June 27, 2023
Pssst…Before we get into the nuts and bolts of the episode, we wanted to let you know we have a new facebook group for this podcast! 🤗
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One of the truths about being a business owner, is that we have to face hard realities. In order to be successful, there will be times when we have to face difficult situations head on.
What are some of the hard realities you have had to face in your graphic design business? AND, looking back, how have you handled them? What is your go-to response?
Let’s dive into some examples of hard realities in a design business.
Do you ever ignore the signs when you need to change something about your business or the way you are doing things?
There’s lots of ways we use the avoidance response:
Avoiding the hard task we have to do
Avoidance is underpinned by fear as it’s the thing we are too scared to face. It’s the conversation you don’t want to have with someone or the action you don’t want to take.
Don’t sit in the short-term comfort of avoiding a situation. It’s an illusion! The outcome of burying your head in the sand can be so much worse than facing the actual hard thing.
We can speak from personal experience—leaving difficult situations unresolved can have a long-term impact on your business and your mental health. Unresolved energy is far worse in the long run than facing the initial discomfort. Every single time.
We don’t want you to have regrets like these…
”If only I faced up to that thing!”
“If only I found out why that client didn’t go ahead with me!”
“If only I ended that business relationship sooner!”
“If only I did my financial forecast last month!”
You often hear about designers being the victims of ghosting, but graphic designers ghost people too!
People ghost for many reasons:
Not wanting to disappoint
Not wanting to be the bearer of bad news
Not wanting to say no
Not wanting to follow up for fear of rejection
It’s easy to put certain conversations in the too hard basket, so we end up ghosting the person who needs a response or who needs to be informed.
With ghosting, you are essentially burning bridges. It can impact your reputation and have a bigger ripple effect than you think. Ghosting is not professional, it’s not in integrity and it’s simply not great energy to be putting out into the world!
Do you have a tendency to play the victim?
Victimhood is when we deflect accountability from ourselves and say it wasn’t my fault – it was them.
When bad things happen, it can feel easier to blame others (or situations!) than to be accountable.
You might end up feeling like the victim for lots of different reasons in your business. It might be that you have a nasty client experience. It might be that you have a bad supplier experience and they’ve made you look bad.
You’ll always be able justify your feelings. The other person’s behaviour will always seem worse to you. And people CAN be horrible.
But remember no one is the villain in their own story.
You could even be blaming the economy, social media algorithms, government policies etc. Ahhh! This is the reason you don’t have clients coming in the door!
When you blame and become the victim, you don’t have to:
It’s a perfect excuse, right?
But blame and victimhood takes a lot of energy. It takes precious focus away from the important, needle-moving actions that could get you ahead in your business.
Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to let things go and take responsibility for your actions.
Just as a side note, if you’re having ongoing client difficulties, it could be a client management problem. As designers it’s our job to project manage our clients and reign them in if necessary. Here are some helpful podcast episodes to help you manage clients:
#60 The No. 1 reason your clients are difficult
#45 Design business boundaries – project management
Do you have core values for your business? (definition of core values) Check in with them.
If you haven’t created a list of values for your business, we highly recommend you do this!
Values are a collection of words that explain what what your business stands for, what you believe in and what you feel strongly about.
Values are your decision making guide—they are your integrity pillars. You’ll know if your integrity is at stake – you’ll feel it in your gut. Don’t ignore it.
If you don’t stay in integrity, it can be this kind of evil poison that’s stewing and festering in your business.
It can also affect our self-esteem, because we know deep down when we are not in integrity. It’s an awful feeling when you look back and go ‘Gosh I wish I handled that better’.
Instead: “I’m going to be accountable for how I’m feeling about this. I’m going to be accountable for taking the action that needs to be taken.“
Think about yourself in the future – how will future you wish you handled this?
There are so many ways you can say no.
We were inspired by a Tim Ferris’s podcast episode on this topic. He shared some rejections he received – check our the episode here. Here are some of the examples he used:
“I thought carefully about this, as it’s clearly a wonderful opportunity, but I’m going to decline with gratitude.”
You could use a variation of this for your graphic design business, such as:
“I thought carefully about this, however it’s not aligned to my business model. Thanks so much for thinking of me, but I will have to decline at this stage.”
Tim Ferris also spoke to blaming the policy. An example of this for a graphic designer could be:
‘I’m really grateful you thought of me but I have a policy of not taking on ad-hoc projects.”
There will be times where you’ll need to call people out and implement a boundary. You can always do this with respect and kindness. Stick to the facts and don’t let emotions override your sensibilities and become reactive. Give yourself a little pause and grace.
Sometimes you’ll need to farewell a relationship. If you’ve got a toxic client or a supplier that just isn’t delivering, it’s ok to have a conversation where you say, we are not in alignment. It doesn’t make either of you bad, it just means you’re not a good fit.
YOU MAY NEED OUR NICELY SAID SCRIPTS FOR TRICKY CLIENT SITUATIONS!
After this episode we are thinking they should be called ’Standing up for yourself scripts’! 😊
Get the hard situation out into the light. Awareness is everything! The minute you recognise your unhelpful response to a hard situation, you can be empowered to do something about it. “I see what’s going on here’.
Write down why don’t you want to face this hard thing. Ask yourself:
What is the very worst thing that could happen?
What am I afraid of?
What is the worst case scenario?
Sometimes we catastrophize difficult things and if you write a plan for your worst case scenario, it might not be as bad as your mind thinks.
Here’s some of our top strategies for seeking business accountability and support:
Sometimes our avoidance patterns of may need a deeper level of healing. For example, you may have been taught from a very young age that confrontation to be avoided at all costs. Or, you may have an unconscious belief that staying small is a way to stay safe.
In this case you may benefit from working through this with a therapist or healthcare professional. We love energetic healers or you might reach out to a spiritual advisor you trust.
Sometimes the hard thing we have to face is whether we have what it takes to run a graphic design business. We’re not talking about design talent here, this is about asking yourself if you have the personality type to be a CEO. Are you an entrepreneur at heart?
We’re not going to say that building a design business is for everyone. It’s not. Some personality type are simply happier when they are employed by someone else. We are all different and we have different needs, financial commitments and family circumstances.
And that’s perfectly fine if that fits your description. Listen to your gut — there is no shame in getting a job as a graphic designer.
But we are optimists, and as business strategists obviously WE want you to be in business and stay happily in business.
So, if you’re thinking ‘yes!’ I love being in business! Then ask yourself:
Am I facing the hard things in my business that I need to do?
Where do my strengths lie?
What is missing for my business to be successful?
Do I need to partner up?
Do I need to outsource certain aspects of my business?
Do I need to accept the fact that I can’t be good at everything?
Do I need to level up my skills?
Do I need help (though coaching and training)?
Being a CEO is hard work – let’s not gloss over that. It’s not for everybody and it’s certainly hard if you are doing it all on your own.
If you need help with taking action, hop on a free call with us! We’ll help you to be accountable and face up to the hard things in your business. We can be part of your team and we want to help you thrive
Learning how to face up to difficult things will be trial and error in your life.
Facing the hard thing might not be as scary as you think! Often it’s the thinking and stewing that feels so much worse.
We’ll leave you with these mantras:
“I’m going to be accountable for how I’m feeling about this”
“I’m going to be accountable for taking the action that needs to be taken.“
Let’s face reality together — let’s put on our big pants and do it.
P.S If you’ve got a lot of fear showing up around your design business, we’ve done a podcast that may help: Episode 53 when fear rears its head in your graphic design business.
For full transcript click here
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