Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
You’re here because you want a business transformation.
Sometimes a business transformation actually requires that you transform your life first.
So before we dig into the ONE easy question that will help you transform your business from the inside out, it’s time for a story.
It’s a frigid grey day in April.
The trees are bare – wind heaves against the four-story walk-up, clattering the windows.
Rain drizzles steadily.
My husband and I are sitting in the middle of our empty apartment, feeling a combination of excitement and terror.
It’s 2012, and we’ve just moved from Ecuador to Canada. My husband is Quiteño. That means he was born and bred in the capital of Ecuador. I’m a Vancouverite, born on the West Coast of Canada, but raised in a sunny valley known as the Okanagan.
My husband and I met in 2008, when we were 21 and 22, respectively. It was (actually!) love at first sight.
After four years, and a lot of tears, later I decided it was time for me to move back home. Jimmy, despite plenty of misgivings, agreed to come with me. We got married. Did the visa paperwork. And booked the plane tickets.
Now, here we were. In Canada. Together. Terrified.
We had no furniture. No jobs.
Jimmy didn’t speak English or have any friends and family here. He’d never visited an English-speaking country (or anywhere outside South America). He had no idea what he was getting himself into. Meanwhile, I felt like an outsider in my own city. I’d changed so much after living in South America for nearly five years, that nothing here made sense to me anymore.
It was a rough road. There were moments when both of us felt like giving up.
But now, eight years later, though we still live in the exact same apartment (because in Vancouver you don’t move unless you’ve been flooded), everything else in our lives has undergone a complete transformation.
But what does this have to do with your business and your life?
Well, I’ve learned something important recently.
Something that has the potential to transform everything you do.
Sometimes, as creative small business owners, we get stuck doing things the way we’ve always done them. We forget that transformation is the essence of life. Times change. You change. The world changes. Life is in constant motion. Nothing is static.
If you’ve been running your business the exact same way for a few years, and you’re feeling uninspired, there’s a solution. If you’re newer to business, but you find yourself experiencing waves of indecision or fear, there’s a solution.
Here’s the question you need to ask: IS THIS LOVE?
As you consider a new offering, a new business strategy, a new contract, ask yourself, “Is this love?”
Think about all the existing elements of your business, and ask yourself about each one, “Is this love?”
A lot of us have created products, offerings, systems, and routines that are built out of fear. When we get started with our small businesses, we’re terrified. We want everything to work out. We don’t want to be another failure statistic.
But if we run our businesses out of fear rather than love, then we eventually end up feeling stagnant.
Stuck. Our business will start to feel like work. All the time. Every day.
“Is this love?”
For the past year, I’ve been asking myself this one question about everything in my life.
When I got an invitation that I didn’t want to accept, I asked, “Is this love?” I had the opportunity to create an epic proposal for a big project, I asked, “Is this love?” When I was feeling too scared to start guest posting, I asked, “Is this love?”
This one question helped me get un-stuck. It helped me get out of my head and out of the cycle of fear. The results have been persuasive.
My business is doing better than ever, and I don’t feel overwhelmed.
- I have a more loving and joyful relationship with my husband.
- I feel like myself again.
- I’m not stuck or spinning my wheels.
I didn’t come up with this idea myself. Last year, around January, I read the book Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More by Courtney Carver.
Courtney’s story convinced me that this question needed to become an essential part of my decision-making process. It cuts through the clutter of fear and ego and gets to the heart of things. It finds the fact within a haze of fiction.
THE INCOME CEILING
As creative business owners, we often get stuck in a certain income bracket. We’re unable to grow or change our businesses. This is usually because we’re unwilling to embrace many of the basic tenets of marketing and sales.
We’re afraid of being perceived as sleazy, pushy, salesy, and annoying. Our fear begins to dictate our business practices.
One common area that creatives avoid is the dreaded newsletter. We don’t want to be pushy and ask for emails. We don’t want to be seen as annoying, so if even if we do manage to capture emails, we never contact our list of subscribers. Or we communicate so infrequently that we’re not actually building a relationship or being helpful.
“Everyone says a newsletter is important, but what would I send?”
“I know I should get people’s emails, but I don’t want to seem pushy.”
“I just don’t have time to write a newsletter. I’m already so busy!”
But what if we ask ourselves this question: “Is sending out emails to a list of interested customers LOVE?”
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to go ahead and do it! Even if you think you don’t have time or you’re afraid of being annoying, pushy, or salesy.
Apply this question to any area in your business that feels terrifying, uncertain, stuck, or uncomfortable. You’ll quickly be able to see the difference between your ego-driven business practices and the ones that are truly helpful, valuable, and coming from a place of love.
THE PROFIT TRAP
But what if something really profitable isn’t coming from a place of love?
Yup, that’s a tough one. But in the end, you either need to tweak the product or service until it’s coming from a place of love, or you need to get rid of it. In my video production business, I accidentally discovered a very profitable niche: wealth management firms. These companies have the income to easily pay for video production. They also typically have boring websites and need to differentiate themselves from other advisors by making a connection with clients and building a relationship as quickly as possible.
I could have gone down that ultra-niche path, and made a lot of money doing it. But every time I asked myself, “Is this love?” The answer was no.
It doesn’t mean I won’t ever produce a video for a financial advisor. But it does mean I’m not going to capitalize on the market and become a specialist in that niche. My mission is way bigger than that.
When I moved to Ecuador in 2008, I didn’t speak Spanish. I’d never traveled to another country by myself. I knew one person in Ecuador, an entirely unreliable ex-boyfriend who was four years younger than me.
Skills I’d built in Canada helped me to survive. But I had to throw myself into the experience and adapt at every turn. This experience changed me from the inside out. It gave me the gift of hard-won wisdom – the kind that comes from jumping off a cliff and hoping the landing will be soft. The kind that only comes from true transformation.
After eight years of living in Canada, Jimmy now speaks fluent English, has friends and a network, and has learned new skills that he never dreamed of developing.
This willingness to change, adapt, be flexible is something we often embrace in our personal lives, but when it comes to our businesses, we dig in our heels and stay the same. We remain stuck and suffer the consequences.
There’s only one reason we do this: fear.
This is the thing: if fear is keeping you stuck, then only love will set you free.
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About the Author
Hi! I’m Colette. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada.
I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you start gaining the knowledge you need.
If you want more then get on the waitlist for my solo filmmaking program. It opens up 1-2x per year.