EDITOR’S NOTE: This article focuses on creative based businesses however the content works for all styles of business.
In the last year or two there has been a subtle shift within business that I’m starting to see more and more. This shift is wanting to feel more authentic in the way we communicate, sell, and show up in and around our businesses. We’ve seen a swing of the authentic come back to social media and a desire to feel less “salesy” when it comes to marketing our businesses. We recognize that we have all fallen into the clutches of a consumerist society AND we also have businesses to run and financial goals to hit in order to provide for our families, take care of employees, and create our own level of security. So how do we find the balance of running a business that sells while also aligning with our own values? We market from a feminine perspective.
The Feminine Vs. Masculine Business Strategy
First and foremost, the divine feminine and the divine masculine both have a space for you in business. The are to halves that make a hole. The divine masculine creates structure, clear boundaries, allows us to take up space and use our voice. All of these things are needed to run a successful business and oftentimes can be the things that actually missing from your strategy.
On the other hand, we live in a masculine dominated society. The foundations of hustle culture come from a masculine way of thinking. To keep building, to grow in power, to have structure that allows for exponential growth, to always be moving and burning energy. When we reach these extremes we move into the area of toxic masculinity, which is simply leaning only into the masculine ways of being and doing and forgetting all about the feminine side.
When we embrace a more feminine way of thinking we open ourselves up to our intuition and what “feels” right. We slow down, we tune-in, we create space. The feminine nature is to create, to inspire, to nourish, ground, and grow. She holds her own kind of strength and boundaries that we can access as well. By tuning into this kind of energy we feel less in your face with our businesses and possibly more in balance with our own values–rest, creation, support, health.
Intuition in Your Business
The journey to a more feminine marketing strategy always starts with intuition–Your gut reaction or listening to your heart. For me, I’m a gut person. I know that when I need help deciding something I have to stop what I’m doing, connect with my breath and literally ask my gut yes or no questions about where to go next. By doing this often enough and noticing the nuances in my body and get quick and clear answers about if something is right for me in this moment. But this doesn’t happen overnight.
How to Reconnect with Intuition
Reconnecting with your intuition can take some time if it’s not something you already do. If you’re anything like me, than most of your life you’ve been told to make decisions based on logic, not instinct. You’ve been told to do the math, make a pros and cons list, to think it out and make a decision. So when you move back into your body and start asking, is this right for me? Should I do this? It can be hard to hear what your intuition has to say. But like all great things, it just takes practice. Its a muscle you have to exercise. So start with meditating or walking. Doing something slow that allows you to connect with your breath. Just start there… breathing. After practicing breathwork for a few weeks maybe go deeper. Notice how different conversations have felt in your body. Where do you feel it when you’re upset? In your chest, in your gut, in your shoulders, in your hips? These are all the usual places that we clench and hold tight. Begin to loosen those areas. To breath into them, to do yoga focused on them. And as you have hard conversations or do tasks you hate doing, notice those areas specifically.
The more you can get to know your body and your reactions the more you can use tools to relieve the tension and stress and then to avoid it altogether.
As you notice what things upset you, make you uncomfortable, stress you out, make you angry, etc. and you notice where in your body you feel this tension you can begin to have conversations with your body. You can ask it “What are you trying to tell me/teach me?”, “Where did I take a wrong turn/ what isn’t working?”, and then listen. That quiet voice that has very few words to say is your gut/heart talking. The loud voice with plenty of words, is your brain. Put that voice on hold while you listen to the quiet one.
Using your Intuition in Business
Once you start building a relationship with your intuition you’ll want to access her as often as possible. When you have a big opportunity you can check in and see if its a right fit. If you want to make a change you can check in. If you feel hopeless, scared, depressed, tired, etc. you can check in and find guidance.
Then you have to follow through.
The most misery we’ll find in our business and life is when we go against our intuition. Sure we can grin and bear it and maybe it will turn out wonderful in the end, but the process to get there is almost always life sucking. Which isn’t how we want to have to live through our businesses.
So tune-in. See how things feel in your body. Ask you gut/heart for their opinion. And then make a decisions. One of the beautiful things about the feminine energy is that it is not binary. It doesn’t have to be this or that but could be a hundred different variations of things. So if something feels icky to you, see if you can use the feminine energy to create a new something that makes you feel better about the final decision.
Example: You have a commission that’s coming up with a highly demanding client. You already hate working for this client but are just beginning. You really need the money so you don’t want to lose them. You see the options as either A. you take the job and be miserable or B. you leave the job and be poor. But the truth is that you can create a variety of options that lead to creating boundaries, giving them so much say in the process, educating them on why you need to do it a certain way etc. There is always a chance that B. could happen and you lose the job. But more often than not, worst case scenarios don’t actually happen. It’s something only slightly not ideal that will happen vs. the very worst. Keep that in mind when you are playing devil’s advocate in your mind (and also, get out of your mind and back into your body).
Cycle Based Business
If you aren’t familiar with your menstrual cycle (Or men, your 24-hour cycle) I first and foremost encourage you to go learn about that. It’s a life-changing tool to understand your body and how you work even from a scientific standpoint. By knowing what phase you’re in you’ll also know your energy level, creative levels, and how much communication or people time you need. It’s powerful information to have as you run your business.
Cycles are a part of nature. We have busy seasons (Summer) and slow seasons (Winter) just like what we’ll see in our business cycles (Whether they match those months or are on a different schedule, there are still slow and busy times). What nature has to teach us is that we need times of rest. In the slow seasons this is when we can build up energy and begin again in the creation phases. When we go, go, go all the time, it dries up our reservoir of energy and our libido (life force) dries up too. This is when we find the first stages of burn-out. So, it’s important to schedule time for rest. On a weekly, quarterly and yearly basis. Weekly it might be an evening to ourselves to meditate, do yoga, take a bath, watch a hallmark movie, journal, whatever. Quarterly this could be a long weekend to do nothing, to focus on a separate project, or to be with friends and family. Yearly this could look like an extended vacation, time off on social media, or closing up shop so you can focus on new ideas, collections, and collaborations for the next year.
Especially as artists, cycles are a huge part of who we are. The creation phase is only part of the cycle. Which means we need to create space to hit the other phases so that we can continue to create and feel energized by our work. Not depleted and running on desperation.
When we build something we are moving outside of ourselves, going into the world to create. But we have to come back home often to recharge, redirect, and get inspired. The Creation process, as described in Women Who Run With Wolves is: Inspiration, Concentration, Organization, Implementation, + Sustenance. The first two phases have to happen inside, the next two phases happen outside, and the last stage is a balance of both.
Find your cycle
Just like intuition, you have to find your own cycle. Its about coming back to who you are and what you need. If you are a woman, you’ll want to start with your menstrual cycle and make decisions based on where you are in your 4 phases. (A great resource for learning more is the book WomanCode.) But it doesn’t have to only be about your hormones.
On any given day you know how much energy you have. If you scheduled 4 meetings today but can’t think straight, see if you can’t reschedule as many meetings as possible. If you aren’t at your best, these meetings won’t be powerful for you anyways. If you can’t reschedule what other tools can you use to recharge before them meetings and give you life. Maybe it’s choosing not to check email today and instead do a 15-minute yoga flow or meditation practice. Maybe it’s brewing a tea that sounds good to you and being present to that full process.
The idea is to tune-in and hear what your body is telling you. If you don’t have energy or really don’t want to be around people, do what you can to honor that. Sometimes you have to do things that don’t align with your energy, but when possible make shifts. Honor your capacity.
As an artist, I know that my best creative time is in the afternoon. Which means I try to only schedule things in the morning leaving the time I can do my best painting open to do just that. Now, there are days this doesn’t happen, but 80% of the time, I have 1 pm- 5 pm blocked off and no one can touch it. (If you’ve scheduled a free call with me for Business coaching you’ll notice this on my calendar).
Learn what your cycles are–Daily, monthly, yearly– and make adjustments to your calendar to fit those needs. It all starts with noticing, going back to how this feels in your body, and then making changes for the future so that you support yourself and your capacity.
Consistency in Business
Along with cycles we talk a lot about consistency in business. This often feels like it goes against the cycle way of thinking but it doesn’t it just means looking at a larger timeline.
In traditional marketing strategy we talk about being consistent in sending a newsletter or on your social media accounts and we gage this on a week or monthly basis. But consistency doesn’t have to be limited to that. We want consistency over the course of a year or multiple years.
In feminine approaches to business, consistency is more importantly based in your messaging than how often you send the message.
When we talk about consistency in cycles it might look like having season’s when you show up daily and seasons when you show up monthly or take the whole time off. This could mean having a podcast that goes out weekly for 6-months and never for the following 6-months. There is consistency within the cycle. It could mean that during the summer you post to social everyday but in the winter you post weekly or that you take an entire month (or 3) away from social to get reinspired by it. Look at your business as a year long cycle and keep the consistency with yearly trends (Every August I take the month off from sending a newsletter, or during the winter, I post less and during the summer, I post more.)
Consistency isn’t black and white and can look a million different ways.
Your Permission Card to Say No
You have the right to say no to anything and everything. Period. You don’t want to work with a client, you don’t want to change your painting style for someone, you decided this isn’t actually a good fit for you, you can say no.
We often think that we have to say yes to every opportunity, and in the beginning we do it because we need the money or want to build an audience. But the longer you’re in business the more you’ll refine your brand and realize who the right kind of clients, projects, opportunities are. If they don’t align with what you’re trying to build, say no.
I like to do a gut meditation at least once a week. During this time I find a calm spot in my home to close my eyes and connect with my breath. As the world starts to quiet around me and I’m fully focused on my breath I’ll say to my brain, “Hey brain, thanks for all that you do, but right now I need you to be quiet so I can listen to my gut (or heart, or spirit, whatever you want to call it.)” Then I proceed to ask questions to my gut. For the most part, our guts respond best to yes or no questions. You’ll get a rising up excited feeling for a yes, and a sinking feeling from a no. The more you practice this, the more you’ll know what these feel like. Sometimes I can even get one word answers, but to start, focus on yes and no questions. From there I just ask away and see what I find. Should I do this project? Do I like working with this person? Should I include this offering? Do I have too much on my plate? All of these are great questions to ask and see what your gut says. Then the hard part is following what your gut shared.
The more you can tune in with yourself and use your body as your guide (not your head) the more you’re following feminine energy.
It’s easy to get lost in other people’s opinions but the one that comes from inside you, while the quietest, is the most important. She knows you best and will guide you to the right opportunities that will allow you to do your best work.
Question how its Always Been Done
Every course and book I’ve read on marketing and business has given me a recipe, a clear structure. This is a very masculine way of doing business. There isn’t nothing wrong with it but almost everyone in business is using it. More importantly, because everyone is using these methods they are most likely the stepping stones to building a business that leads to burn out. Afterall, that seems to be one of the biggest issues in our businesses and careers today.
So I’ve started questioning how things are done.
You’re told you need an ideal client profile. Do you really need one? Personally, I think this is super valuable but honestly, the first few years of business I don’t know that it mattered because I was selling to anyone. Now, as my brand gets more refined, by ideal customer is more refined based on who I’ve seen buy from me. So while every marketer tells you to start here, it might make more sense to define this at year 1 or 2 of your business.
You’re told you have to be on social media. Do you really need to be? That’s up to you and your time and passion for using social. So many artists I talk to hate social media so I tell them to get off it. If you aren’t seeing growth in your business from it, there is no reason to keep using it. If you are seeing growth, then it might be redefining how you show up on there.
This can go on and on forever.
Question what you’re told to do in business (except maybe when it comes to taxes and the government) and check in with your intuition to decide if its right for you. You might start with the structures that the books and courses teach you and as you progress know that you get to change directions when it feels right.
Language that Creates Space, Not Pressure
We see what the masses are being told and then you get to question it. How does this serve diversity in our businesses (I can almost guarantee that most of these structures are not thinking of minorites when building these businesses.) So maybe you want to make your language more inclusive even if you are trying to reach a specific audience because you know that he/she vocabulary doesn’t work for you, or your ideal customer. Or maybe you recognize that not everyone will think $35 is “only” $35. (When we phrase marketing as “it’s only $____” that can still be a lot of money to someone). Instead, you choose to talk about your pricing in a way that doesn’t make those in the lower income brackets feel like they aren’t seen.
Diversity, Equity, and inclusivity is not taught in marketing classes, especially when we are looking at online courses. When we use this lens in our businesses it changes a lot of the rules. In feminine based marketing, that’s encouraged.
Come up with new ways that you can speak to people in a way you know will build a deeper connection. Especially as artists, building a bond with others will only help them to connect with your art on a deeper level.
Stay Small, Avoid Exponential Growth
Paul Jarvis’ book, Company of One, is one of my all time favorites. While he’s building more of a start-up type business (with one person) many of the principles still apply to your art business.
Focus on your minimum viable income (MVI). Instead of thinking “I want to be a 6-figure artist,” think, I need $X to be able to survive. And that’s what I focus on. As long as I hit that goal I’m doing great, if I’m below it, something has to change, if I’m above hand me a bottled coke and let’s celebrate. But there is no pressure to go above. And to continuously hit above.
Growth that is never ending is called cancer.
I don’t want that in my business or my life. Instead, I was to be growing as an artist, as a person, and allowing myself time to do the things that matter most to me in this lifetime–which doesn’t include hitting 7-figures, because what kind of lifestyle am I going to have to hold in order to do that?
So stay small. There is nothing wrong with being a one-woman show. There is nothing wrong with making enough to keep you family happy and having more time to spend with them. There is nothing wrong with no everyone knowing who you are (just ask Brad Pitt)
Business From a Feminine Energy
It’s soft, it’s slow, it honors the cycles of energy we hold daily, monthly, seasonally. The source of feminine energy is meant to be nourishing, grounding, expanding, and subtle. While the divine masculine will allow you to build strong boundaries and take up more space, the feminine will give you permission to not do it all, to explore creative solutions, and to always honor the needs of your body first.
Running your art based business from an feminine energy source gives you the permission to do things your way. You can always tune in to the masculine for some structure when you’re starting out, but the more you get to know your brand and yourself, the more I think you’ll enjoy doing businesses with a bit of softness and flow.
That’s the gift of feminine energy. That’s the balance of these two energy sources.