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Running your own Business | 5 tips to help your business thrive while keeping a healthy mindset

designCara Ord

Often when you run a business it is your baby. It is personal. Anything that happens to your business directly impacts you and so you feel like it is part of you, an integral part. Being a small business owner myself I understand this feeling, but don't get trapped. Yes; your business, how it runs and whether it thrives effects your livelihood and income. However it is not you. A bad review of your business should not feel like a personal stab. In reverse a personal crisis should not impact your business (with the exception of emergency changes in open hours). 

Running your own business. Make sure you keep a clear definition of what is personal and what is professional.

Self employed and entrepreneurs are abundant and passionate but often fall into the trap of being too emotionally invested. This often leading to the detriment of them and/or their work. Although it is definitely not all that is needed a good rule for success is not getting too attached. A business is a job and should be run efficiently and diligently. Being too emotional in it's workings can lead to poor decisions and the slow inevitable road to ruin. 

Do not consider your work as a part of you or as a friend or baby, it is a business partnership (literally). No matter what your business is, whether it is an Etsy shop for craft ware, a personal training company or a parts supplier, the same rule applies. Logic wins over sentiment.

Now to clarify I am not talking about changing your brand. If you brand is all about being close and personal with your clients and being 'like' a family figure then that is great, but your brand is the face of your business and shouldn't be your personal persona 24/7. I am talking about cutting emotional ties with your work. It is not only poor work practice but negative for your health.

Being too emotionally invested in your work and business can cause major stress and can be a trigger for anxiety and depression. You cannot keep all your eggs in one basket. A business is there for financial support and as an expression of passion, you cannot also use it as an emotional crutch or replacement for a life and relationships. Lead a balanced life. For your business to prosper it cannot be everything to you. For it to work it needs to have the opportunity of failure without ruining your life.

I am a work-a-holic, I know what I am talking about. I have been career minded since high school and I used to get my sense of pride and worth from work. I would for go relationships and friendships because I didn't think I needed it and the only way I felt successful is if I was over worked because then I knew I had given my all. This is such an unhealthy way to live. Although i didn't know that at the time.

So how did I get myself to flick the switch and get out of this unhealthy situation before it was too late? Well I didn't. I was stressed, overworked, started pulling all nighters and became a sufferer of anxiety and depression. It sucked. Only once I hit my low did I realise what I was doing wrong. By this point I did have a relationship (with my now husband) and he was the blessing which helped me most on getting back on track. But here are a few tips for helping you seperate your emotional dependance from your work or business before it becomes too late, tips to help you lead a healthy balanced life while being the super human you are making your business work.

  1. Have someone to make you accountable - now family is great for this but they can be too close. I recommend having a great group of out of work friends to go to where you can let out some steam and get advice as well as let down your hair with. Now introverts like me may be balking at the idea of socialising, I understand the pain. However it isn't hard. If you don't have one or a couple friends out of work, join a club or do classes for something you love. In a structured environment it is ten times easier to hit it off with someone and that way you will have dedicated time once a week to be social and catch up.

  2. Exercise daily - Now before I start sounding like a life guru or a personal trainer (which I am not) I am talking about light exercise. The kind which simply gets you out of your chair, your office, your shop and gets you moving. I take walks every morning before I get down to business and it helps to calm my mind, and most importantly seperate my ‘me time’ from my ‘work time’ giving me a healthy transition task to do before I get into my email inbox.

  3. Do not be your brand - I sort of touched on this earlier. But it is so important that you are not the brand of your business. I talk about Brand in my free ebook which you can grab here. You and your business are both individual personalities. Your brand/business does not have opinions like you do, no political/religious sway, it does not favour the food you do, do it's hair like your or like the same music. Your brand does not hit snooze, or read the books you do or go shopping. Your brand is not you so don't make yourself your brand. Your brand is the face of your business, you're its spokesperson, make sure that you make a definitive separation between the two (especially if you have employees). If you need help with your brand and making it work for you let me know, we can chat using the form below.

  4. Schedule - it is so, so easy to make your business a 24/7 thing. Having your email right there on your phone and everything literally a hands stretch away can make it so easy for you to work work work. This is why it is so important to schedule your time. Running your own business gives you freedom to live how you want to, it is not a license to work all the time. Schedule out when you want to work and your me time. This could be setting a simple 9-5 schedule for yourself or be more complex and having 4 hours of work split throughout the day, 7 days a week. Whatever you decide make a work schedule and stick to it so you have the opportunity to let yourself switch off.

  5. Make sure you have a hobby which isn't work - I am the type of person which seems to turn all of her hobbies and passions into careers; design, illustration even iceskating have all become jobs for me. My advice is to have one hobby that will never be a job. At the moment for me this is reading, and in the future when I work with books (as an illustrator/designer) it will be knitting (I am so bad at it I know I can never make a career out of this hobby). Have something you can do that you can relax with and you don't have to do as part of work.

I hope my little bit of advice can help you relax. Please seperate yourself and your business. Your business cannot be everything for you, it is an impossible task, and you can't be everything for your business. Have fun and enjoy life. That is why you started this venture in the first place isn't it?

Till next week,
Cara

Design for Sentimentality | Wedding invitations, stationary and personal projects

designCara OrdComment

Graphic design isn't just for corporate clients, we don't just make logos and advertisements, there is so much more. When you think of graphic designer often what comes to mind is a corporate hipster drinking overly priced coffee and pretentiously gloating about branding and UX and their next high-class client. However not all of us, or many of us designers actual fit that bill. Yes I may like a nice Starbucks once in a blue moon and yes I do branding for my share of corporate clients but that is not all I am about. 

My biggest group of clientele are actual ordinary people, brides with upcoming weddings and mothers who want a special design for their baby dedication. These clients don't want a flashy logo or branding that grows their reach or attracts profits. They have nothing to sell, they simply want something beautiful and meaningful for them. As such you should not treat these lovely people as if they are a business. 

When doing what is considered standard graphic design we are doing 'problem solving', finding the best visual and experience solutions to answer a clients problem. However designing for sentimentality is more than this. You are not solving a problem but seeking to bring happiness, and this means that you should take care in every step of the process. Treat your client as a friend, or family. Respect their wishes and tastes, this project is purely for them and them alone. Unlike other design projects you only have 1 person who has to be happy at the end of the day and that is the client standing right in front of you.

I offer wedding invite and stationary design and personalised illustration for weddings and families as part of my eclectic services. I love being able to find that perfect design to put a smile on a Brides face. A bride just wants to know that you get it. That you understand what she wants. Wedding planning is stressful and any tension you can take away from that is a blessing. 

I like to add the personal touch with hand crafted illustrations in all my wedding invite designs

I like to add the personal touch with hand crafted illustrations in all my wedding invite designs

When designing or illustrating for sentimentality the biggest thing you can do is listen. Listen to what your client wants and do your best to provide it. On top of this go the extra mile, have a conversation with your client, you may be able to help them out in more ways then just design. Maybe you can direct them to a great photographer or recommend colours for a beautiful bouquet. Trust me, your client would love that you have gone the extra mile and respect you for it. Being attentive to your clients adds value to your service, a value which sadly is not widely available.

Designing for personal projects remember to treat each client as an individual. Never box them in or categories them. When working with a personal project, where the clients heart and soul is in it a template will never do. Respect their passion and their time and effort put into this project. They haven't come to you to be cast aside or handed off, they have come to you for your expertise and advice. They just need your help crossing the last hurdle to their happy finish line.

If you are a possible client reading this. Please do not allow yourself to be under valued. Yes hunting for the cheapest price may get you a quick design but I can guarantee the designer on the other side is just wanting to do a quick slap up job to gain some quick cash. When hunting for someone to make your wedding invites, or a poster or mural for your home, don't settle for someone who doesn't treat you like you are your own person. When clients quote through me, I strive to make sure that I have added value to their lives. Sometimes the budget may not fit the project but we work together to create something out of it. Whether it be by creating the dream piece they wanted, giving them helpful tips and advice to help them with their plans or by educating them about the design world and what steps they will need to take to complete their project.

I hope this little piece has helped both designers and clients and that both parties earn the respect they deserve. 

If anyone may need my assistance in a sentimental design project, whether it be a personal endeavour, party/event invites or wedding stationary please contact me through the form below and I would be happy to lend a helping hand, or share any advice I can offer.

Have a lovely day.