Taking the “DIY” Out of Business

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 in Business | 2 comments

I’ll write a round-up post about Craftcation soon (it will be filled with love, for the conference was amazeballs), but my friend Isaac Watson just posted a link to a piece that hits on a topic I would have buried in that post, and it deserves to be front and centre, so here we are.

I taught my favourite class on Saturday, to a room full of fabulous students. The class is called Embracing the Ugly Side of Your Business, and it’s about taking a long look at the things that nag us, terrify us, and subtly or dramatically hold us back in business.

Actually, to say I “teach” the class is a misnomer. Because what I really do in this class is facilitate a conversation that allows the students in the room to help each other. And boy howdy, did my Craftcation students step up. They were open, honest, encouraging and generous.

Because so much of this class involves open discussion, no two sessions are ever the same. But one topic inevitably comes up in a room full of creative businesspeople, and it’s my goal as the “teacher” not to be the one to bring it up first, because it’s advice best given by someone else.

And that advice is to hire someone to do that nagging, terrifying thing for you (or at least to do one of the nagging, terrifying things). Because though many of us are nagged and terrified by generalized feelings of self doubt and fear of failure, most of us are also nagged by doubts related to our ability to do one or several specific tasks that are required to run a business.

Go read that essay I linked to above, if you haven’t already.

As businesspeople, we cannot  be successful without help. We just can’t. None of us is ace at all the tasks we need to accomplish to run our businesses. None of us, so stop planning the angry email you’re composing to me in your mind in which you’ll tell me you’re a skilled accountant, graphic designer, publicist, marketer, product designer, manufacturer, writer, editor and salesperson. If you think that, you’re full of shit.

When someone in my class raises her hand and says, “Have you considered hiring a bookkeeper? I did that, and it was the best money I ever spent,” I go home happy. Because when that simple statement is released into the room, a collective sigh of relief is exhaled. Everyone has thus been given permission to spend money to solve a problem. And they have been assured the money will be well spent. And then various people around the room start nodding and mumbling about the graphic designer they hired to design their packaging or the friends they pay to work huge craft shows with them, etc.

When Abby Glassenberg hired me to edit her ebook last year, it wasn’t her glowing praise that made me superduper happy after she launched the book (though of course that made me happy), it was that she wrote on her blog that she made my fee back in the first five hours the book was on sale.

We are makers, crafters, artists, DIYers, but in business, we can not and should not go it alone.