I am celebrating five years in business today!
“I trust myself to make this work” is still my favorite business affirmation and I am excited for the next five years.
Working for myself has given me a lot of freedom, room for creativity, community, rest, inspiration and joy. Obviously it’s also given me a lot of headaches and challenges, but at the end of the day I have never regretted it.
I’ve recorded an episode sharing my biggest lessons – I talked about unlearning competition, having good boundaries, rethinking success, making time to work ON your business and listening to your body as a wise mentor. Enjoy!
Thanks for supporting my work, being here, listening and sharing and for making all this possible.
Listen to the Embodied Business Podcast
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⋒ Hi, my name is Yarrow.
My Embodied Business podcast explores what it means to build a livelihood with integrity, joy and anti capitalist values. I offer practical guidance on tech, strategy, ethical marketing, creativity and money and interview other small business owners who do things their own way.
You can learn more about my work, listen to other episodes or join my community at PinkWellStudio.com
You can also sign up for my newsletter - I offer free monthly Spark Sessions and share resources, ideas & new episodes about once per month over on Substack ⋒
Hey everyone, my name is Yarrow and you’re listening to either the DIY small business podcast, or the daily rewards podcast. I decided to publish this episode on both my podcast today because I have a bit of a special occasion. We’re celebrating five years in business and I want to reflect on and celebrate with you kind of share my favourite lesson. Because that feels like a good idea today. Hope you’re not hearing the wind too much. It’s really stormy in Scotland today. It just kind of romantic but I hope it doesn’t ruin the recording too much. I smell announcement before we started next Sunday on the eighth and then on the 29th. I’m running a small workshop series on memoir writing and the making started finally making things again last year, I wrote all kinds of things about becoming a country queer, about things that I learned on their coastal path here about grief and loss, a word has been about relationships. And they have a lot more in the making, including some on business stuff actually has one that I’m writing on leaving social media and questioning things and what that meant and what I was like. And then I have one on the body as a business mentor as well, that I’m really excited about. Anyway, so that’ll be Sunday, next week. And then on the 29th of March at 7pm. UK time. And that is free for Patreon. So if you’re interested in that you can become a patron and you can pledge $3 or more, you get access to all kinds of other stuff including the embodied magic archive, all my digital liens, recordings of the tower, the light in the dark has, you get monthly for montek ins with me 10% of mentoring. So all kinds of cool stuff. Check that out if you want to come to those workshops. But now I want to share with you some of the
most important things that I’ve learned over the five years, five years. And I want to begin by telling you really briefly kind of what the backstory of my business is. I have told that story many times before. So I’m really trying not to waffle too much here. But basically how years ago today, I took a big online training on building a business, and I couldn’t really afford it at the time I paid in instalments, one of which bounced, that was really embarrassing. And I learned a tonne. And I also learned a tonne of things that I didn’t actually want to do. And I became part of a community. It was how I met my first clients. And it’s how I kind of got to know myself as a small business owner, I guess. I had been a freelancer before for many years, and I had all kinds of business ideas, but I had never not been in employment as well. Or, yeah, I’ve never not not been in employment before. Basically, I just done an MA and Creative Media and I I knew I couldn’t carry on doing minimum wage freelance work without health insurance or sick pay. Rather, I did have health insurance but no sick pay. And I wanted to create more freedom and stability for myself, which sounds like such a weird phrase, you know, but I knew I wanted to work creatively, I wanted to teach myself something that I was excited about. And so when did this training, kind of having really vague ideas, I was not planning necessarily to come a web designer. But in that training, I saw lots of people around me really struggling with working web press out. And I knew that was super easy for me. I had built all kinds of websites and the front that really fun. So I was like, Hey, this is maybe a cool idea. And I really started out trying to meet my most most basic needs first. And that’s kind of also leading me to my first big lesson that I’ve learned is that it’s super valid and important and essential actually, to really think about what your basic needs are first in business and to make sure that they’re consistently being met. Because anything else is just causing us anxiety, it’s limiting our creativity. And it’s making life really hard. And there’s no shame in that. You know, I think too often we hear about these rags to riches stories in business. And we think, well, if this person can do it, I should be able to do it. But actually, we have very different backgrounds. We have different levels of access to resources and guidance and time and investments. And so our journeys are really not comparable at all. And it’s important that we think about the basic income that we need in order to feel safe or things like health insurance, housing, access to food. And if we can’t sustainably sustainably meet these needs, that’s going to make our business journey really hard. And we have to remember that very likely. That is not all for the structural issues at play does sometimes make that hard for us and we definitely deserve those things and we deserve space and time to figure out how we can meet those needs. Get the meat with get them met with support from other people and communities. So, yeah, so coming back to the story of my business. So in my first year after doing that training, I saw that revenues I was something that I really enjoyed and was pretty easy to market because so many people were struggling and didn’t really feel like doing it themselves. And so I highly underpriced myself in the beginning. And I found my few first few clients, but my portfolio, taught myself a time spend lots and lots of sleepless nights, figuring tech stuff out, learning about colour theory and graphic design and other kinds of things. And eventually, I kind of felt comforted them to say, yeah, I’m a web designer. This is really what I love doing. And it grew from there. And then I noticed that lots and lots of people were approaching me with other type problems, like, how do I integrate my newsletter? Or how do I said social media scheduling up. And I began offering hourly tech support, which was really also super fun to do. And it really just came to go organically. And then I realised that on my website, I still had a lot of old personal writing, had been blogging since I was a teenager, which is more than 15 years now. Oh, my God. And so I had these old personal pieces on that. And the more that I really saw my, my business and myself as providing web design, and tech support or design support, the lesson felt kind of sensible to have that kind of old writing on that as well. So I created a new blog called Daedra walls, which was initially really just for me to express my thoughts about life,
some of which feel really awkward and cringy to me now. So they’re hidden, but a little bit into doing that maybe half a year. So I started podcasting, because writing kind of suddenly became a little bit stale. And I wasn’t excited about blogging so much anymore, I wanted to start podcasting. And in the beginning, I really thought I was just going to be me talking about stuff that was presently on my mind. And then I started inviting people and it grew really quickly from there. And so Daydream Rose is its own beautiful space. Now it’s a community of people, it’s connected to a Patreon, I offer all kinds of programmes and workshops. And I think it’s also become a place in which I really share my body work trainings, and my journaling practices, the way I incorporate, which will into my life, the way I think about community and self care, all those kinds of things live on there. And I’m really grateful to have two businesses that feel very connected and similar in the values that underpin them. But that are in terms of the work itself a very different and that feels super refreshing to me. So that’s the story. I towards the Yeah, I think the fourth, the third and fourth year of running my web design agency, I started being approached more and more by people who wanted business mentoring. And that kind of snuck into this hourly retainer work that I was offering. Like, initially, it was tech consultation. And then we talked more and more about the bigger picture and how that was all fitting together. So eventually, I kind of became an accidentally an accidental business mentor. I have always had conflicting feelings about that professional said in the industry as a whole, the kind of messages that are very prevalent within business mentoring. But then also it felt really like it was coming together very radically. And I felt that I stood behind what I was offering and how I was supporting people. So that’s what I do as well now. So yeah, that’s the backstory. And now finally, let’s get to live. So like I already said, the first big thing that I learned is really, that it’s so important to get our basic needs first met before we think about expansion and creativity and burning community, really to get super clear what we need, what feels sustainable, and maybe even regenerative. So when we think about the minimum income that we need to make. For example, maybe we need to ask ourselves if we need access to things like therapy as well, or being flexible a while working time. So it’s not just about money. It’s also making space for the things that we know, we need in order to be able to do the work that we want to do and and know obviously for some of us, therapy is a big luxury. It’s not easily available to all of us. And it’s just one of the one example of the things that we might be needing. But I think it is important that we ask ourselves that question without shame. The next lesson that I learned is that our learning competition and comparison is really an ongoing process. And it’s so important. I think if I could name one thing other than anxiety about money that has really strain me in the first two years and what I was doing is comparing my Myself and not understanding that our journeys are not comparable, that we have different backs of backgrounds and privileges and access to different things. And that, therefore is impossible to say for me that I am behind or not good enough. Because it’s so unique, you know. And I think it’s also easier said than done, I think it’s totally normal, especially in the beginning to look around yourself and see our data like, this is something I would really like to have for myself. And I wonder why I’m not there yet. Or I wonder why I can’t have that yet. I think that’s super
human as well. And I’m inviting everyone to be gentle around that as well. The next thing I learned is that we really need intimate relationships. So not just people that we follow on Instagram, and sometimes maybe comment on each other’s posts with, but people that really opt for witnessing our journey and are committed to being an in communication and in mutual support and solidarity. I’m part of an informal mastermind, for example, that’s been running for over two years. And I really appreciate that so much, because we have seen each other through so much, and we know each other quite well. And that’s really beautiful and super valuable to me. And it doesn’t have to cost any money. I have another episode on the DIY business podcast on forming a mastermind and what to think about and why it’s so valuable if you’re interested in that. But I really think that we thrive in relationships. And I think there’s a lot of stuff around office politics and professionalism, that’s really hard for me to navigate when I was an employment, and I thought working relationships would always be hard. And that friendship really didn’t really have a place in that world, which I now feel so terrible about. Because I am friends with really good, you know, really good friends with other business owners. And that’s really important to me, because I need people in my life that really understand what it’s like that can share my frustrations and wins. And that are having similar values and interests. So yeah, find those people and really try to reach out to them. And also think about what a relationship like that could look like. And it doesn’t have to look any particular way, maybe you’re just sending each other voice messages every now and then maybe have a zoom call once a month. But it’s really important to have business friendships. The next thing feels really common sense to share and a bit self conscious about that. But I think we really need to rethink success. And what I mean by that is obviously that there are even in the alternative world of small businesses on Instagram, there are certain stories about what success is. And that could be, you make six figures, but it could also be, you’re successful when you’re a skinny wide, sis woman, having a healing practice. And having 10,000 followers, you know, just to give you an example. And I think, again, it’s a human to be influenced by those things, because they are very much in our collective consciousness. But I really think that so much peace and grounding and stability. And self trust comes from knowing what success actually means to as uniquely and individually. And so I also think that that has to do with so many other things that are not related to money. And money, obviously, is a big part of that. Again, we want to make sure that our basic needs are consistently met, maybe we want to have some room for expansion and stability and healing around money as well. But we probably will also want to things like seeing change in the people that we work with knowing that we are creating something that makes people happy, or that makes their life a little bit easier. Maybe we want to alleviate suffering in some way. We want to receive feedback, we want to inspire people. For me, success is very much about freedom as well, I want to have time with my dogs at the beach every day, I want to be able to nap and take time off when I need to really want to be able to be myself as well. I want to feel that I don’t have to perform in any particular way on Instagram on my podcast, wherever really. And that feels like a really important part of Success to me. So if for example, I knew there was a way to make six figures by doing a certain thing that isn’t truly myself, then that really wouldn’t feel like Success to me. And the next thing I learned is that boundaries really are super important, which is a bit of a jump in topic, but I just really see that this again, again, I think it’s super important that we communicate clearly what we’re offering and what we’re expecting from people in exchange that we make very clear agreements, because everything else is just leading to resentment and that stifling our creativity. I noticed feeling in my body that when I feel resentful about a working relationship I have with someone, it just ruins a lot that I’m doing. And it doesn’t feel good. And I think in the beginning, I was often offering discounts that I didn’t actually feel good about or
compromise that lines in some way, work weekends, because I knew some that someone needed to get something done really quickly, when actually, they could have contacted me a few weeks earlier. That kind of stuff. And it’s just not sustainable is not good. Don’t do it, if you can avoid it. And really making that a priority to know your own boundaries, and then making sure that they’re being respected as well, is going to support your creativity so much, I think. I think, yeah, the next thing I want to touch on is that I think it’s really important to make time to work on your business rather than in it. And what I mean by that is that working in your business, in my case, for example, that means doing client work, sorting tech solutions out designing stuff, working on my business is sitting down, checking in with myself about the bigger picture vision. It’s stuff like updating my website copy. Thinking about the kinds of support, I need the things that I want to learn the goals that I’m setting for myself for the next quarter. And it’s really important to consciously create time, boundary time in your calendar for that. And I think some mistakes that I’ve made, especially in the beginning was like, scheduling time to work on my business and my calendar, but always letting that be the first thing to go when things got hectic. And it meant that I sometimes fell out of touch with my bigger picture, vision and my why and that’s not sustainable. I really see that people in the DIY business community who show up for the live calls consistently. And make that space for reflection on business journey staff with other people feel so much better about what they’re doing and have so much more clarity and resilience for difficulty as well. And so that’s something I really recommend prioritising. taking breaks, I think is also really, really important. I’ve been off social media for six months, I’ve recently come back, and I really enjoyed that. And I will record a whole other episode on that. But basically, I really feel like I needed to prove to myself that I didn’t need to be on social media in order to have a business. That was really important for me to understand. I also felt that this the time that I saved the half year, I’ve poured into lots of other ways of creatively expressing myself. And that I am back, I feel a little bit more courageous around sharing controversial stuff. And being a bit opinionated, which, you know, like, obviously, I have shared opinions before but just see and really being in that experience that my business didn’t collapse, just because I wasn’t an Instagram gave me more confidence and just telling the truth. And there was something really important that I needed to do for myself. And then finally, I’m learning at the moment that your body really can be the best business mentor, I have a whole posters on that on Instagram that you can check out as more to come in the next week. But basically, I work with someone who have no reserve of sticker core body calm. And in that mentoring relationship, I really kind of learned to lean into my own body as a source of guidance and inspiration. I think in moments of contraction in business, we often have this urge, or I have that a lot. And I know that other people have it too. I don’t know if that’s the case for you. But sometimes there’s this emptiness inside, we’re like, oh my gosh, this is so hard, I have to make so many decisions every day. And I just have this decision making fatigue, and I can’t hear my inner voice anymore, because I’m on social media. And there’s all this shouting, and I don’t know what’s right for me anymore. And also, I’m holding space for other people all the time, which is beautiful. But it’s also really creating a need in me to be held by other people and do and to be in someone else’s container. And so I think I’ve sometimes waste for mentoring, or bought programmes out of that kind of insecurity. And that hasn’t always worked because no one really at the end of the day can tell you what to do. That’s not how I have you. My working relationship, my business mentoring clients at all, like what I believe I do is hold space for them to explore what might or might not work for them. And I share resources and support and inspiration of course, but at the end of day, we have to make our own decisions and know what’s right for us. There is no pure blueprint, which is heartbreaking. I know. I wish I wish there was sometimes but there isn’t. And so what I’ve learned really, is to listen to my body more when I think back to where I was exactly 10 years ago. I was 24
and we’re Working in Berlin as an HR manager full time for an ecommerce data, but also studying for distance to be full time and I burned out. I was written off work, sick by my doctor for several weeks, and I cried a tonne, I was in a really difficult time because I thought I had done everything right, I had progressed so quickly. Within that company, I was studying something I really wanted to study, which was creative writing, and social science. And, and I was so unbelievably exhausted because I wasn’t listening to my body at all. And of course, my body would have taught me that working full time and studying full time isn’t working. And my body is telling me so many other things. It’s also telling me that truth telling and marketing is really important. Or that I have to question what professionalism means to me and how I express myself. Or it’s telling me that I need to prioritise time for rest and reflection, and that I really actually value cyclical living and business making. And that contraction is very much a part of having a business as well. And I want to build my resilience and my appreciation for downtime as well. So I think there’s so much to learn from our bodies, and I feed them really, as this beautiful resource that’s so unique to us. So they stepping away from thinking that there’s this one solution, or this one secret answer that everyone has, that maybe you don’t know yet, but instead knowing that that’s not a thing. And actually, there’s so much wisdom in our bodies related to what we need, how we can express ourselves, what might be sustainable and regenerative and healing for us. So this is where I’m going to end. I really appreciate you listening so much. I hope you got something out of this too. Again, I’m so grateful that I got to five years I feel that my favourite business affirmation now is still I trust myself to make this work. I trust myself to make this work. I trust myself to make this work. I hope you feel the same and that we get to work together in some way in the future. Looking forward to see you on Instagram. I would love to hear your feedback. She liked this episode, please share it with your friends and again. Thank you so much