The Business Chat – Hats!

Oh boy, today we’re doing something fun, we’re putting on hats! When you are one person running your own company you wear SO many hats it’s hard o keep track. There are however 3 primary hats you wear. For every business step you take you need to put on one of these hats.

First and most important is your BOSS hat. Call it whatever you like, Boss, Employer, Head Honcho, Big Cheese or Grand Poobah, this hat means that you are running the show. It is your company therefore you make the decisions. When faced with a choice it is you who has to research the possibilities, weigh out each option and then decide what to do. No one else is in control of your little empire except you.

When I lead my Micro Business workshops I am routinely asked questions such as: “when can I quit my job?”, “which craft shows should I apply to?”, “what should my website look like?”, “should I sell on Etsy or open my own webstore?” and my answer is I don’t know, it’s your decision. There are lots of advice columns available such as this one, free or paid, there are books, websites and coaches. It is up to you to read and research as much as you can so you know all the choices but as the boss the final decision is yours.

Making your own business decisions is especially important in a creative business because we are selling more than just goods. We are selling ourselves and our decisions must be true to us, genuine and sincere. I could give you a blueprint of every step I’ve taken, every decision I’ve made and you could follow it exactly and fail. Why? Because you are not me. You must be comfortable with your choices. You must also make the choices.

Running a small business is hard work – there are a lot of decisions. If you are looking for a business where someone walks you through every step, tells you what logo to use and what your packaging looks like then buy a franchise. If you want something with more challenge than asking, “do you want fries with that?” then put on your BOSS hat and let’s get down to running our little empires.

The second hat is your employee hat. As I write this I’m looking out my window and it’s gorgeous outside. Really, what I want right now is to sit on a patio with a frosty something and stare into space. However if I did that you’d be staring at a blank page. My boss told me that I cannot leave today until this is written (heck she can be harsh).

When you are wearing your boss hat you decide what must be done and then you put on your employee hat and do it. I can make all the decisions in the world but failing to do the work means that my company will fail. If my company fails then I’m going to have to get a job and I’ll be wearing an employee hat for real.

When faced with an unpleasant task (book keeping anyone? cleaning the studio?) it helps to think, “if I had staff I’d make them do this” or “if I was working for someone else they’d make me do this”.
Your third hat is your customer hat. For all your interactions with your customers put yourself in their shoes (ooh, maybe we should buy shoes to match the hat!”) and think “how would I like to be treated”. When designing your online store or your booth think from a customers’ point of view. What sort of refund policy makes you happy when you shop? Do you like free shipping? What extra touches make you feel like a special and valued customer?

Once you decide what you as a customer want then put on your boss hat and see if these choices are reasonable and you can implement them. Come to a decision that is makes both the customer and the boss happy. Now put on your employee hat and make it happen.

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