"As right-brainers we instinctively go through our own creative process any time we make something new. And as entrepreneurs we’re creating new things in our business all the time. Yet somehow, when it comes to anything business related, we right-brainers presume we must follow an imposed left-brain, linear process."
There is a very traditional archetype of an entrepreneur that is embraced in Western culture – typically a man who has started a tech company. Most business books and other publications are written for this type of entrepreneur. Yet, there are millions of other types of entrepreneurs out there. People who are creative, maybe solo-preneurs and live out their passion every day. Jennifer Lee has recognized this niche of entrepreneurs and writes specifically for them.
In her latest book, Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way, Lee walks readers through a creative and engaging process of building a sustainable business. She calls this process the “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” and analogizes it to that of a flower growing in a garden. That flower doesn’t grow on its own. It requires soil, sunlight, water, and care to thrive. She makes the case that a business needs the same kind of support to grow and thrive. It’s a different take on business development, but one that resonates with right-brain entrepreneurs.
Success Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum
"Sustainable businesses are scalable and resilient. Their owners constantly learn more about and refine their work by cycling through their creative process; they repeat their success and increase their capacity to continue growing on their terms."
The cornerstone of what Lee is proposing is that success in business does not just magically happen. It is the result of intentional and strategic work on the part of the business owner, who takes care of the business and themselves. This concept is summed up by the “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.” Lee suggests that the first and most important step in the process (especially for solo-preneurs) is to admit that they are indeed a business.
The components of the “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” include:
- Defining your big vision
- Knowing your core message
- Identifying inspired actions – these are the things that move you closer to your vision
- Moola goal – your big revenue goal that you’re working towards
- What you offer
- The sun – expert guidance, mentors, inspiring friends and colleagues that you can surround yourself with
- The soil – the information, knowledge and resources you need to grow your business
- The roots – your core values
- The watering can – this represents the important emotional support that you need to thrive
- Honeybees – this represents your customers who flock to the core message (the center of the flower).
Each of these components works together to create and support a strong, thriving business.
Mr. Sketch is Your Friend
"Don’t fret about the itty-bitty details when a simpler solution will yield an even better result."
How many times have you got hung up on a small detail only to find that an entire project starts to get derailed and takes way longer than planned? I can personally attest to this happening multiple times. Lee invites readers to move past the small details and embrace Mr. Sketch. She asks you to think about two equal sized boxes. One you fill in with a ballpoint pen, leaving no white space. The other you fill in Mr. Sketch – a big felt tipped marker. With one stroke, Mr. Sketch will fill in the box while the ballpoint pen takes much more time. Ultimately, you get the same result using two different tools. Lee uses this analogy to remind readers that when presented with two options, always opt for the more efficient one.
Filter Everything Through Your Core Message
"Yet when you can clearly communicate your core message through compelling content, interactions and experiences, your right peeps can’t help but be drawn to you."
Many small businesses really struggle with marketing. John Jantsch echoes this in Duct Tape Marketing by pointing out that the business needs to move away from being just craft/service/product focused. Similarly, Lee suggests that every business needs to define their core message: what do you want people to remember about you and what do you want to stand for? It’s an important component of your marketing that helps you attract the right customers. Lee offers up a few prompts to get the creative juices flowing:
- What are you taking a stand for?
- Name something that upsets or frustrates you
- What do you wish people knew?
- If you could bottle up a magic potion that would change people’s lives for the better, what exactly what that potion do?
- Name something missing from the world that would make it better.
This message should be reflected in everything your business does. Next time you write a blog post, create a product or write a social media post, ask yourself: does this align with my core message? This is a great, quick test to see if you are consistently communicating your message.
Overall, Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way is an enjoyable read. It is a refreshing take on business planning that incorporates fun and creativity into the process.