Love Your Business: Guest Post #7

All month long join me here as I welcome amazing contributors with one thing in common
we love our business {blog/shop/etc} and we want you to love yours too!
To keep up to date with this series view all posts here.

What's up, sweet friends of Heather?! My name is Ilene and I chill over in the world of Much Love, illy - both blog and shop. First, I want to thank Heather so much for the opportunity to hang out with this cool crowd. Heather is such an inspiration to so many of us, it is an honor to be a part of her corner of blog world! 

Second, today we're gonna have a little coffee date (or if you are a tea or hot chocolate person, that works too) and chit chat about truly loving what you do - whether you sew some sweet swag, capture life daily by camera, or write the day away. no matter what you do, you need to love it. something is wrong if you don't.

wait. she did not just say that. or did she?

yup, i did say it. something is wrong if you don't love what you do.

because my dear friend, why do you even do it then? why are you wasting the days working your butt off for something that you don't love. 

so i'm gonna kinda make this a self-analysis sort of post, so that we can be a little bit more engaging with this computer screen between the two of us. i'll ask the question. you answer it. and then i'll throw in my two cents of what i'm learning and currently learning in this particular topic. 

and these questions can really be applied to just about anything (if it's an out of the job situation, that might be something you need to chat about with your husband or with your bills) but since we are talking specifically about blog and shop business we're gonna focus on this specific areas - handmade business, etsy shop, photography, and blogging, etc. 

question #1 - why do you do what you do? not at all trying to be redundant, but if you didn't answer it the first time, here's your second chance at it. and if you can't answer this question, answer the next one - the two go hand in hand.

question #2 - why did you start to do what you do? i know there are a variety of reasons why people start their business or blog, but most of the time, i've heard people say (including myself!), i was bored and needed a creative outlet. i wanted to do it for fun. i needed a place to record my inspirations. and all of those reasons are awesome! you know why? those answers are refreshing! and should still be our current answers to question #1.

but ilene, it's not fun anymore. the hours are late and long. i feel bored. i'm uninspired. i hate packaging orders and making some many PO runs. 

or maybe you are coming from it's not fun anymore. i'm discouraged. business is slow. i feel left out of the creative rush that everyone else seems to be going through. 

okay, so we obviously we have a little problem-o with both of these answers. now i could probably write one who other blog posts on how we can fix these two situations but i want to focus on the one super simple question that every serious business owner needs to ask themselves - even before these two questions.

ready for it? it's pretty serious. 

question #3 - do you love what you do and truly having fun with it? 
  • if you're answer is YES, i still do but am burnt out, then the solution is very simple: take a freakin' break! seriously. this is a MUST to avoid the burn-out. Taking a break could look like: 
    • Take the weekend off. No emails. No blog reading. No checking the shop stats. Hide the laptop in the closet if necessary.
    • Start a new art project. Do something outside of your comfort zone or something that you don't make on a daily basis. If you paint, try sewing. If you sew, try painting. For Valentine's Day, I took a break from my daily sewing routine and made a paper craft for my finace - most refreshing thing I did in a long time.
    • Hang out with a real life friend. Really hang out with a friend. And turn off the social network notifications. Silence the phone and engage with the person in front of you. I think getting wrapped up in the online world, it's easy to think that the real life world is like Twitter. You can have multiple conversations with multiple people but let's come back to earth, people. Focus on the one person in front of you and engage in one conversation. It's really less exhausting. 
    • Do something active. If that means running around the neighborhood or dancing to Just Dance Wii with your kids, then do it. Get off of your butt and get the blood flowing. And do this regularly. It gets the stress out in a way that the creative outlet cannot.
  • If you're answer is NO, then the answer is also a complicated way. The answer is stop what you are doing and go back to square one. It's not worth the time, energy or money. You are worth more than that. Take a break using one or more of the suggestions above and then...
    • After you've taken a break, grab a notebook. Stay away from pinterest or blogs or other handmade shops and jot down the following:
      • What are your favorite things in the world (bubble-gum? unicorns? pizza? etc.)
      • What are you good at (photography? writing? etc.)
    • Now take what you have their a brainstorm what you can do with that. (Bubble-gum chewing unicorns that love pizza?  Pizza flavored bubble-gum with unicorns are the mascot? A photography blog about unicorns that love pizza and bubble-gum? The possibilities are endless!) 
At the end of the day what matters is that YOU love what you do. No matter who weird it might be to have pizza flavored bubble-gum, if you LOVE it, you will go farther than taking something that you hate and wasting your life away with it. You live life once and want to look back and see that you lived it to the fullest.

Now don't get me wrong. Sometimes we need to go through those tough-times to bring us to the place that we are today - or where we are supposed to be tomorrow. My shop did not start with headbands and big bow hair clips. 

Lean in for a true story...

Much Love, illy started as a card shop. I loved making cards for friends and was always told that I should sell them. So I did. I opened up my etsy shop and had about 10 different kinds of handmade cards photographed and ready to be sold. I ended up selling them all - but guess what? 

I did not love it. At all. 

So over Christmas vacation one year, I found myself obsessed with felt. I'd always loved poppies and headbands were starting to be all the rage at the time - so I started playing around with felt and beads and elastic and came up with the poppy garland headband. And the rest is history.

It's been a learning experience. And I've had hard days and good days. But what has helped me make it through the tough times is when I've asked myself Are you still having fun? Do you love what you do? 

And that question has brought me further than I ever anticipated. 

So with all that, ready to leave this coffee shop and live out what we just talked about? :)

Much Love, 

:About the Author:
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  1. Thank you for your input. SO helpful. I've been to a seminar last week where the issue you just talked aout (do you love what you do?) was the main theme and I was shocked to hear that most of the 350 women there (me included) weren't doing what they love to do best. To me, that's horrible. I know what I want to do next, and now the next question is: can I make a living out of this... bills have to be paid (and such things) and that's quite hard, so not quite there yet. Your peptalk was inspiring though, thanx!!

  2. umm hi my name is Leonora and I love Heather and Ilene.

    Seriously, LOVE the advice in regards to "just take a breather and STOP FOR A SECOND and regroup" and about chatting with "in real life" folks as well. I get caught up in social networking at times and even if its just a "skype date" with your favorite poppy garland makin' girl it does help to get you focused again <3

  3. what a great post! you have such wonderful things to say and great advice, love the card story, its terrible if people don't leave what they are doing to go after better things. ps all of your outfits i'm obsessing over!!

    C |

  4. i love ilene! and i love this post. heather way to bring us the best posts ever... from people who have such wonderful, wise words. i was a little frustrated today but then i remembered why i do what i do! i like it! :)

    much love (heehee) to both of you.

  5. Wow, this is really awesome! Ilene was the one who gave me great advice when I started my etsy shop and has always been a great inspiration! Thanks so much for this amazing post full of helpful tips! xxx

  6. Great advice! Thank you :)

  7. i love the photos and the tips :)

  8. This is oh so inspiring :) Thanks for sharing! Love these questions!
    xo Heather

  9. I LOVED this post!! Especially the parts about taking a break...I have so felt the need for that lately. I still love what I do, but sometimes I just need to take time for ME, not my shop or my blog. Also, funny story, I started out selling cards, too. ;)

  10. Oh, Ilene. I have always loved your blog, but this post just reminded me why I head over there everyday. You always offer up positive encouragement, and always say the right words at the right time! <3 I needed this! THANK YOU!

  11. This was fabulous and SO re-freshing! Thank you so much for sharing, Ilene! I'm really gonna take what you said to heart and apply to my life right now! Taking a break and doing something else is just what I need to bring the passion back to my creativity!