Healthy Business Relationships: Resolutions for the New Year

If you haven't heard yet it's 2016. ;) Which now that we are almost halfway into January, the mania of resolutions and words of the year and other things we do to psych ourselves up for "the best year EVER!" has simmered down a bit.

We've talked about Maker Resolutions a bit in our newsletter (hey, if you're not a subscriber then you are missing out! Go to the bottom of this page, subscribe and also get a worksheet to help you figure out your business resolutions). Today, I wanted to expand a bit on thinking about "resolutions" or "goals" or just plain mindfulness about areas that I think can frequently trip us up.

Specifically, I'd like to think of these as business relationships we enter into and how to make them healthier. So not so much of a resolution, so much of thinking about this the way we think of friends or relatives we know that are important to us-- relationships we have to actively manage and look to improve. What do you think? I'd love to know! Please comment below. 

A Healthy Relationship with Social Media

This one is first because I think social media is something we all are "forced" to be on for business and feel like it's our main way to keep in touch with friends/family near and far. And it can feel amazing for that. But it can also feel like the place where people aren't "real" and we are constantly keeping up with the Joneses

Here are some ways to help better develop our healthy business relationship with social media:

  1. Separate business and personal use of social media: When you are a business and need to be online for business, the lines between personal and social media blur very easily (I find this especially true with Facebook, feeling like managing my business account quickly leads down a personal account rabbit hole).
    But I think the more you can go onto social media as "this is a business mission" with the object to complete a task then leave, I think the more you can feel like you are in control. It also helps to not feel like it's all just one big social media blob sucking away at your time. 
  2. Decide to be happy with your social media: I am borrowing this idea from from Tara Swiger's post, but I think it's so healthy. You can both be happy with your social media right now and still know there are things that can be improved. Things can always be improved-- welcome to the fun of business! But that doesn't mean you can't be happy with where you are and the progress you've made.
  3. Know what's best for you and screw everything else: I'm being kinda extreme, but really, don't chase after every new social media or feel like you have to have a million followers on every platform. And most importantly, this will be different for every single business. If Facebook works for someone else but not for you... that does not mean you are failing at Facebook.

A Healthy Relationship with Online Selling Platforms

Oh man, I think we all know how I feel about this when it comes to Etsy in particular (as discussed here and here), but I think the platform itself is a distraction from the real issue. I feel like one of the main questions I get asked or see makers asking is "What OTHER platforms can I sell on?"

That's the wrong question. I think it's great to know what's out there, but you have to start at square one-- "What is my plan for a healthy business and where do the different selling platforms fit into MY plan?" You are the boss! You make all of that other stuff work for you-- they are like your employees in a way. Sometimes you will need to fire them or cut back their hours or promote them, but YOU are always in charge of them.

  1. Understand that you ultimately control how your business will sell its products: It doesn't matter that new rules come and go on various sites, it's your choice to stay or go-- to build where you want.  
  2. Be okay with growing up and out: I feel like this could be it's own blog post, but owning a business can feel very much like growing up. And sometimes growing up means leaving people or services or ways of doing things behind. That doesn't mean it's bad or terrible or that you can't even revisit it, it's just that things are different. Things have changed. And change can be weird.
    It's like how you look fondly back on college days and while you were in college you loved it (and hated it), but you knew it was never going to be your whole life. Dorms aren't adult life. That doesn't mean it's bad. It had its place. But now it's time to move on and grow.

A Healthy Relationship with Other Business Owners

  1. Embrace supportive peers as friends rather than competition: This one is hard and seems even harder in the current environment of many who are just out to copy others. So I definitely will underscore supportive. But there are people who are nearly doing the exact same thing is me that I value so much because they understand what it's like. Never let those people go (unless they turn into jerks ;)). Camaraderie over competition!
  2. Recognize we are all in different places for different reasons: Hard to do, but it can very easily feel like new people will burst onto the scene and be so much more "ahead" than us. Why aren't we experiencing that success when we've been at it longer? OR We judge people who aren't up to our exacting business standards.
    We've all lived our lives differently and decided to run businesses that essentially are products of how we choose to live. It's beautiful to me. And when I think about it that way instead of in some weird linear race to get to the top of Business Mountain, it makes me a much better human.
  3. Celebrate the accomplishments of peers: We are super committed to a peer-based awards show because there is nothing like being honored by the people who exactly get how hard what you do is. It also helps you to feel like "Hey, if they can do it, I can too!"
    And lastly, it gets your eyes off you for a bit. When you are running your own business, your brain is constantly in "Let's worry about us and our survival" mode. That's not healthy and you will begin to see mirages in the desert wasteland of introspection. So look up and out at your fellow maker-- high five them for what they are doing and you'll gain some perspective.   

A Healthy Relationship with "Failure"

If you are still running your business than you have not failed. And even if you run your business into the ground or hate it and leave it or or or or. I don't want to be too "woo" here, but I've really come to believe that failure does not exist unless we let it.

I know so many amazing businesses that are now built on the rubble of old ones. I know people who have given being their own boss a go and have said, "Hmmm, this actually is not for me" or "not for me as my full-time gig." 

I know embracing failure is the thing to do du jour, but there's good reason, especially for people who run their own businesses. I think it's even beyond embracing it-- it again goes back to ceasing to see life and business as a timed race with everyone getting the same milestones.   

A Healthy Relationship with New Technology/ Gizmos

There is nothing like the release of a new iPhone to make us all feel like we are behind in life. But in the age of planned obsolescence and fast fashion, we are especially made to feel behind at all times. And I totally feel your pain.

What is the way to combat this? I feel like it is the hardest and the simplest thing to do-- opt out of their timelines but don't reject new for the sake of rejecting new. Again, this is mostly just a decision to be happy but also know that you can improve.

I know that the current iPhone camera is a major upgrade than my current situation but I am happy with this phone. It's a better one than the last and the one before that. I've opted out of the race to newest and I'm on the track for "Gonna make improvements when it makes sense for my business."

Alright, it's your turn-- what business relationships do find need improving?   

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