What does it mean to be kind? If the name doesn’t give it away, here at Artisan Kind we have a vision: to serve others through beautifully strategic design, all while inspiring kindness: in life, in business, in practices that help us all live gently upon this earth.
The world of business can be cold, technical, mindless, and competitive. It’s incredibly important to me that we slow down and foster kindness in this space. Recognize that a small step, a simple mindset shift can make all the difference.
One distinction I want to make today is the difference between being “nice” and being “kind.”I was a painfully shy kid. All through schooling I was described as nice, pleasant, and obedient. In order to live up to those perceptions I often took on things I didn’t want to do or I didn’t have time to do so I would still be thought of as “nice”. I regularly put others’ needs and wants before my own.
It took me years to transition from being nice to being kind.
Of course we want to be seen as “nice” business owners…but nice can’t come at the cost of boundaries. Let’s explore together how we can embrace a mindful approach to business.
Let’s discuss how to foster kindness for ourselves, our community, and our clients.
I wholeheartedly support the idea that you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to be kind to yourself first (and build capacity) to be the best you can for others. This can mean a couple different things in business.
One pitfall for new entrepreneurs is trying to recreate your 9-5 schedule. But I’d wager a guess one of the reasons you started a business was for more “flexibility.”
Giving yourself permission to do things your own way is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself! It’s your business, there are no real “rules” to follow. Even if it might feel like it.
We might try to work exactly like we did in our 9-5 (or more) to somehow prove our worth. To prove that this business we’re running is real, valuable, and legitimate. But the truth is, your value is not tied to your working hours. Remember that.
Letting your schedule control you, instead of intentionally building one to nurture you, is a fast-track to burnout.
When I told my partner, Kevin, I wanted to start a business after losing my job he said: “Wonderful, I have one condition…you won’t work more than you worked before.”
Starting a business is HARD work and the first 9 months were beyond stressful. But I made sure not to overwork myself. I drew lines and enforced boundaries. I made it a priority to allow myself adequate time to rest and live my life outside of business.
Make time for yourself to do things you enjoy. I like to take spur of the moment vacation days to work on a project in the yard (to build a little fence or a trellis). Even if it’s just a half day.
What if we approached our to-do list in a kinder way? What if we reverse-engineered the planning process by promoting rest, self-care, and white space…then filling in the rest with work?
This is a great way to avoid overworking and stop pushing off self-care until the “perfect” time. (*cough* there’s no such thing).
But wait, before you wave off “self-care” as a frivolous time waster, understand I’m not just talking about bubble baths with rose petals. I’m talking about deep, nourishing care for our minds, body, and hearts. That which is a necessity, not a luxury.
Embracing self-kindness is embracing self-care. It might look like:
As we’ve said, business is hard. It’s a constant wave of learning and unlearning. You’ll inevitably make decisions you later regret because you wanted to be “nice” or maybe you didn’t know better at the time.
Being kind to yourself is learning to forgive yourself. You have so much on your plate. It’s important to embrace and learn from the challenges so you can grow instead of getting hung up on them.
On that same note, kindness in business is learning to respect yourself. Standing up for yourself, your valuable time, and the boundaries you have in place.
Being nice still creeps up on me. I’ve found myself not charging for all sorts of add-on projects. I once spent a whole day trying to help a client make minor edits to a video. Neither she or I knew how long it would take and I never ended up telling her (eek).
I’ve had to gently remind and slowly train myself that my time is valuable, I deserve to pay my bills, enjoy life, save for retirement and take care of my family…and to do that I need to charge adequately for my time. As do you!
“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.”
Being kind to others in business can be accomplished in so many ways. We can connect deeply with others all around the world and bring smiles to friends, clients, and mentors we might never have met in person.
The virtual nature of business communication makes jumping to conclusions much easier. One of the best ways to be kind to others is to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe you’ve been ghosted by a potential client or received a message that could be interpreted multiple ways.
I see these narratives play out all the time: “My client asked me to take on X and how do I tell her I’m not doing that for free”.
I get it…it’s so easy to snap to conclusions and assume a client is expecting something for free. I’m unlearning this myself! But your client likely wouldn’t dream of asking you to work for free. She very likely expects you to bill her or reply with your rate.
When I ask my copywriter for services not covered in my monthly retainer I 100% expect an invoice, I want to pay her for the value she brings to my business.
Shooting your client an email with “I’m not working for free” is kind to you but not to them. Instead try something like this:
“Great, I’d love to help you with that, I charge X for this service”. Or “I’d love to help but I can’t commit to more work right now…here’s a short list of other professionals I recommend you reach out to”.
Being kind to others, and yourself, means responding instead of reacting in the moment. Giving yourself time to clear your head of snap cessions and see a situation from a bigger, kinder point of view.
We are small business owners, we work with real humans. How can we ensure that human doesn’t just feel like a number? Like a source of income?
This is where client experience building intersects with organic communication. I’m a huge proponent for adding systems to your business to simplify the work on your plate and ultimately create a seamless client experience.
But going the extra mile and personalizing that experience to the individual client is incredible!
What an honor it is to serve this human, that they trust you to guide them. Show your gratitude in whatever way feels right!
An easy way to foster kindness with your business is to lift up others around you. We’re all in this together and word of mouth is one of the best ways to help one another.
If another business owner shares a post that really resonates with you, share it with your audience! If you participated in a workshop, course, or enjoyed someone’s freebie…tell others about it! Even a simple tag on social media can go a long way.
Of course leaving testimonials for businesses you’ve worked with is incredibly kind, but can you go a little deeper with it? Can you share more of your story and how this offer lead you to a new chapter? Perhaps you share the testimonial on your own social media pages instead of just sending it back to them.
Finally, consider collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs. Can you come together and highlight each of your unique gifts in a joint workshop, post, or offer? This way you can share your audiences and promote the kind power of community over competition.
As we said at the start, having your own business means having more flexibility. You can set the rules to make things simple for yourself and for others. But overextending yourself won’t get you very far. Boundaries are not only necessary…they are kind.
Something I learned early on was to build in breathing room between projects. Even a couple extra days of buffer can make all the difference for you and your client.
There is always the chance that a step will take longer than expected or life will throw a curveball. Sickness, family emergency, broken furnace (*raises hand*)…things happen!
Whether it’s you or your client, it’s kind to have some flexibility for things like this. But it’s equally kind to have expectations in place.
I recently had a client who started a project with me at the start of tax season (she’s a bookkeeper so you can imagine how swamped she was). She reached out because she wasn’t going to meet our first deadline. I reminded her that I do have an extension fee in place if deadlines go unmet but (thanks to the wiggle room I had factored in) I was willing to extend this particular deadline out one week.
She’s since met every other deadline. Sometimes people just genuinely need a little kindness. Because I had planned ahead for the unexpected, I was able to be kind to her, but not at my own expense.
Boundaries will look different for every business owner. It will depend on your responsibilities outside of work (relationships, kids, pets, community, or other commitments).
It will depend on the type of person you are and what you know about your own energy. Perhaps you’re an introvert and a highly sensitive person who needs more free space. Or an extrovert who relies on socializing to refill their tank!
Boundaries to consider:
Pro tip: having a contract in place can cover all of these details!
We could certainly go on and on about fostering kindness in business. If you’re interested in learning more about being kind to the Earth through your business you can read our post here!
Being kind in business starts with being kind to yourself. Giving yourself recognition for the small, medium and big things! Sometimes that means just acknowledging that you showed up that day.
Slow growth is better than fast growth if it means you’re taking care of yourself along the way.
Being kind to yourself offers more capacity to spread that kindness to others. To be supportive and understanding. To be flexible and caring. The biggest thing to remember is that being too “nice” might mean sacrificing boundaries.
A little mindful kindness goes a long way to uplifting you, protecting you, and all of the amazing people you serve.
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ARTISAN KIND LLC © 2023
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As a proud Showit Design Partner, I create strategic visual identities from my 100% solar-powered studio, helping you showcase your expertise, attract more aligned clients, and build a life you love! Based in Eau Claire, WI, serving clients worldwide.