When you decide to start up your own business, as I have done, with a big “leap of faith” and relatively little in the way of planning (or funds) it’s likely you’re going to need a little help along the way. And it has to be said, so far in this journey, people have been really rather amazing. I mean, I always knew people were rather special, but in the last few weeks, I’ve been so humbled by just how lovely people are and by how many people want to help and see me succeed. And that help has come in many different forms, whether it’s been to shout me a coffee or lunch or dinner, or refer me to an awesome contact or to give me time in a busy diary to listen and answer questions or to refer a client (or to be a client!) or to send me a link to something which might help or simply to check-in and ask how things are going or to tell me I’m doing a great job or to say that I’m inspiring them, or…wait for this one, it’s a biggie…to offer to build my website for FREE, all of these things have mattered & meant so much in what has been a surprisingly busy and eye opening couple of weeks.
But…you knew there was a but!... accepting offers of help, or gifts, or compliments is, until relatively recently, something which I’ve found pretty difficult. And, it still is. But (another but!) it’s something I’m working on getting better at. And as you read & follow more of my blog you’ll see that as I learn in business I’m also learning a lot about me. SO much about me. In fact, I’m sharing more of the personal journey in the blog than I thought I would. Actually, to be honest, I didn’t really think about the blog content. As I mentioned in that very first post – which seems like a lifetime ago now! – I simply felt compelled to write and as I continue to feel compelled to write, I sit down at my desk (which I should add – for anyone who may be looking to this blog for some / any kind of Interior related content!?- is a beautiful unique hand-made trestle table by the very talented Richie Tipene) open the Mac and off I go. No plan, no post-it note frenzy, no ‘must-have’ key points I want to include. Just a pretty vague idea of a topic and from there I start to type.
Younger versions of me put a lot of value on independence. Look after yourself. Be strong. No weakness here. I believed needing help from someone meant being a burden on them, or that taking something from someone meant they would have to go without. In focusing on the other person, I presupposed I was taking something from them that they didn’t want to give & that, as a result, the experience was in some way negative for them. And if you can see a similar trait in yourself you’ll be able to identify a similar cycle of events. Someone offers you something, perhaps unexpectedly. You go through all the “no’s!” the “I can’t possibly accept” arms everywhere, flapping around, pushing away “keep it for yourself” “you have it” but they persist and so eventually you’re forced (you’re not forced at all but that’s how it might feel) to drop the resit and you switch to the “are you sure’s”… “really, are you sure though?”… “No but, are you REEEALLY sure?” then eventually accepting under stress and probably feeling a little (to a lot) sh!tty about. Promising to repay them in some ridiculous unbalanced fashion and then running an internal script along the lines of ‘What does this mean?’ ‘Did they really mean it…:?’ ‘How can I reciprocate?…’ ‘I mustn’t forget that I owe them for that…’ I know, just reading it is exhausting. And if you’re someone for whom receiving comes easily you’re probably thinking “Really? Seriously? Wow, CHILL OUT!”
And of course it isn’t always such a big song and dance but even if it’s not as dramatic it can still come with a level of discomfort. Even for a coffee! And again, a similar sense of awkwardness can occur for non tangibles like kind words. Not exactly something someone is going to run out of is it? Yet, when it comes to compliments and words of encouragement, for some of us, these too can be difficult to receive and I know in the past the temptation by me would always be to downplay them or to somehow try to negate them with a “thank you…but…<insert negative comment>”. Or a screwed up face and a dismissive shake of the head. I noticed myself doing this recently when people would compliment me on my bravery of stepping out on my own. I’d hear myself downplay it rather than simply and gracefully accepting the compliment. Interesting isn’t it, given the validation that I’ve mentioned seeking before? Told you! I’m learning so much about myself!.
So, what about if we simply accept ourselves as seen by others (knowing that they are really just seeing them self) and just say “thank you”? No BUT… needed. In the same way I’ve noticed a sense of unease around receiving, I can also notice I’ve always loved giving. For me, it’s felt easier and a waay more enjoyable activity. I love that feeling you get when you see something in a store and you instantly know it’s just perfect for someone special in your life. It doesn’t matter what the price tag says, they have to have it. You’re so excited at the thought of gifting it to them. Both because you know how much they’ll love it but also because you know how great you’ll feel through the process of giving. But, hang on, with this in mind, we can switch it around and recognise that by receiving we can be just as generous as we are when we are giving. It doesn’t need to be perceived as taking, instead see it as offering someone else the enjoyment of giving. This was a bit of an A-HA moment for me. And if any of this is resonating with you, definitely have a play with that concept because it goes a long way toward making accepting gifts or compliments a much more enjoyable experience.
People do tend to offer to do things because they genuinely want to help too. That genuine offer of help brings them joy. No need for you to feel guilt or shame. It’s the same joy you get through giving to someone, the other person is simply looking for that same feeling. And consider this; by saying no to someone when they offer help, we’re denying them that opportunity to receive the enjoyment of giving. So, I’m currently practicing saying ‘thank you’. No stubborn Laura, no little miss independence, no questioning what it means, just gratefully accepting. And there has been lots of opportunities to practice because as mentioned at the start of this post, people are being rather epic and supportive and I’ve had a lot of thank you’s to hand out.
So, receiving in business and in my personal life is something I’m practicing. And we know starting a Small Business can be tough but we should also know it’s ok to ask for help in the same way that it’s ok to accept help. It’s not a bad thing to feel vulnerable. Opening ourselves up to accepting what it is that we need will help bring more of that stuff we need. After all, what we resit persists! This week I went to see a wealth coach. Relax guys, it was a free session. But, I will return. Why? Because it’s important to also accept paid help where help is needed. We’ve already established I’m not a numbers girl and so I’m willing to pay someone to help me nail my pricing strategy and budget from the start. It’s an investment in the future success of my business. At a basis level we worked out how much I need to survive on a weekly basis and that’s something that I was avoiding (or resisting!) doing on my own. I needed help. I asked for it. I got it. It was also brought to my awareness that I spend double what the average Australian spends on groceries in a week. The Macadamia milk might have to go…noooooooo.
Similarly, when I went to open up my business bank account this week (With $7…in silver…seriously!) I asked so many questions, I wanted to fully understand. And it didn’t matter to me that in doing so it made me look vulnerable, the bank staff seemed genuinely interested to hear my story and really keen to help. It’s ok to be vulnerable and I think that applies to business too. It’s ok to admit you need help or you don’t understand something. And I think it’s important to build those relationships with the people that are going to be able to help you by being open and honest and saying “you might need to help me here…”. I know it’s going to be hard because everyone I meet that runs or has run a small business tells me it’s hard. But that honesty is welcomed. I love that people will openly share their stories of success and their stories of failure and through those shared stories, and our own realities, we learn. I’m sure through the process I will learn some things that at some point in the future will help someone else who’s going through a similar process. Accepting it’s going to be difficult but deciding it’s still worth doing, is what makes me want to push on. Nobody said it was going to be easy, just accept the challenges as lessons and move on. Oh also on the business bank account, when the debit card came complete with my business name imprinted on it, well that was a bit of a weekly highlight. It’s all feeling real! I had a celebratory cup of Macadamia milk to mark the occasion,
I also want to say, I’m very much looking forward to the day when I can hold a big a celebratory bash to thank everyone who’s has played, is playing, or will play a part in helping get my business off the ground. Champers all round. I’ve accepted it’s OK that I can’t pay people back right now in this moment, because they trust that I will and I will. People love to help and it’s nice to let them in, to let them be there for you. And this has included my parent and friends that go way back but also new friends and amazing new contacts who seem to be coming into my life lately, at just the right time, and are as equally keen to help and support me. What I’ve also loved discovering in the last few (early) weeks of business is a whole lot of small business love for small businesses. Forgive me while I sounds wee bit corporate here but there is so much collaboration going on and I love it! Rather than money being transferred, skills become the currency and knowledge sharing is a big part of that too. It’s amazing what’s shared over a caramel Machiatto in those aforementioned hipster cafes from blog#2!
So, by way of wrapping up, if someone compliments you today, just try saying thank you. Received it. Accept it. Be happy. Friday was #internationaldayofhappiness so I say, what better reason to simply remember to be grateful for all that we have this weekend and the coming week.
If you have enjoyed this blog post and would like to donate to the PAY LAURA’S RENT FUND please click >here< to be taken to the donations page where your donation will be gratefully received…Kidding guys, imagine! Ha. I’ll always have the bad jokes.
Have a very happy week and may you receive lots of lovely things.