With the holiday season fast approaching, I thought I’d share today some musings on the starving artist myth, Small Business Saturday and how being vulnerable leads to true connection.
I’ve found that the “starving artist” myth can quickly become a reality for creatives (and in general, solopreneurs) as we struggle for visibility and authenticity in a media-saturated world, and that takes being vulnerable to a much deeper level.
Being a solopreneur may make for some uncertainty in my everyday life, but I know that same vulnerability can organically create a safe space for my community, all of you, to gather. And that is really want I want to do – to build a community of people from all walks of life who are committed to being vulnerable, authentic, creating true connection, and creating more harmony in the world.
Here’s an example of the starving artist myth and vulnerability:
There are more than 70,000 words in my book about living and working in Costa Rica (edited down from 100,000, thanks to my editor and fellow small business owner, Kieta) and each of those words tell my stories, reflect my soul. The process of writing helped me recognize that the truth of living in Costa Rica was stranger than fiction.
Even more, though, writing this book gave me the hope that my words would support and uplift others who endeavor to live their ONE beautiful life. To find contentment amongst the chaos, wherever they may be. To appreciate every sanguine moment.
I feel so honored to have won an award for Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana: Wildhearted Living in an Imperfect World, but even if I could rack up enough sales to bump me onto the NY Times Best Sellers list, what matters to me more than the accolades is reaching more people with my story and the lessons I’ve learned on how to accept the beautiful moments along with the not-so-ideal ones and show up every day with heart and purpose, creating meaningful, positive ripples out into the world.
Small businesses like mine (and yours!) typically don’t have a huge marketing or advertising budget to get eyes on the work we so passionately create. But I think that makes small business owners smarter, more scrappy — we maximize our time to focus on the customer, often learning through experience and direct interaction, emphasizing quality over quantity.
As consumers, we have an opportunity to connect with the small business owners who harness their vulnerability and become their brand – who walk their talk.
By supporting small businesses, we support the growth of our local communities and that improves the ecosystem for all of us, around the world, in so many different ways.
Small, purpose-driven businesses who engage in direct and fair trade have such a deep well of stories to draw from — their own stories, as well as stories of artisans, collaborators and suppliers, the sounds and smells of their wares’ places of origin.
Creative entrepreneurs have the unique opportunity to tell their tales directly through the art they create, whether that’s a book, a painting, a piece of music.
For nearly two decades now, I have made it a priority to support small business owners and buy fair trade whenever I can, because I care about the lives of the people who create the things I consume.
My move to Costa Rica and journey into entrepreneurship (both of which at times have felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) opened my eyes even further to all small businesses and the challenges that we face — especially our competition with the corporations of the world.
Small Business Saturday vs. Black Friday
Black Friday in the United States is this Friday , directly followed on the 28th by Small Business Saturday. Will you stand in line to purchase the latest and greatest big-brand electronic gadget or bargain basement mass-produced clothing? (no judgment – just something to think about!)
Or are there small-business-owning friends, family or colleagues who you can choose to support and share your dollars, pesos and pounds with?
I would challenge you to make the choice to connect with the stories behind a small business, to support the work and the authenticity of the creative entrepreneur. You’ll find your gifts much richer for it, and it may make all the difference for the business owner [and for you!].
If you’re ready to start making the shift from Black Friday to Small Business Saturday, to support small businesses and creative entrepreneurs across the globe, here’s how you might start:
- Dig deep: Whether you’re shopping from small, local businesses in the United States or artisans abroad, the labels might not give you the information you need — that’s why it’s important to get to know who you’re buying from. Read their websites and blogs, or if you’re purchasing from them directly, ask questions and listen deeply.
- Read labels: Look at where the item originated, and keep your eyes open for Fair Trade, Direct Trade or charity partnerships. Small businesses tend to be involved in social impact, and often use a percentage of sales to invest in organizations doing good in the world.
- Go local: Not only is shopping from local businesses a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s also a great way to spin some hard-earned cash around your community economy. And co-ops are fantastic places for finding local products — they’re also more likely to treat their staff fairly, as well as their local suppliers.
- And last but not least, keep these musings of mine in the back of your mind and remember to support not only Small Business Saturday but Small Business Every Day.
If you’re interested in supporting my small business, I’d be honored if you checked out my online training (here!), or find a place for my book or one of my wellness programs on your holiday shopping list — or your own list for Santa.
Over to you: Do you have any other small businesses you’re looking forward to supporting this year? Share the love in the comments!