Making Work, Work for You
This is the next part in my series of posts focussing on life outside of the corporate world. I felt compelled to write this after my latest session with my creative coach because it made me realise that some of you may feel relieved or perhaps even inspired by the approach I am taking. In many ways I am consciously stepping away from “must haves” and “should does” when it comes to running your own creative business.
Over the past year I have become so clear about what it is I want out of my life, at nearly forty I am pretty glad about that, at least I have some time left to live it hey? One of the first questions I was asked during my kick off session with my coach was: “what would your ideal life look like, how do you want to be living your life in a years time?”. This was such a refreshing way to think about work, instead of asking me “how much money do you need Botanical Tales to make” or “what would success look like to you for Botanical Tales”, we instead explored what life I wanted to live and what I needed in my business or work to take me there.
The answer really is quite basic, I’m simply striving for a life where I can be more present with my boys, have the space in my weeks to continue creating and have the flexibility and freedom to flex my work load to allow me to take on new challenges and hopefully travel more with the family. When you read that sentence you will probably notice that there are no specifics about what the work is right? Nothing about the amount of money I want to earn or ambitions about the size of my business. And this is intentional, it’s not that I don’t dream big, that I don’t want to achieve my own goals but really they are second place to realising my dream life.
Having this clarity of vision, to know exactly what it is I want out of life has enabled me over the past few months to assess everything that has come my way, always with that clear vision in mind. We are told time and time again to have a purpose and vision for your business which is so important but I truly believe that it is just as important to have a vision for yourself. I would urge you to think this through if you don’t already know what it is you are looking for.
So what does this mean for Botanical Tales? In many ways, not much will change and I’m sure you my dear reader won’t notice anything major but for me, the way I thought I would be running things is definitely going to shift. Let me explain.
The reality is, I never started Botanical Tales with the sole intention of turning it into a business, not at all, essentially it was my creative outlet when I was stuck in a job where I felt restricted and drained. I was of course delighted when it began to grow it’s own wings and become something more. It’s given me confidence, self belief and a return to my creative roots. If it wasn’t for Botanical Tales I’m pretty sure I would still be working in the corporate environment none the wiser to an alternative life - side note: I wrote about why I left my job here if you fancied a read. As it grew and I began to make a little money from it through workshops and products, I started to read and listen to podcasts, a lot. Blog posts, business books, instagram posts, all about following your dream and taking the leap and just a lot of words on monetising a creative business. So when it came to leaving my job last year and I started to seriously look at Botanical Tales and how I could turn it in to a thriving business, I slowly began to lose the joy I felt for it. I started questioning everything I was doing and equating it all back to money. For example, why am I spending an hour writing this blog post when I could be putting together another workshop to MAKE MONEY?
And here’s the thing, I struggle with the selling part of this business. Whilst I love the making and the teaching, I find it incredibly difficult to sell and whilst many folk will tell you there is a way through it, I just don’t enjoy it. For example you may or may not know that I have a workshop running in March, I say this because I have barely marketed it but amazingly the tickets have sold. I made a decision to give myself months to sell the tickets so I didn’t feel that pressure of having to “drive sales”. And slowly but surely, week by week, I have sold tickets, my friends have invested, I even have a lady coming whose fiancé bought her a ticket for V day - heart melt. This slow steady way of filling up a workshop makes me feel joyful and most important comfortable. But clearly I’m never going to make a thriving business with this approach right? The reality is I don’t want to be shoving products and workshops down my followers throats, making people feel like they need to buy something (“only 3 tickets left guys, quick before they go!” - it’s just not me) from me. But I do want to keep offering those of you who want to invest in yourselves via one of my workshops or products, the opportunity to do so because it’s my most favourite part of what I do.
So I guess you’re wondering where I’m going with this right? Well, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some adjustments I am making to the way I run things in order for me to make this business work for me and my family.
Workshops: I will continue to run my workshops throughout the year and this year will see me branch out in to offering workshops on how to dry flowers, making your own dried flower bouquet as well as few more ideas I would like to trial. These workshops will mostly be held in my studio in Farnham and with a select few hosts such as & Hobbs and Victoria Shop.
The Shop: An e-shop is a huge tie, particularly one like mine where everything is made to order, this is making it really hard to manage in its current guise. So whilst my shop will remain, I will only be opening it at certain periods in the year, seasonally and when demand is the highest, items will be available on pre-sale throughout the year so you can always place an order ready for when I do open. The next shop opening will be this March for the four weeks leading up to Mothers Day, then I will likely close until September as we will all be enjoying the abundance of fresh flowers during those months!
Commissions: I will continue to take commissions for weddings, special events and styling jobs. This is an area I am really keen to expand in to, so expect to see more from me on this one!
The bit that has shifted is that all of this will be supported by my freelance marketing work. I have over 15 years brand marketing experience and over the past few months, I have come to realise that I don’t want to step away from something I am actually pretty good at and also enjoy. I am still defining exactly what my offering is in this space, but it’s likely to focus on digital marketing strategy as well as content creation for small brands that fit with my values and ethos. This type of work can be done anywhere in the world, which means it should give me the freedom I am seeking. More on this anon when I have finalised my plans.
By making my freelance work the bread and butter of my business, it allows me to stay true and authentic to my brand (without feeling like I need to take those sponsored offerings that drop into my inbox because I am so desperate for cash) and it also means I can keep my prices accessible. Moving forward I will be donating a % of all my sales to a nature charity, I have my ideal one in mind and am in discussions before I confirm to you who that will be. This is something I have wanted to set up for a while and now I have the time and the space within my pricing to do it, I will get cracking.
It will also allow me the time to explore those passion projects of mine, I have a book proposal I am in the middle of writing, this month will see me go back to my cheffing roots as I provide the food for Elizabeth Cairns latest retreat and a few other exciting projects.
So there you have it, Botanical Tales, a multi hyphenated business of sorts! I hope this has been useful, to show you that there is another way if you wish to seek it out. That your business can be made to work for you not make you a slave to it and that it is OK to find and then follow your own path. This is a constantly evolving thing so I know it may look different a month or in a years time but for now this is my perfect.