by Melody Christian | Featured Contributor
I’d like to start by taking a survey:
Who has ever blamed their business on something?
I’d love to see the response around the She Owns It room of entrepreneurial women—because my hunch is, every one of us has. Let me give a few examples.
You’re late to a coffee date with your best friend. You had to get a project out the door, and now it’s done—but you haven’t even touched your “must do” list for the day. You call her up. “I’m so sorry! I’m going to have to skip our coffee date. I have work I have to get done tonight.”
Your back is killing you. You uncomfortably shift in your fancy office chair (they said it was going to make it better), grab the hunk of chocolate that’s leftover from yesterday’s “lunch,” then stare at your screen to get more work done. You tell yourself, “I don’t have time to work out or make healthier life choices.”
I blame my business. Whether it’s the amount of work I have or the unpredictability of my clients that change my well-intended plans—I blame me messing up my priorities on my business. Us entrepreneurial women work hard, and we have to make sacrifices (especially at the beginning) in order to make our dreams happen. It calls for a lot of all-nighters, tight budgets, and ominous schedules. It’s only natural that our business gets blamed, because—well—it’s justified, and often our circumstances are the way they are because of our businesses!
But there’s just one problem with always putting the blame on our great business ventures—people notice.
When we blame our business for why we’re not seeing a good friend as often, spending enough quality time with our spouse, or maintaining a healthy lifestyle—people can turn resentful. I realized this when talking with friend one day. As I started to explain why I wasn’t able to get together with her, she interrupted with an eye roll and said to me, “Let me guess: you have to work on business stuff.” It was a blow to my chest, and all of a sudden my business’ brand was in jeopardy.
We’re all aware of our outcast status as an entrepreneur, and how 90% of the people closest to us will never fully understand what it is that we do or why we do it. But they are the people that shape our reputation and spread the word about us—so what they think is important.
Our brand is how we (our business) is seen by others. We work to create solid, positive relationships with our clients and fellow businesses. We pour so much of ourselves into making our brands right. Then we turn around and wash it all away with a short comment—”I have to work tonight.” We create a negative energy around our business and our brand, and honestly—it starts to rub off on us, too. My business is one of the best things in my life and one of my greatest accomplishments. I want to take care of it, uphold it, and break the cycle of blaming it.
What can we do to avoid harming our brand when our business is to blame?
- Make it a habit to tell others about your business. Sometimes I’m guilty of rambling on to someone I’ve just recently met about how I need to get home soon so I can respond to an important client email. They have no idea what I do, and all it looks like is that I’m putting an email over them. If I just take an extra minute to explain to them my business pursuits, people are often very understanding, and will even excitedly ask for a few business cards! I’ve brought them on board with me, and it no longer looks like I’m trying to blame my business for having to step away.
- Speak positively and keep an upbeat tone. You might have to skip out on a meal with your friend because a client just moved a deadline on you last minute. But that doesn’t mean you should grumble and complain about it. Keep your tone upbeat and speak positively. For example: “I wish I could go out tonight! But I have an exciting project coming up that I should really focus on. What about next Saturday?”
- Compromise and commit. You can’t always be ducking out of dinners and birthday parties because of your business. Figure out when you absolutely need to be able to focus on your work, as well as when you have some free time. If you tell your friends you really can’t do things on Thursday nights because of Friday deadlines, make yourself available on other nights that you know will work for them and you. If you uphold what you commit to, they’ll plan accordingly, and because of compromise—you’ll actually get to go out!
- Set your priorities right. This is really the umbrella solution to all else. Our friends and family should always come before our business. As entrepreneurs, we’re pulled in all different directions. There will be many times that it’ll dictate what we can or cannot do—but our relationships, spirituality, and health should always come first.
Remember why we chose this crazy entrepreneurial path: freedom. So make it what you want it to be and stop blaming things on your business.
Melody Christian is a brand designer and creative business owner who’s crazy about her tribe of inspirational, passionate storytellers. In January of 2015, she launched her life’s calling, Finicky Designs. Through Finicky Designs, she helps devoted writers form incredible brands that propel their words.
Working as an in-house designer for over five years, she’s also pursued her freelance side-hustle in the evenings and on the weekends. She likes to joke that she works day and night (but no, really, she works day and night). Only seven months after launching Finicky Designs, she’s decided to pursue it full time to create a life of freedom and fulfillment. Currently in the transition of the “big leap,” she’ll be saying goodbye to her nine-to-five forever on July 15th of this year.
Melody firmly believes it’s her life’s calling to help as many writers as she can through her brand design expertise. Writers’ stories deserve to be heard, and that they deserve to work with a designer that understands and supports their dreams.
Melody lives in the Colorado mountains with her personal accountant (the husband) and two spoiled dogs. She’s slightly obsessed with Pantone colors, foxes, french toast, and chocolate breaks. You can find her on Twitter. Or if you prefer a more behind-the-scenes look at her life—connect on Instagram.