy, lifestyle, financial freedom, etc.)!
When it comes to your mission, vision, values, your definition of success, and why…they probably all need a pulse check and recalibration!
Likely one (or many) of these factors is contributing to your unhappiness AND is a foundational part of the rooted problems you need to address.
When any of these aspects of your BIG VISION are out of alignment, it will always be difficult to thrive in and love the business you are building. You need absolute clarity here!
Plus, these things will directly inform the boundaries you need to set or adjust and your business plan (we’ll dive into this in just a moment, so keep reading)!
If your first thought is, “what business plan?!”…no shame!
Most entrepreneurs who stumble upon the “accidental business” don’t have a business plan, or if they do, it’s collecting dust in some old filing cabinet.
Either way, now’s the time to create an aligned business plan that supports your new vision, with your boundaries in mind.
So what is a business plan?
You can think of your business plan as the blueprint of a house.
Just as a home’s blueprints tell you the layout, dimensions, and specs of the house, your business plan will provide both a bird’s eye view and the specific details of your company.
Your Business Plan should include several components such as, but not limited to, your:
The beauty of this process is that you now have a TON of clarity around what you want and need from your business, so you can start to problem solve, remove friction, and make it easy to maintain healthy boundaries in your work.
You’re not starting from scratch! You’re starting from a business, which means you don’t need to throw everything out and start all over again.
You already have a solid start!
A big part of this process for you may be documenting what you’ve already been doing, assessing how it does or doesn’t align with everything you just discovered in your vision work, rooted problems, and definition of success, and adjusting those pieces strategically to get back to a business you truly love.
Remember: you are the BOSS!
You can run your business however you like (within the normal legal confines of course). So ditch the mentally of there being a right or wrong way to do this.
Naturally, your new goals and vision may seem impossible. You may start to question yourself and wonder,
“What will people say?”
“My clients will never accept that!”
“I have to do it this way because that’s how it’s always been done”
But I encourage you to push through, get creative AND strategic, and give it a try anyways! Now is the time to tap into your creative nature and be willing to experiment. Nothing is set in stone, and you can always adjust later as you see what is and isn’t working.
At the end of the day, the goal of your business plan should be to make sure ALL the pieces of your business strategically fit together, support each other, align with your talents, passions, skills, and values, AND add up to a successful, sustainable, and PROFITABLE business.
So you’ve got to the root of the problem and you have a shiny new business plan in place.
But you worry that you might fall back into old habits or unhealthy patterns.
A totally normal and valid concern!
So how can you intentionally prevent those issues in your business from ever happening again?
Boundaries serve two main purposes:
As a creative entrepreneur, you need to have clear, well-established, well-communicated, and intentional boundaries.
Without them, you risk people asking too much of you or taking way more than you want or are able to give. And that’s a one-way ticket back to resentment, contempt, and burn-out!
People aren’t necessarily trying to be malicious, it’s just human nature!
Set boundaries for your time, energy, resources, and business so that your needs, expectations, and values are clearly communicated to your team members, clients, family, and perhaps most importantly, yourself!
Then create a plan to reinforce the boundaries that matter most to you based on your priorities and values.
COO Tip: My best advice when it comes to enforcing boundaries as a creative business owner? Share them early and often. Make sure you communicate your expectations proactively and remind people of them as often as necessary. Then, stand firm. Remember: you teach people how to treat you. Your actions and follow-through will often speak loudest!
Last but certainly not least, if you’re ever going to ensure you continue to love your work and business, you need to carve out time to take care of yourself!
I highly recommend you implement a plan for continuous, intentional self-care!
In fact, self-care can even be baked into your business plan! After all, you are your business’s biggest asset! If you aren’t good, your business isn’t good!
Include time for:
By diving into these practices, you’ll be able to keep growing your confidence, skills, and talents, all while showing up for yourself and your business in a way that truly lights you up, gets you excited, and feels fulfilling.
You now have the tools to move from regret in your “accidental business” to fulfillment as you rebuild your business into a sustainable creative venture you truly love.
By acknowledging the factors that may have led to this point, such as outgrowing your business, industry changes, or following someone else’s path, you can now shift gears and focus on creating a business that truly aligns with your vision and values.
You deserve and are capable of leading a creative business that not only thrives but also brings you genuine fulfillment.
If you’re looking for guidance along your entrepreneurial journey, be sure to explore my business coaching offers here. It would be my privilege to support you and help you bring your vision to life!