Author: Tara Swiger

The Three Communities You Need

The Three Communities You Need, Tara Swiger, Oh My! Handmade

Having the right community surrounding you is the surest, sanest, and most sustainable way to create the business you want. The right community can support you, encourage, even buy from you! But no one community can do everything for you. We (usually) can’t get our need for belonging filled by the same people who meet our  financial needs. (Of course it’s possible, and desirable, to be friends with your customers, as long as you don’t conflate their purchases with your self-worth.)

It’s easy to fall into habits – sticking with the same people, spending time in the same places, and having the same conversations. These habits are just fine, and very comforting, but they can also keep you from seeing what’s languishing – the relationships that you aren’t building.

To spot your own habits (and the places your community could use a little attention and love), let’s look at the three communities you need supporting your work (this is in addition to your usual personal support network of family + friends who know nothing about your business):

1. The hang-out and know-I’m-not-alone community.

This is usually filled with other people running businesses like yours. This community fills an important need for belonging. When we chat with other people who are doing what we’re doing, we know we’re not alone. (Which can be pretty hard to find in our daily, face-to-face interactions with family and friends who have day jobs.)

In this community, you chat with people, talk about difficulties and triumphs – all with friends who have been there and get it. Some of us find this community very easy to build via social media – it’s the people we have most in common with on Twitter or Facebook, the people we fall easily into conversation with. If you’re having a hard time connecting in the overwhelming stream of tweets, joining the OMHG community is a great way to get this support!

2. The Challenge + Accountability community.

This is filled with people who not only know what we’re going through, but they hold us accountable to our own vision. This community is prevalent in the fitness + recovery world (running partners + AA meetings), but it’s just as important for any change (or growth) you’re consciously pursuing. You can form this kind of accountability with a friend, you can hire a coach to keep you accountable, or you can join an online group dedicated to accountability (like the Starship!)

It can be tricky to get this kind of support from the people you already know, because they might not be comfortable challenging you, or digging deeper. The way you’ll interact with this community (and the size of it) depends on how you work best – do you want to check in with someone else weekly? Daily? Do you want to go into detail and get more ideas + solutions? Or is it enough to just say: I’m working on this now! This community might even include your staff + employees.

(I find I need different levels of commitment + accountability for different goals.)

3. The community of your buyers + raving fans.

This group is the most vital to your bottom line. It doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have, if they all come from your peers and mentors! What’s tricky with this community is that you have to form it; you can’t sign up somewhere and tap into what someone else has formed. To create and sell your best work, you have to find the unique collection of people who will love it. The great part is that you can learn from each and every person in the community, to both create better work AND to find more community members. This community is (slowly) built through integrated, you-filled marketing – finding and reaching out to your Right People. (I got into detail on how to do this in my book.)

Which community do you have the habit of interacting with? Which one needs more attention and love from you?

Postcard from camp: The freedom to adventure

Good morning, sunrise.

My brother (SoCal born + raised) texted me:  You busy the end of May? Can I come visit?

Me: Sure! 

Him: Tickets bought! Would love to see the Atlantic Ocean. Never been! How far? 

Me: Five hours to Charleston, SC. Let’s go!

Two weeks later, I picked him up at the airport at 10 pm and in our drive back to my house we decided to leave the very next morning for the Atlantic. We woke up, rented a car and started driving. I booked a hotel right on the beach (a crazy good price because it was…Thursday). When we arrived, we threw our stuff in the room, changed and ran out to the beach and jumped in. It was a random Thursday, we planned nothing and suddenly – we were in the ocean!

As I floated around, I decided that this is what I want from summer, self-employment, LIFE. The freedom to take off for 48 hours. The adventurousness to make it up on the fly. The trust that I know myself, my finances, and my businesses enough to listen to my instincts and act!

What do you need to trust yourself to do, to adventure, to explore?

 Share your own postcard from camp right here! 

An Explorer’s Guide to Packing for Adventure

                                                                      Let’s Go Camping print by Brooke Weeber

If you’re a small business owner, or an artist, maker, or writer, you are an explorer!

You explore your internal world with creativity and curiosity. You explore the external world, through sharing your work, chatting with customers, and assessing what works. You explore your own path to success by watching what works (and doing more of it) and learning from what doesn’t work (and then doing less of that!)

The good news: You’ve got the basics of what you need inside you – your smarts, your curiosity, your ability to learn and grow and adapt. But when you beam down to an unknown planet, it can be reassuring to have a pack with you and a few helpful tools.

But what to pack?

  1. Your map (so you know what direction to go) 
  2. A Captain’s Log (so you don’t forget what you learn) + a tricorder (to scan the environment) 
  3. A sweater (to keep you warm)
  4. An Away Team (to keep you company)

Your map

No matter what you read in a book, blog, or class, you get to decide where you want to go in your business and define success for yourself. Afterall, you’re not exploring an unknown alien planet, you’re exploring the world you’ve created. And you are the only one who knows it (and knows what you WANT it to be), so you (need to, and get to) make your own map.

Your map tells you where you want to go and what you want to discover.
As you travel, you consult the map to make sure you’re going the direction you want to go. When you make discoveries, you redraw the map to reflect the facts on the ground. (It’s ok, the map is not the territory.When you reach the destination on your map, you whip out your Captain’s Log and your tricorder,  lay in a new course, and you make a new map.

A tricorder + a Captain’s Log

These two go together, because a tricorder scans the environment and gives you feedback, while your Captain’s Log is where you write down what you’ve learned.

Your tricorder is probably made up of a few things – your own powers of observations, your experiments (if I write the description like this, will I sell more?), and what you’ve learned. You favorite websites and books might format your tricorder, so you know what other people have experienced and what clues to look for.

But scanning and learning isn’t enough – you’ve got to hold on to that on-the-ground learning, you’ve got to remember where you’ve been and what you found there. Every time you experiment, every time you learn something, every time a resident of your world tells you something – you record it in your Captain’s Log.

My Captain’s Log is a big floppy, blank-paged journal that I keep in my purse at all times. Sometime scraps of my Log go public. Yours might be digital on Evernote, or analog in a journal…or a mix of both. (This is another place to experiment!)

But no matter where you write – don’t leave home without it! Your Captain’s Log will both reassure when you come across something crazy (oh! I’ve slayed this monster before!) and will remind you that everything is always changing, and you get to write your own story.

A sweater*

I know, I know. It’s easy to skip the sweater and just count on the sunshine. But the sun doesn’t always shine.

Sometimes you stumble into a dark corner on your map and you start to feel lost and chilly.

A sweater is the thing that comforts you and encourages you.

For some, the sweater is an encouraging friend.
For others, the sweater is a calming, centering ritual, like lighting a candle, drinking a cup of tea, or praying.
For others, the sweater is taking a simple, easy action to move them towards the warmth.
For others, the sweater is proof that this isn’t forever, it’s some piece of data that proves they’ll get back to warmth.

Whatever your sweater is, find it.
Pack it.
Don’t leave home without a sweater.
(or towel)*

An Away Team

“Away Team” is just a fancy way of saying – the people who are with you while you explore. They may be right there, exploring with you, or they might just talk to you when you return from a day’s adventure. Ideally, your Away Team is made up of different personality types, so you get a variety of opinions.

  • A rational, numbers-minded person to help you wade through the data your experiments are creating, or balance your spreadsheets.

  • An idealist, that dreams big and encourages you to greatness.

  • A deeply personal friend, who will hug you when you cry, or patch you up when you skin your knee.

(Note: Your team is only filled with people who will love you no matter what. They are not judgmental, they don’t make you feel bad, or different, or weird. When you use a metaphor (like, say, “Away Team”), they smile brightly and thank you for being so quirky)

These people might be in your group of friends or family. They might be your online friends. If you’re not sure where they are, look around. Are they hiding in plain sight? And if you’re not finding them, take a look inside the OMHG community, or aboard the Starship.

No matter where you find them, remember to bring them aboard – tell them what’s going on, ask for what you need, share your big dreams and your tiny worries.
What’s in your pack?
What are you missing and what are you going to gather this week?

Gather with Tara & Team OMHG this Thursday July 4th for a holiday #OMHG to find our Away Teams, chat packing for exploration & mapping uncharted territory with Tara!

*If all this Star Trek metaphoring wasn’t geeky enough for you…or not your kind of geekiness, I had to throw in a Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference. Just remember: DON’T PANIC