A Reflection on 'Commanding your Vision' Panel

Last night I participated on a panel hosted by Steadfast Supply & Femme Fatale entitled ‘COMMANDING YOUR VISION: GET UNBLOCKED’.

I was honored to be a panelist for such a topic, especially amongst fellow female entrepreneur friends Nicole Crowder of Nicole Crowder Upholstery and Leah Beilhart of Behold.Her, along with Moderator, Mollie Q. Coleman of Noirbnb.com.

Panel description: “It’s time to command your vision and untangle the challenges we face as creative female entrepreneurs! Presented by Steadfast Supply and Femme Fatale, join us along with three inspiring women entrepreneurs as they provide insight and actionable steps to grow and sustain your creative business through their own stories and experiences”

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A few days before the panel took place, Adriana of Femme Fatale shared this probe with us panelists:

“Entrepreneurship really is about the journey more than the final destination we hold in our minds. This fundamental principle is one that is often forgotten in the midst of juggling all that comes our way on the path to our goals. Each of you ladies are at a point in your own journeys that you are able to reflect back to see that it really is about the process. The results you have seen to this point have required you to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and that is what we mean when we say COMMAND YOUR VISION. The panel discussion will delve into your experiences in how you have unblocked your path time and time again to get to your overall vision. “

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I remember when I was dyyyyying inside to be selected as a panelist. Now I need to be selective with where I dedicate my energy and this panel intrigued me because I knew as a panelist I would be encouraged to be brutally honest and actually connect with those who are building - rather than further separate myself from them. I believe I vouch for my accompanying panelists that they too had those intentions. Far too many times I attended panel discussions (when I was starting Latela Curatorial) so hungry for advice on where & how to spin my wheels the right way… and all of the conversations seemed to fall flat and not really get down to the grit.

I very much hope that our conversation from last night was helpful to the women who attended. After the panel, I spoke with a few women who expressed their difficulties with self-criticism as they grew their business, time-management, and communicating their value/getting paid. First I must say, I am grateful some of these women saw me as such a confident, well-put-together professional. I can promise you, that’s not always the case! Second, we all have moments of self-doubt and criticism.

Upon reflection from the night & my conversations, here are some streamlined tips I wish someone had shared with my year-one entrepreneur self. (In the same sentence, I must say - I am only wiser now having learned these lessons along the way)!

  1. Be unapologetic. Say No. Be kind, but say no. I firmly disagree with the “say yes to everything” mindset. No one person can do every thing. And no one brand can be every thing to every one. If you need to bend a client or project too far to make it work, it’s probably not worth your time.

  2. Stop trying to make people see you. Put your head down & do the work. The right people will see you & acknowledge that.

  3. Invest in your self. While this may not be true for products & service businesses, it 100% is for creative businesses. If your self reflection narrative expects to see a return on your investment in 2-5 years… then maybe reset your goals. This is a lifestyle. While none of us want to be under-valued, we can also play an integral part in educating on our value even while financial return is not in it.

  4. Be all in. This is your life! So what are you really willing to sacrifice? It’s not always *fun* or *easy* to be your own boss. The highs are highs, but man can the lows be lows. Can you handle it? Or what do you need around you (affirmations, community, support) to keep you up in those lows... cuz they will come & keep coming.

  5. Meditate. Every. Day. Because you need to refuel and remain sane. Duno how? Call me. Or join Latela Curatorial’s next moon circle

  6. Be weary of “collaborations”. People who suggest to collaborate 9 times out of 10 really mean they want you to do all the work and help their business via yours.

  7. Be careful with partnerships. People will want a piece of your pie, be selective. Make them work. Stay quiet and suss them out.

  8. Artists: FUCK exposure. Does exposure make you money? No. It just makes you run around town hanging your art for free and framing it on your dime for another restaurant or co-working space’s free decor benefit. Substitute exposure for relationships. If it’s not a long-term relationship you could benefit from and give into (like with a gallery for example), then I’d think twice.

  9. Don’t be too generous. As women, we are giving by nature. I have absolutely given my space out for free to help women businesses I believed in grow to find I’ve been taken advantage of. I’ve catapulted artists who cut me out of sales equations directly connected to my efforts. It happens, dust your shoulders off, and save the generosity for your day to day human interactions - not for your business life.

  10. Get to know yourself. Love yourself. Understand your value. This goes for everything. No one will buy your work or pay for your services if they don’t understand who you are and why you are special. Take the time you need (remember the investment lifestyle tip) to figure this out for yourself. It is your most valuable asset - to know your value and communicate it properly. We help artists with this all the time

  11. Be smart with money but also know what to invest in. You learn to be scrappy VERY quickly when you start your own business. You will cherish that life lesson forever. But do not replace scrappy with cheap! One simply cannot do everything. Hiring for services you are not good at or do not want to spend your time doing allows you to free up your time (& ENERGY) for the clients that will actually make you money and raise your value. Hire out for the right things.

  12. Cut cords & be okay with rejection. It’s not personal. Not everyone will like you and you won’t get every client you pitch to. Just know that, and move on. Pitch to more clients so that when people disappear or do not follow through it doesn’t affect you. You should already be on to other things. Same scenario for vice-a-versa. You may need to move on from relationships (professional or personal) that hold you back from your dreams/goals. We’ve all been there. Pull up your big girl panties and cut that toxic cord. Shed that layer of skin and hug yourself for respecting yourself.

Happy to respond to comments/questions…

Photo by    Leah Beilhart

Photo by Leah Beilhart