I read a lot of business blogs. Mostly handmade, heart-crafted ones, like Designing an MBA, Marketing Creativity, and Scoutie Girl, to name a few… but also the occasional larger post about big business ideals and strategies on aggregate sites (posts on social networking for businesses, SEO, blah blah blah)… because I’m one person doing my whole business and I want to treat people like people but I also want to make enough money to keep doing what I’m doing — both of those things take smarts. Part of being smart is to know that you don’t know everything, and to look to learn more.
Which means that sometimes I read these sites to learn new things (like photography tricks), sometimes I like to read these sites or posts for inspiration (especially posts about the process of Making), or a check-in that I’m going in the right direction. Sometimes those right-direction posts make me feel like I’m going … well, not exactly in the WRONG direction (because it’s not wrong for me), but more like I’m swimming against the stream.
For instance, in addition to the usual “how to wholesale your products” I’m seeing a lot this week about how to best advertise your shop for Father’s Day. Honestly… I can’t imagine anything I’d like to do less. Sure, I make a lot of things dads might like. But I know too many people – myself included – for whom Father’s Day is just a hard reminder of the men in our lives that we’ve lost. The first Father’s Day after my dad passed away was like a punch in the face every time I saw an ad for it. And maybe I’m being too human, or more empathic than a business owner should be, but I don’t want to make any single human being feel like that. Same with Mother’s Day. My mother is still here, but many of my friends have lost theirs. I just can’t bring myself to write ads like “Your mother would love this object” when I know people who would give anything for just five more minutes with their mother – and could care less about a vase or a mug or a soap set.
I know there should be a line between thinking like a business owner and thinking like a human being, but that’s not where I choose to cross that line. I believe in treating people fairly, I believe in not taking advantage of others or letting myself being taken advantage of, I believe in equality of service, but I don’t believe I should advertise a certain thing or a certain way just because lots of other people do. I also don’t believe I should be striving to be a wholesale business, or breaking my back trying to get into every store in my state that sells anything remotely like what I make.
Would I make more money if I did? Maybe. But would I feel like I was being true to myself? Nope. If you do? If you advertise a holiday (Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, International Pancake Day, whatever), or you want to only sell wholesale, or you want to be in fifteen retail locations… and it works for you? Fantastic! You take that campaign or ideal and you run with it! But I just can’t make myself. I have to run my business the way my heart tells me to, and in some cases (some holiday advertising, working harder to wholesale, how to sell bigger/stronger/faster) even my head agrees with my heart and says that that’s not the way my business needs to go. If it rings false for me, it’s going to ring false for the people with whom I interact — and I never want you to think I’m false.