I've been running the Nicole Joelle Print Shop for over a year now (plus, I had a few little etsy shop adventures pre-print shop days), and during this past year, I have felt the sting of discouragement a number of times. I truly love that I get to spend time designing, dreaming, and creating happy + inspirational prints. But, as a creative business owner, I think that it's fairly common and normal to feel discouraged sometimes during the process.
Maybe there are a number of you who are in the same boat--you love what you do, but you still feel discouraged sometimes. Maybe you wonder if you're using your time well, or if anyone will ever buy your product, or if you are creative enough.
This post is for you. And for me.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what triggers those discouraging moments. Here are my top 3 discouragement triggers:
1. Slow sales or movement forward in numbers or small goals
2. Looking at other creatives and feeling overwhelmed by their talent or overall business success
3. Lack of creative energy to come up with fresh ideas and new content
So, how do I move out of that crummy feeling of disappointment or discouragement? How do I use it instead of ignore or sit in it?
Here's what I've found to be helpful responses and ways to combat discouragement.
1. Instead of focusing on the small numbers, go back to the big goals of your business.
For example, my goals are to use the profit from my shop to pay of student loan debt and be an avenue of giving. When I feel discouraged because my sales haven't been as good as I anticipated, I ask myself if my business is still meeting the big goals. 9 times of of 10 it is--that's what I have to focus on because my big goals are my #1 reason to keep at it. Also, I have used the slow seasons to tidy up my shop, try out new marketing strategies, or use that extra time to focus on new projects.
2. Think collaboration, not comparison. Think encouragement, not envy.
Honest talk: comparison is the number one reason why I start to feel discouraged as a creative business owner. It is so easy to look around and see 100 people doing it better than you or 100 people succeeding more. It helps me to remember that encouragement and collaboration are free. It does not cost me anything to reach out to another business owner and ask questions (they may not answer, but I can still ask!) And it doesn't cost me anything to celebrate the success of someone else. Also, I have realized how much I can learn from successful business owners if I am willing to observe, rather than just sit there and feel overwhelmed and intimated. Most importantly, remember that you are unique and your gifts are too.
3. Creativity and fresh ideas are cultivated, not just reaped.
Whenever I am in a big, seemingly insurmountable creative rut, I'm quick to feel frustrated and discouraged. It's also tempting to look around and just grab what someone else is doing and do a twist of that. So, the idea that creativity is cultivated, not just reaped, has centered me many times. I have seen over and over while creating and designing for the shop that my creativity has rhythm. There are times when it is just plain dry. And there are times when I have too many ideas! So, when I get discouraged by lack of creativity, I just remind myself that I'm in a season of tending to the ideas that I already have and waiting for the next set of ideas to pop up.
There you have it. Using these 3 discouragement-buster moves has not only helped me out of ruts of discouragement, but they have also been useful tools for moving forward, growing, and learning as small shop owner.
If you are a creative business owner (blogger, handmade shop owner, entrepreneur, etc), what trick do you use to combat discouragement? I'd love to add some more discouragement-fighting weapons to my list :)