Monday, April 5, 2010

Dealing with Clients (and not taking it personally...)

"Time to Go" by Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes

Life as a business owner/wife/mother/daughter/sister is complex. When a client in any of the aforementioned categories becomes difficult, it's hard to not let it overwhelm your day (not that any of us would ever dare complain about our mothers...). In keeping with the "when it rains, it pours" adage, every business owner will, at one point or another, experience those days where she feels she can do nothing right. Every client has a problem, question, or concern and each of those concerns can feel like a personal attack.

Take a deep breath.

They are not out to sabotage you, make your life miserable, or toy with your emotions. They have no idea that twelve other people have chosen this very day to change their minds, complain, or have an emergency that you need to fix. They are simply looking for a receptive ear and a creative mind to help them cross their hurdle. Often you'll learn something of value from taking a moment and listening, rather than preparing your own response while they are still speaking.

Still feel like you're slowly going insane? Before you decide to pack your bags and run away from the business world forever, take a minute and vent to a fellow Stella and Mimi member: no doubt she's having the same kind of day you are. Tell her all the things you wish you could say to your troublesome client, and have a good laugh. Stealing a piece of chocolate from your kids' Easter basket always helps too...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Run Your Business Like a Girl

After I shot this photograph and shared the story behind the picture on my artist blog, I decided this image probably resonates well with all of us in Stella and Mimi. I don't doubt that every one of us has been subject to similar events and stories as the one I shared. I don't doubt that, even as adults, we will continue to face situations where we are stereotyped based on our gender, race, and, for many of us, our role as mothers. For some reason - mothers or not - women who run their own small businesses tend not to be taken as seriously. If you don't agree, think about how many times a day your phone rings for non-business purposes. Think about how many of your friends expect you to be available at all hours of the day for play-dates, shopping trips, etc. Think about how irritated your husband would be if his mother and his friends called him at work as often as yours call you.

Certainly we don't want to shut our friends and family out of our lives, so what is the answer? Set boundaries and keep them. Only answer the house phone during certain hours, only make yourself available for non-work-related gatherings during certain times of the week. The way you value your time, your image, and your business is the only way others will learn to value you. We do run our businesses a little differently because we are women, and we are part of a larger network of people who depend on us: we are the rememberers-of-birthdays, the on-call-counselors for our best friends, the takers-of-the-dogs-to-the-vet. And that's okay. But don't let that dependent network overwhelm you and inadvertently sabotage your business. Perhaps the words above should read "You run your business like a girl." And you bet my response would still be, "thanks!"

Friday, February 5, 2010

The SAMED (Stella and Mimi Educational Dictionary)

Whoring (v.) - Prostituting one's personal talents to others
"She spent all day whoring her artwork to local galleries."

not to be confused with

Pimping (v.) - Presenting others with a fabulous completed package they cannot refuse
"I pimped our book out to two major companies today: expect offers shortly."