My parents are hedonists. When I was young and serious (before I realised what a waste of a good time that was), I wished they were serious too. I was jealous of friends whose parents discussed politics or university courses or career choices with gravitas and thought. When my parents discussed those things, they didn’t give the impression that decisions on these would make-or-break everything that followed.
My parents are fantastic at celebrating, and not only within our family – many friends’ twenty-firsts, fortieths, fiftieths and weddings were celebrated in my parent’s home. Im proud to carry this tradition – four weeks after my first baby was born, I turned 30 and had a killer party. For the first four months of my daughter’s life, I baked cakes and we sang happy birthday on the date, until my partner protested that we were eating too much cake.
I see a lot of seriousness in business. And while persistence, tenacity and hard work are necessary, these are counterproductive when it’s at the expense of fun.
The basis of your business
Your business is a sum of the people it serves. Your business helps these people by making their lives more healthy, more vibrant, more joyful, as well as less painful, less stressful and less complicated.
Your community doesn’t just love you for what results you give them; they love you for how you do it – with joy, generosity and kindness. These attributes give your clients a reason to celebrate good health, simplicity, joy, serenity and peace-of-mind.
… And the rest
The day-to-day running of your business – including phone calls, updating your website and social media, managing staff (if you have them), answering inquiries, following up with people, keeping your workplace or shop orderly, and a thousand other things – takes up far more time than your modality, be that teaching a yoga or Pilates class, giving a massage, or consulting with your clients.
These day-to-day business tasks are often not fun. If they’re also draining, stressful and angst-ridden, these will eventually permeate the fun parts of your business and lessen your enthusiasm. Over time, you’ll lose your enjoyment of what you do – and your clients will notice and start looking elsewhere.
How to bring fun and celebration back into your business:
1. Remind yourself regularly why you do what you do
Understand the broader reason why you do what you do isn’t only useful for your marketing. It also reacquaints you with your passion and motivation for starting your business in the first place. Your ‘why’ is likely to change over time as your business progresses. Revisit it regularly – schedule it into your diary if necessary – to rediscover your bearings, sharpen your clarity, and realign your perspective.
2. Be generous
We often save our biggest discounts and most generous offers to attract new clients while neglecting our best clients – people who have often frequented our business for years, and brought their friends and family too.
Think of ten things you could do to celebrate and spoil your nearest and dearest clients as well as suppliers, ranging from taking them out to lunch, giving them a physical gift, writing them a testimonial for their business, or chucking a Christmas party or beach picnic.
3. Be surprising
You don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. Make joyful surprises part of your business strategy. This is only limited by your imagination. Surprises could be simple or a bit more complex. Whatever it is, making surprises part of your business will also help you surprise yourself – always a good thing.
4. Crown yourself Queen of Sovereign Success
When I first started working for myself, I had a to-do list a mile long that kept growing the more I researched, learnt and discovered. I kept this list in Microsoft Word and, rather than deleting the items as I did them, I copied and pasted each task to the bottom under the title “success”. Eventually, the success list became longer than the to-do list and, whenever I felt stuck or slow or disenchanted, I’d glance at my success list and feel better.
Your understanding of success has nothing to do with anyone else – it’s meaningful for you and you only. You can show yourself appreciation by treating yourself to a regular massage, chucking a deadline party, committing to seeing your best mates regularly, or taking a long bath – whatever works for you.
5. Invest in your business
It’s no fun trying to figure things out by yourself all the time – and becoming frustrated in the process. Investing in your business skills, such as through engaging a business coach will not only speed up your progress, but it’ll bring joy to those tasks that take up the most time in your business.
6. Stop waiting
What are you waiting for, exactly? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.) Whatever you really want to do – you should do that. Yes, it can be that simple, it’s likely just your mind that’s complicating things.
I wanted to give talks and training to business owners around Australia. One day I realised that I was waiting for the phone to ring and for somebody to invite me to do this – that was the day I started researching venues.
Whatever you’re waiting for – whether it’s to launch a new, premium service, try something different, meet someone you admire – you should just go ahead and do it. It can be as easy as sending an email. Not only does it give you an incredible buzz, it’s a celebration of yourself, that you are ready, and worthy, and able.
7. Forget the ‘rules’
Us homo sapiens are funny creatures. We seek security in conformity, and pressure those who don’t conform into joining the tribe and thus, staying safe. ‘Alternative’ subcultures do this just as well as mainstream culture, albeit with a different set of rules. We create a lot of self-imposed pressure when we seek to always please our tribe over being true to our beliefs, instincts and style.
When we give ourselves permission to keep stop watching everyone so closely, make up our own rules and do what we want in our business, not only do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors, attract our ideal clients, and start having more fun in our business, we also celebrate what we stand for, what we stand against, and who we crusade on behalf of.