Welcome back to the final instalment of the story of how I got where I am today.
Here’s an embarrassing and painful confession:
Even though I bootstrapped Indie Retail Academy while simultaneously running two other businesses and have run it for nearly a decade…
Even though I’ve taught thousands of artists, written more than a dozen workshops and templates, spoken at industry events, coached high-achieving creative business-women, nurtured a thriving online community, continually invested in developing my knowledge and skills, worked as an actor for twenty years, kept a bricks-and-mortar retail business afloat during the worst recessions in living memory…
…and people often tell me I’ve changed their lives in wealth-boosting, creatively satisfying ways…
…I still sometimes hear a voice in my head telling me I’m not *really* cut out for business.
According to this voice, I’m a boring fruad who’s going to be found out any second.
The voice says:
“If you were a REAL business-person, you’d be…”
Less into feelings.
More into numbers.
More into coffee.
More into networking.
Less highly sensitive.
More into instagram.
More into spreadsheets.
More into positive thinking.
More into optimising my morning routine.
Less into tarot.
Less into comfort.
Less into pleasure.
Less angry about how little artists get paid…
and much less WEIRD AND WRONG.”
It goes on to suggest that sitting down and shutting up are the only two truly worthwhile things I can do with my day.
I bring this up because I know you hear the voice too.
A decade of working with artists has shown me that even the most conspicuously successful amongst us can come up with evidence to prove that:
a) they don’t really know what they’re doing, and
b) the lovely thing they make isn’t actually worth a penny.
When I believe the voice, my day is endless and tepid.
Curling up on the couch with a bottle of Max Strength CBD, a bag of prawn crackers and the box set of Ted Lasso is about all I’m good for.
But on days when I’m able to tune it out, I can recognise it for what it is.
It’s the sound of all the rules I’ve broken.
And the rules I continue to break, every day, when I show up for work.
Rules like “REAL artists don’t care about money…”
And “REAL business-owners have a business degree….”
With a side order of “Who gave you permission to draw attention to yourself, Clare?”
But it’s scary, scary, scary. The voice is loud and scolding.
Which is why I want to remind us both that it’s not our job to conform to anyone else’s image of a creative business owner.
You know what I think?
The biggest rule we break is the one against being happily ourselves.
The world doesn’t like it when we do that. It makes us dangerously free.
The truth is that we only ever do anything in our own uniquely weird, highly personal way.
We naturally bring our particular sensibility to running a business, just like we bring it to getting dressed in the morning.
Our own way of doing things is the actually the only way.
So the question for each of us is:
…do I agree to feel a lot of toxic fear and shame about that…
…or do I give myself a rubber-stamped permission slip to riotously enjoy running my business, my way?
Guess which one I’m shooting for (and which one I wish for you.)
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