Finding Your Tribe

Open Heart Creative PortfolioAt a networking event last week, a woman I’d just met asked if anything has surprised me on the journey from where I started my business to where I am today. Without hesitation, I replied, “The fact that my idea actually worked!”

During the year I spent dreaming about Open Heart Creative, there was one thing I knew for sure: I wanted to work with women-led businesses.

I got plenty of pushback. “Why target just women?” “Aren’t you limiting yourself?”

As if the universe of female entrepreneurs was so small, I was shooting myself in the foot. Setting myself up for failure. While I appreciated the feedback, I decided to put my stake in the ground.

Six years in, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit stunned by what’s transpired. It’s amazing to see my vision – of focusing solely on doing work I love and being of service to organizations of all shapes and sizes – become a reality. But there’s been an unexpected upside: in the process of looking for clients, I’ve found my tribe.

Yes, Virginia – there is an entire world of women who are building businesses and making a difference. And it turns out that many {many!} of them want to work together. Encourage and support each other. And have fun doing it.

When I tell people that virtually all of my business comes through networking and referrals, they tend to look skeptical. But what is often whispered during coffee dates or over martinis is true: women do business differently. We enjoy taking time to get to know each other. Relish opportunities to dig deeper and build relationships. And don’t hesitate to use each other’s services, try each other’s products, or pass along names and email addresses of colleagues we trust and respect.

I’ve often said what makes me happiest about being my own boss is having the freedom to choose my clients. Who knew I could also choose to surround myself with an incredibly diverse, talented, inspiring, and loving circle of colleagues and cheerleaders? Despite all the thought and care and planning that went into launching OHC, this is something I never saw coming.

If you’re a solopreneur, you know the struggle is real. It’s easy to become mired in uncertainty, overwhelm, and loneliness. Finding your tribe is the antidote.

As we celebrate the season of thanks-giving, my heart is filled with gratitude for the women who have trusted me to help them tell their stories honestly and fearlessly. And for those who I am blessed to call friends.

Grateful Heart

grateful-heart

Grateful Heart

Lately I’ve been bemoaning the fact that I haven’t posted to this blog in months. Many months.

A minimum of once a month. That was the plan.

My last post is dated April 9. You do the math.

I’ve had a boatload of excuses: I was hiking in Peru, needed to catch up with my book club reading, was busy writing in other people’s voices. The water heater blew. Cat ate my homework.

While those reasons were {mostly} valid, I kept beating myself up for falling down on the job. And letting the guilt become yet another obstacle.

Then these words popped up as I scrolled through my Facebook news feed: What if today we were just grateful for everything?

Hmmnnnn. Why not run all this negativity through the Gratitude machine? And here’s what came out: Today I am grateful for my clients.

Instead of focusing on what I haven’t done, I’m thinking about how amazing the past few months have been. How lucky I’ve been to work with fabulous women who are running incredible businesses. Women who are willing to share their hopes, and dreams, and trust me with their stories.

I’m also thinking about the opportunities I’ve had to share my own story. To sit in circles of like-minded women and feel encouraged, and inspired, and empowered as they nodded their heads and said, “Me, too.”

Just because I didn’t invest my time writing here doesn’t mean I failed. Or shirked my responsibilities. I’ve been writing for my clients. The very women I dreamed of supporting when Open Heart Creative was taking shape. And I’ve seen – and experienced – the power of opening our hearts, claiming our voices and sharing our authentic selves. With our customers. And each other.

In Quiet Power Strategy, Tara Gentile encourages us create unique strategies for growing our business instead of trying to make others’ strategies work for our business. She writes: “Quiet Power Strategy asks you to focus on what you are driven to create and how best to connect with the people who will be served by that creation.”

So today, I’m grateful for the courage to not always practice what I {or someone else} preaches. For following my heart instead of {always} following the rules. For living my truth as a heart-centered business owner. And connecting with others who are doing the same.

Today I thank every woman who has given me her support, time, patience, guidance, faith and love.

What are you grateful for?

 

 

Finding Your Voice

find-your-voiceMy throat’s been really sore the past few days. The kind of sore that radiates into your chest, makes swallowing torture, and talking a last resort.

Whenever this happens I’m reminded of the healer who once told me I had a tendency towards imbalance in my throat chakra.

This wasn’t great news for someone whose livelihood revolves around communication, but it wasn’t a total surprise. The throat chakra is sort of like the Oval Office for creative self-expression: It‘s the energy center that allows us to communicate with clarity and confidence.

It also powers our voice: Our ability to speak our truth with conviction and compassion. To express our ideas, insights, desires, and feelings without worrying about being wrong. Without fear of being judged.

On any given day, finding my voice – speaking my truth – can be hard enough without throwing a blocked chakra into the mix.

And I know I’m not alone.

The struggle to communicate real thoughts and feelings is arguably the number one reason my clients hire me. When I tell someone I’m a business writer, they often say, “I have such a hard time writing about myself and what I do.”

In my heart I believe this is less about skill and more about the fear of giving voice to what it is we honestly want to say – about our products, our services, and ourselves.

“Voice” is one of the most important elements in any piece of writing. It conveys personality and character, attitude and style. It’s the thing that draws me in to a good story – and keeps me there until the last page.

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s equally important to have a “brand voice.”

When this voice speaks your language – when it conveys your unique values and intentions with honesty and integrity – it resonates with those who speak it, too. And when you boil it all down, that’s the key to building a brand – and growing a business.

Author Neil Gaiman says, “Most of us find our own voices only after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.” As a writer, that certainly has been my experience.

But many of us know what our voice sounds like. We use it when we believe in ourselves. When we’re comfortable with our ideas and opinions. When we’re sharing from our hearts.

Healing the throat chakra is about having the courage to use our voice even when it feels risky. It begins with having the confidence to own our story – and tell it as only we can.