"Stop building boring businesses!"
Kirsty Waite is a business coach who firmly believes that running a business shouldn't be serious all the time. Being yourself in business takes a bit of practice, but giving ourselves permission to have some fun while we work can make us happier, open up new opportunities and help us attract our ideal clients.
In this convo, Kirsty shares her tips for unlearning corporate rules, having fun while still taking your business seriously, and giving yourself permission to break the rules.
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Louise Shanahan is a freelance health and medical copywriter and a big fan of finding your freelance niche. She's on a mission to help others build a freelance business that feels easy and works for them – in weekly snack-sized bites.
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Welcome to 15 Minute Freelancer, your snack-sized guide to being your own boss and building a business and life you love. I'm your host Louise Shanahan. My LinkedIn bio says I'm a freelance health copywriter. But for the next 15 minutes, I'll be tickling your ears with practical strategies, behind-the-scenes stories, and nuggets of wisdom so you can create a freelance business that works for you. Whether you're just starting out or you've been self-employed for a while, I'll be right here with you to help you navigate the ups and downs of freelancing life. So grab a coffee relax and join me for 15 minutes of freelancing fun. Don't forget to hit subscribe.
Louise: Hello, Louise here and today I'm joined by Kirsty Waite, who is not your average business coach. Some of you may recognise Kirsty’s name because I've named-dropped her many, many times on this podcast. I've done one to one business coaching with Kirsty last year, and I'm now in her Thriving in Business Mastermind, which is amazing. And I'm very happy to say we're friends now too, and I can't speak highly enough about how much Kirsty has helped me. But before I get too gushy, hello, Kirsty, thank you for joining me.
Kirsty: It's so nice to be here. It's so nice to be on the other side of this podcast, because I listen to this podcast all the time.
L: Oh, I love that. Our topic for today is making business fun. That's something that I feel really strongly about but I have had to work at a little bit. Because I think when you're running a business, it's quite easy to get bogged down in all the things that we think we should be doing. Especially if you're the high achieving type and you measure success on how hard you're working and things like that. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we should actually be having some fun too. So maybe we could start there. Why is it important to make business fun?
K: Like yourself, I feel so passionate about this. For me, personally, I think I am quite a fun high energy person and I think having a sense of fun helps cultivate a positive mindset. It just makes you feel much more joyful in your day and what you do. Equally, I think when you're having fun in your business, you're much more productive, you're just much more open to opportunities and happiness. I just think I think it's much nicer, isn't it? I came from a world of corporate where I hid that side of me so much because I wanted to seem professional. I was that very serious businessy person and the only people that ever really saw the true side of me was my team. So when I started my business, I was so determined to bring the real me to my business. And that is fun. Having fun in my business is really important to me.
L: I feel the same way about that. I think for those of us more sort of serious types, who maybe need to unlearn the nine to five or unlearn our corporate ways this is a really good way to think about that. How do we actually do that? How do you make business fun and how has that affected your clients and your business?
K: When I talk about fun, I want to be really clear that I take my business incredibly serious, it's not just a joke or a laugh. I really am very serious about creating my business the way I want. But what I don't take too seriously is myself. I allow myself open to possibilities and opportunities that maybe I don't know exactly how it's gonna turn out and I don't attach myself to the outcome so seriously. Previously, in the nine to five, I would work incredibly hard on certain projects and topics and there would be no space for fun because it's just work, work, work. It's very much that masculine energy of push, push, push. When I approach my business, it's got to feel light and easy and in flow. It's interesting, but you need to virtually give yourself permission to have fun, don't you, like it's not professional, you can't do that. Whereas actually, why? Because I attract people that enjoy that energy and that fun, people who are really serious aren’t necessarily going to be really attracted to my energy because I'm quite high energy. For example, in March, I'd come out of Christmas and things had been really hectic and really busy and I just declared on LinkedIn one day that I’m making March a really fun month. I just literally opened it up to all of my network, like how can we make March fun, what have you got, what can we do together. I literally just invited everybody in to make March fun, and it really was. I ended up doing really random stuff like cookery classes and loads of people invited me on to their podcast, and I got invited to do webinars and invites for coffee that I would never have reached out to someone to do. But that's fun to me. I think what's important as well, is fun is different and it's very personal. All that fun stuff that I've just said there might not be for everybody. If people are listening thinking, oh my goodness, I'd hate that. It doesn't have to be that it could be anything you like. I just make sure that whatever I’m creating in my business allows me to bring my energy to it. When I work on promoting my programmes or my mastermind, I never have to try, because it's so natural. The stuff I create I love, and it brings me energy and is really, really fun to me. Literally everything that I try to create comes as part of me, if that makes sense, it's really aligned to how I enjoy to work and who I enjoy working with. I've created an offer over summer that I literally created out of the desire to do it myself and be surrounded by a group of cool people doing cool things over summer. So I created a programme out of it. That's just me I’m gonna turn up and have fun and be high energy, but equally help people in their business at the same time.
L: One thing that struck me when you were talking there about giving ourselves permission, because I think a lot of creative freelancers and creative types, maybe there's a sort of feeling that you should suffer for your art or, you know, just thinking more broadly, it's a tough economic situation at the moment, and a lot of people maybe feel like they're in a race against time to make ends meet or achieve their goals. There can be quite a lot of mindset and practical blocks to allowing ourselves to have fun. I wonder if you've got any thoughts about just kind of digging into that a bit more, how do we give ourselves permission to have fun when we're building a business in maybe tricky times,
K: I come across that all of the time. It's virtually the guilt of enjoying what you do. And so many people that operate in the creative industry feel that because work is meant to be hard, like they virtually feel like I've got to make it hard for myself. Because I'm doing what I love, it's got to be really serious and you can't be seen to be having fun. I just think that's a belief that you’re allowing to dictate how you operate in business. I think it's a reframe of your mindset and approach and giving yourself permission. We have the choice to create the business we want. It's up to us if we choose that or not. Fundamentally, we have to be doing this for us. This is our business and life is so short, you don't know what's around the corner, you don't know what's going to happen. Why do you want to spend life being miserable. Stop building boring businesses, just have fun, and give yourself that permission to have fun. I completely get the whole economic situation. This is even more of a reason to me to enjoy the little bit of life in the world that I can control. Because there's so much going on in the wider world, there's a lot of negative news going on. I get to control my day-to-day, I get to control this little nook of the world which is my business, why would I want to reflect what's going on in the world and have negatives. I think this is my opportunity to create some element of happiness and positivity in my world. Because I can't control any of the other stuff that is completely outside of my control. Whereas the element that I can control, let's make it joyful and the place where I want to be.
L: Another way that I've been thinking about this is about how do you build in light relief throughout your day. So rather than scrolling on Twitter and getting dragged down, and all the bad news there, is there something else that you can do, maybe it's reading a book, maybe it's connecting with people, playing with your kids, playing with your dog, whatever it is, little things like that that can make business fun. But then there are also things that we can do within our business too, that aren't just about making it fun for us and creating the programmes or projects that really light us up. But also ways that we can make it fun for our clients as well. So that might be little things like maybe you put a funny message in your out of office, can be a little thing like that, I don't know, have you got other ideas? What else could we do to make it fun for our clients as well as us?
K: It's whatever your relationships like and what you want it to be like. Because there has to be some element of boundaries and I suppose you have certain clients that you've worked with longer and have known you longer. But absolutely, like your out of office, or you might send them like a personal gift. I sent Sophie Cross some pink slime once, but it was incredibly funny because she’d also sent me some, so literally the day that she received hers I received mine, the most bizarre thing. I think odd things like that connect you with your clients. I always give my clients gifts, and as you know I like to make people have a great experience, and those gifts and the way you do that doesn't have to be serious, it could be really personal with a bit of sense of humour in there. But yeah, it could be anything, I think when you think about your business, it could be how you decorate your office could be fun, it could be the group's you attend, or what you're organise, it doesn't have to be really rigid or this big thing that you've got to do, or this big gesture. It could be just little things that make you happy or make you feel a bit more joyful.
L: One thing that I've done, that has been quite fun for me and my clients, I think, is recording little videos when I'm asking for testimonials. Because I know that's something that people feel a bit awkward about once a project is finished and you ask for a review, or a testimonial, or some feedback. I used Biteable, and you can get templates off there so I used one with these little clay people and had a nice little message on it asking for the testimonial and asking if they would refer me to anyone else that they thought might need my services. It was just a really fun way, I enjoyed making it and I think it made them laugh, and maybe made them a little bit more open to leaving a really positive review as well. So that was nice.
K: I love that. I think it should be about, I know this sounds really cheesy, but the journey should be fun to building your business. It shouldn't have to be a destination, it shouldn't have to be saved for a weekend, it shouldn't have to be reserved, if you can bring more joy and fun into your day it just makes it a lot happier. I think happiness and energy, it's infectious and I think people want to be around that. I think people are more drawn to that positive energy and that happiness and that fun, as opposed to that really serious approach. What's your thoughts? How do you create fun in your business?
L: I think that things like that little video are one, I think making sure I've got lots of balance in my day between things that I enjoy doing and work. Trying to keep things light hearted with clients, I suppose I've got quite a few clients that I've worked with for a long time so I have a really good relationship with them. I think this is a big difference that I noticed between working for myself and my previous job where I was speaking on behalf of an organisation and I always felt like I had to hold my personality back a bit. Whereas now I can just be myself so I don't worry too much about coming across as too professional or anything like that, I think you can be a bit light-hearted in the way you communicate, obviously making sure that you're delivering the work at the same time.
K: Yeah, that whole holding your personality back really resonates with me. I think you're right, when you're operating on behalf of somebody else, the expectation is that you're quite serious. But when you are working for yourself, for me, as long as you're delivering the quality of work that your client expects and you want to deliver, I think you can have more of that personality in there. When you are your brand, which we are aren’t we, our businesses, we are our brand. I think that's what makes us different. And whenever we talk about what makes you a different business coach to the next business coach, or you a different copywriter to the next, it's very much the answer is it's me, and it's you. That's not to sound like I've got an ego, that is literally you're different to me doing business coaching, because if you and what you bring to the table, and I think that is your personality. I think when you show more of that you attract those clients that you want to work with and find that fun, and then you're going to gel and enjoy the process more.
L: I think that's a nice place to wrap up. Thank you so much, Kirsty, this has been a really fun conversation and a great reminder to stop building boring businesses. That we can bring a bit of lightness to ourselves and delight to our clients. If people would like to find out more about your work, where should they go?
K: Come and find me on LinkedIn, that's where I hang out most of the time.
L: And you mentioned you had a fun project for the summer do you want to say a little bit about that?
K: It's starting next week and it's basically a little group container where we're going to hold each other accountable, we're going to work on some goals and not come out of the summer feeling like we're ten steps behind ourselves. Feeling like that we’re actually on target to come out of the summer and be more organised as we go into the last quarter of the year.
L: I love that. We'll include a link to that in the show notes. I hope that this episode will go out in time but if anybody is curious about that, then you'll need to get in touch with Kirsty really quickly and find out.
K: Thank you so much, Louise.
L: Thank you so much, Kirsty, and thanks everyone for listening. Please let us know how you're making your business fun this summer, tag me and Kirsty on LinkedIn and tell us what you're up to. Until next time, happy freelancing.
You've been listening to 15 Minute Freelancer with me Louise Shanahan, freelance health copywriter and content marketer at thecopyprescription.com. If you enjoyed this, please hit subscribe, leave a review or share it with a freelance friend. And if you've got a freelancing question you want to be answered on the podcast, find me and say hi on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. Thanks, and until next time, happy freelancing.