For many creatives, it can be difficult when you first start your business to know exactly who you are. When you find out who you are as a creative, it can open doors for your business. By being more authentic, you will naturally stand out from the competition, and create products and services that you take pride in. To do this, you will need to find your authentic self.
How This Can Affect Your Business
When I began designing stationery back in 2010, I was researching the trends, viewed what others were doing in my industry, etc. Of course I sold a few things here and there, but I didn't actually become a profitable business until I found my authentic self.
About six months after starting my business, I was designing for a client, and the worst thought came to mind: "I would never choose this for my wedding stationery". WOW. It was such an eye-opener, and I started wondering how I created something that wasn't me. I realized that I was paying too much attention to the trends, instead of focusing on my creative ability. I reviewed my portfolio and removed all the designs that I wouldn't purchase myself, and it left me with five designs - out of twenty. I wasn't selling what I thought because I basically looked like everyone else.
Think about your business, and if you were in need of utilizing your own services, what you would do. If you are a photographer, would you want all black and white photos? If you are wedding planner, how would you plan your own wedding day? I asked myself a very simple question:
Over the next few weeks I came up with an entirely new collection, all spawned from this very question. Once I designed a few that I would buy myself, I started adding specifics, such as "If I wanted a nautical wedding, how would I design that?". This launched my new line, and within sixty days increased my sales by 75%, and doubled my sales within four months.
The Challenge to be Different
It can be scary to think that you need to make changes to better your business. While it is a business, it is personal - this is something you have created and take pride in. In order to be able to execute on becoming more authentic with your business, you need to embrace change.
In what ways can you improve your overall client experience? How can you make ordering from you easier, so you can gain more clients? How can you publish more pricing options to become more transparent? How can you streamline? Don't be afraid to do something completely different than everyone else - this is what will make you stand out from the competition.
Finding Your Authentic Self
It is hard to not admire others work, and think that your work isn't as good as someone else's. To find your authentic self, you need to focus on who you are as a person, and not what is currently trending. We are surrounded by competition and the burning desire to succeed, and neither of these will go away when you are an entrepreneur.
If someone were to ask "who are you?", how would you answer? Most would say I am a mother, wife, photographer, designer, etc. but technically these are results of who you have become. Try this exercise below to assist with finding your authentic self.
1. What did I want to be when I grew up?
This will identify your natural traits.
2. Who are the people I am the most comfortable around?
If they were to view my portfolio, would they know I was the creator of it?
3. What is your favorite place?
What part can I bring with me into my work?
4. When you look at your work as a creative, do you see yourself in it?
Are there components that represent who you are as a person?
5. What changes would I make in my business if I had a 100% guarantee they would work?
6. Now, read your answers and see if the following apply:
- Is this reflected in your products or services?
- Is this how you want to run your business?
- Did you achieve your creativity from your authentic self, or from what others are doing?
- What would you like to change right now?
Finding your authentic self is challenging, but can be the most rewarding change you make in your business. What have you done to set yourself apart from the competition?