Over the past few days I’ve been reading Paul Jarvis’s book Everything I Know, a book about how to set up your own business and be creative. When I do buy books about business and creativity, they tend to attract me because they’re unconventional – they have advice and blueprints that don’t follow conventional business ‘wisdom’. I’m not aiming to have a corporate business: this kind of business doesn’t appeal to me because I value things and am passionate about things that might be considered ‘fringe’ or perhaps might be considered ‘unpolished’. Doing work that doesn’t align with my values often feels forced and joyless, which is why I don’t do sponsored posts or have advertising on my blog – don’t get me wrong, I think there is value in doing them for some people, but they just don’t work for me right now.
When I write, I’m not afraid of going deeper and exposing vulnerability, neither am I interested in having a business that shies away from my political values (equality, inclusion and diversity). In many ways, I think corporate culture and business is alien to many people, and doesn’t gel well with ground-roots activism, justice and heart. You just have to look at the difference between Starbucks and your local independent café. People can tell what the values and aims behind your business are, no matter how it is dressed up.
Much business advice is often all about how to sell yourself as a brand. The conventional wisdom goes that you have to be a certain way – professional, polished, uniform – but also have your own ‘style’ and to be ‘different’. The contradiction being that the conventional idea of professional is all suited up, corporate, grey and faceless, whilst having your own style is all about being true to yourself, following your values and being yourself – but for these advice givers, being yourself might mean a scaled back, less colourful version of yourself. This has always made me feel uncomfortable and inadequate. I have always wanted to create a business that doesn’t involve me wearing suits, carrying a briefcase, and being someone else’s idea of ‘business’.
So reading Paul Jarvis’s book has been a revelation. If your values don’t line up with someone else’s idea of corporate culture and business – then they are not the right fit for you. Come as you are – if informal is your thing, then why jump through hoops to fit someone else’s idea of what business means and looks like? Break the mould. Create a business around what you value the most and what kind of work you do best. Be less afraid to be vulnerable – courage and bravery are vulnerable. Paul Jarvis talks a lot about fear – how natural it is and that everyone is afraid of failing. Creativity itself is all about failing – about experiments – you experiment and yes you might fail but you just do it again, a different way. You show up and do the work, experiment, work through the fear and do it anyway. You create your own business and creative journey.
Simply – I’m still digesting the messages in Everything I Know, and I’m sure I will have more to say once I take his advice, but for the moment, this book has changed the way I think about doing business, and will do business.
‘It was only because I tried and failed (until I didn’t fail) that I successfully got the pieces back into the box. It didn’t work at all, until it did. All I had to do was keep experimenting with different possibilities- making choices and moving forward in the adventure.’ – Paul Jarvis.