One of the words I’ve been trying to live by lately is CURATE.
After reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown (I highly recommend it), I wanted to frame the next chapter of my life and business with this notion of “thoughtful reduction” -- or the pursuit of less but better things.
The first few years of Made Vibrant were an important period of exploration and discovery for me, expanding my projects to include offerings under all three pillars of the MV mission:
- creative growth (ie. Better Lettering Course and my #AbstractAffirmationsDaily art prints];
- business growth (ie. Better Branding Course and Make Money Making];
- personal growth (ie. Connecting With Your Core and Color Your Soul).
These are all areas that I’m passionate about, and it felt amazing to see my business broaden throughout 2015 to serve all three pieces of my mission.
However, I’d be lying if I said that managing this many projects at once wasn’t a little bit taxing. By the end of the year I was starting to feel like I had planted all kinds of promising seeds without really taking the time or energy needed to help them grow to their potential.
While I still strongly stand behind the symbiotic, collaborative relationship between these three ingredients of creativity, business and personal growth (living my most vibrant life has certainly relied equally on all three), it became clear to me that serving all three properly would require a different approach.
In more metaphorical terms… I started to feel like it was time to take a break from planting seeds in order to properly cultivate my crops. To give each one the nourishment it deserved to really thrive.
Just as I was contemplating all of this, a few weeks ago I heard something that led me to think about this strategy in an even more meaningful way, which is really the lesson I want to share with you guys this week.
I was watching a live workshop with Marie Forleo where she discussed trimming back her business offerings to focus on her one signature program, B-school. In explaining this decision, Marie said something that really hit home with me. She said her gut was telling her to make an intentional choice to go deeper, not necessarily wider.
When I sat back and thought of my own business in these terms, I realized that my gut was telling me the same thing.
It’s no secret to most of you that ‘deeper’ is kind of my jam. As an INFJ, I love less but more meaningful friendships. I love digging into complex problems and peeling back a more profound understanding layer after layer. I love diving deeper and deeper into my own emotional and psychological worlds to get to know myself better.
But, despite knowing this about myself, something had been holding me back from incorporating this concept into my business. So I thought:
Why in the world do I struggle with wanting to dive deeper into my own business? Why do I feel resistance to doubling-down on my own programs like Marie mentioned?
That’s when it occurred to me that perhaps my business/emotional needs weren’t totally lining up with my creative needs.
From a creative perspective, I find that going WIDER not deeper is always my instinct. When that spark of inspiration hits, my creativity can’t help but want to follow it, and this often leads me in many different directions.
I’m aware this is not a particularly unique problem for creative people. So many of us find ourselves at some point or another with a wild case of Shiny Object Syndrome, bouncing from one project to the next because the novelty excites us.
For the past two years, this is the instinct I’ve been leaning into -- the allure of developing new projects, new services, new offerings in an effort to expand my business. And I think I know why.
For one thing, it feels natural. As humans we’re wired to want bigger and better and more, and so it’s instinctive for us to always ask ourselves What’s next?
Sometimes this also comes from a place of wanting to meet the expectations of those around us. I’m not just talking about our friends and family (feeling a need to have something to say when they ask “What’s new with the business?”) but also from the audience we’re building. I know I’ve thought on more than one occasion that I want to keep giving you guys new and exciting things to look forward to, and I’m sure this pressure to keep going wider is tied to that.
Lastly, and let’s just be honest here, new things are FUN! Everybody loves the beginning of a project when ideas are flying, possibilities are abounding, and you get to start molding that shapeless hunk of clay before you into something that resembles your vision. You know what’s NOT as fun? Following through. Pushing past challenges. Dusting off that project that has lost its shine and breathing new life into it again.
BUT, this is when I have to put my business hat back on.
Working on something that’s not necessarily as FUN might actually be what your business needs.
For instance, I’ll let you in on a little secret here: my Better Branding Course was the project that brought in the most revenue for me in 2015 (48% of my revenue to be exact). It was also the program I spent the most time and effort developing, AND it still remains the project I’ve gotten the most positive feedback on in terms of the benefits my students have experienced.
AND YET... it’s the one program that has sat dormant, just begging for my attention for the past four months.
Why? Honestly just because my creativity got bored with it.
Now, I’m all for letting creativity steer the ship most of the time, but I’ve also been at this business thing long enough to know that our creativity only has the freedom and flexibility to do its thing if our businesses are profitable enough to allow us plenty of room to play.
And our businesses will only remain profitable if we make smart decisions about where to invest our efforts.
Once I realized that, I started fighting my urge to keep making NEW things, and instead I thought about how I could reinvest my time and energy into improving things that were already working.
This means making decisions like: creating blog content and resources for new customers to find Better Branding Course and Better Lettering Course. Or teaming up with my husband Jason on BuyOurFuture, which gives you lifetime access to all our combined 35+ projects for one price.
So, as I cozy up to this new approach of going deeper, not necessarily wider…
Your challenge this week is to ask yourself: is it time to cast a deeper net with your business instead of a wider one?
If you’re still in the beginning phases of your business, you may very well want to stay in that exploration mode and cast a wide net. I’m all for that.
BUT, if you’re a year or two in and you’re starting to resist being pulled in too many directions, consider that it might be time to deepen your net for a while. To reinvest in what’s working in your business. To quit planting seeds for a time in order to see what you can really make grow.
Going deeper, not wider, allows you to uncover the true potential of your ideas.
Even if it means fighting your instinct to follow the shiny objects, consider the good you might be able to do (for your audience and your business) if you double-down on the projects that you’ve only yet to scratch the surface with.
Have an awesome week!