Defining Who You Are Within Your Business
As humans, we are SO quick to define ourselves by the job title we carry, whether we like what we do or not. We say things like “I am a graphic designer” or “I am a website developer.” In doing this, the majority of us end up forgetting about all of the other wonderful attributes that make us whole.
In reality, your brand is so much more than a logo or the list of services you provide. Without depth or passion, a business is merely a business without heart. And while some customers or clients don't care about that sort of thing, the majority of them DO. So why not get a better (and accurate) handle on defining who you are within your own business? Not only will it help shape your business for the better, but it'll encourage you stand out and connect with your audience on a deeper level, too.
I know this seems like a "no brainer" topic, but I can't begin to tell you how many people I've seen take themselves entirely out of the equation. They're so focused on following the path of others or striving towards success, that they forget why they're even running their own business in the first place.
All of this is to say: the heart of why you do what you do matters. And while you may have a pretty good idea of what that is, I thought it wouldn't hurt to share an exercise that's helped me in the past, centered around one simple equation:
STRENGTH + PASSION = PURPOSE
Let’s begin with your STRENGTHS, which are the qualities or things that you excel at. It’s easy to rattle off a list of strengths that you’re used to reciting, but it's important to be real and honest with yourself here.
So! Get comfy, close your eyes, and jot down literally anything that comes to mind. You can even prompt yourself with the phrase “I am _____” in order to see what comes up if you need a little bit of a boost. Here are some of the strengths that came up for me when I first did this exercise:
— I am kind
— I am mindful
— I am funny
— I am hard-working
— I am fast-working
— I am creative
— I am a perfectionist
— I am organized
— I am transparent
Don’t worry about editing or second guessing yourself here. If you’re writing things down from an honest place, you’re on the right track.
Next up, we'll move on to the second part of the equation: PASSION. This word is commonly associated with what we do for a living, which is fine ... to a point. So in order to prevent getting hung up on career related passion, ask yourself the following question: “What matters to me?”
Again, get comfy, close your eyes, and jot down literally anything that comes to mind. Here are some of the things that came up for me when I first did the exercise:
— Thoughtful design
— Quality over quantity
— Community over competition
As you can see, some of what I shared is definitely work related, while others are more ambiguous. And if you’re being honest with yourself, you’ll probably have a nice mix of both as well.
Finally, we’ll tackle the last piece of the equation: PURPOSE. The definition of purpose, if you want to get fancy, is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” I personally subscribe to the first part of that definition rather than the latter, since the idea of coming up with a “reason for which something exists” feels heavy and huge and NOT something I feel at all qualified to cover.
“The reason for which something is done or created,” on the other hand, is much more manageable. And if we go back to our original equation, we’re saying that when we combine one or some of our strengths with one or some of our passions, we’ll end up with purpose. In fact, you may end up with multiple purposes, which is totally fair because we’re complex human beings. To help explain, here are some examples:
— Patience + Family = a purpose of parenthood.
— Kindness + Education = a purpose of teaching.
— Creativity + Food = a purpose of cooking.
These examples are obviously over simplified, but you can also get as complex as you'd like. For example, there’s one thing that I’ve always wanted to do that I have yet to mention to anyone other than family and friends. And that is to organize a yoga retreat for like-minded designers. Upon first glance, this seems like a goal of mine. And technically, it is. But it stems from the same kind of equation:
(Work Ethic + Organization + Creativity) + (Mindfulness + Adventure + Community Over Competition) = a purpose of organizing a yoga retreat for like-minded designers.
Here, I’ll be able to couple my strong work ethic, organizational skills, and creative muscles with my passion of mindfulness, adventure, and community to effectively organize a yoga retreat for like-minded designers. A purpose that I wholeheartedly stand behind and hope to actually carry out some day.
Now, I realize that most of you already know that you have a purpose in some sort of creative sphere. So if you'd like to focus on that, now is the time to be more mindful about how you define that particular purpose. Or, in other words ... WHY is it your purpose?
Maybe you own your own branding business because you’re great at connecting with others and can use your design expertise to tell their story in a visual way. Or maybe you’re strength is quietly and efficiently working behind the scenes of a website as a developer, where your passion of problem solving and organization comes into play.
Just remember, you are not a brand designer or website developer or whatever it is because you went to school for it. You are a brand designer or website developer or whatever it is because of a unique combination of the different strengths and passion you possess. And that's important! There is no other you. And these qualities are the kind of things that will give your business heart, which is kind of the point. Right? ;)