18 Mar

InSPIRED Business

So, is it possible to be professional AND spiritual in business?

My spirituality is a fundamental – and substantial – part of me. I can’t separate my philosophical and religious thoughts, ideas and practices from the things I do any more than I could remove our massive flat screen TV from the living room wall. Certainly not without a struggle, swearing, a huge mess, and a cacophony of unnecessary and disruptive emotions.

As far as what constitutes a healthy spiritual practice, anything that makes a human being less of an asshole is a good place to start. Spirituality of this kind can be worked out anywhere, in any way, big or small. I find making my art, exploring my creativity, writing, studying, and holding my space open and safe for those who enter it to be a deeply satisfying and perpetually energizing way to live. I can’t do anything in my personal or my professional life without drawing on something – someone – greater than myself. Yes, I mean God – Goddess, Source, The Universe, whatever.

For me, my business, as with my personal life, is “inspired” – literally – as being energized and moved by Spirit. Working inspired means saying no as often as I say yes. It means examining my motives and delegating my energy intentionally and carefully. It means making self-care a priority. The priority, in fact.

Being an inspired business – a spiritual business – isn’t waving hands over people’s auras or rambling on about woo woo or selling crystals and salt lamps. It means looking for the holy, the sacred, the good and the true in every person, whilst instating and keeping boundaries and safe spaces for all involved. It means operating ethically and honestly. It means showing your true face to people, and speaking your truth to them. It means not trying to take the place of Spirit in their lives, to trick or deceive them, or use guile and inauthenticity to create increase for ourselves, at others expense, financially, emotionally and socially.

It means, simply put, to create a spiritual business practice of not being an asshole. Or, as Kasey’s Dad so succinctly put it, simply not being a dickhead,

Happy inspired business.

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09 Mar

There Is Enough For Everyone

Being a creative and/or a person in business is a challenge in many ways. Not the least when we feel others are out to steal what we believe is ours, be it ideas, customers, a share of the market etc. I know first hand both what it feels like to have something I created blatantly copied by someone I considered a friend, and to be accused of doing the same to someone else. It’s a tough game.
Or is it?
While we definitely need to protect ourselves legally from intellectual property theft and copyright infringements, and the likewise respect the legal rights of others, getting tied up in knots worrying about others “stealing” our ideas and even our customers will drive is crazy. Holding the perception there is only so many ideas and clients to engage with them is basically a poverty mindset, and will inevitably stifle our creativity and growth.
Disengaging our own personal worth from the ideas we have and the products we send into the world is vital for every artist, creative or entrepreneur. Seeing your creation as simply one expression of your vast imagination and resources helps us avoid the paranoid worldview which stifles creativity and makes us wary of others, turning potential allies into enemies.
The fact is, there are enough clients, money, ideas and opportunities for everyone. They don’t run out. The more energy we exert in trying to make everything ours and hoard it, the less energy we have to generate new ideas.
It’s not personal. Take steps to protect what is legally defined as your IP. Let go. Let your creativity and prosperity come through you, rather than merely to you. In this way, we open ourselves up to ideas, people and opportunities in ways we perhaps have only imagined.

25 Feb

Ten Most Common Myths About Success


1. It will look exactly the way you fantasized success would look like. Every i dotted, every t crossed. Every bill up to date, every day filled with gratifying accomplishments and win after win.

Fact: Success won’t necessarily look like a solution to your problems. It usually presents as simply a new set of challenges to be addressed in place of your old challenges. Instead of trying to attain a state of perfection in which all problems are solved, aim to learn from every challenge and failure, breaking old patterns and moving your business and skills forwards and upwards.

2. It will not be stressful, but rather all our stress will go away because of it.

Every set of challenges brings stress as we consider and imagine the possible negative consequences of our actions and inactions, weighing those with the benefits. No initiative can break new ground without our growing into each situation with courage and common sense. Self-care and rest are imperative for stress management. We look after ourselves first, then look after our business. Entrepreneurship is not a cure for stress and workaholism, and neither are it’s fruits. Rather, it’s a classroom where we learn to balance outside interest with self-interest.

3. You won’t make mistakes or take risks that go badly.

You will. Learn from them, take responsibility for them, make good, and move on.

4. Everyone will love both you and everything you do, and broadcast your success to others without a trace of envy or malice.

They won’t. Do it anyway.

5. Most people will notice your little wins, and maybe even comment on them with occasional supportive hurrahs.

They won’t. Do it anyway.

6. Someone will notice. Just a little bit.

Maybe, but don’t count on it. Do it anyway.

7. You won’t care if no one notices you and what you’re doing.

You will care. It will hurt and you will be discouraged, angry and want to give up. Don’t.

8. You will have a really big pile of money.

Let’s hope so. But piles of money do not solve problems. They simply bring different ones.

9. Money will inevitably follow because you’re doing what you love, without your caring if it does or not because of your perpetual state of ecstatic bliss at being able to work at what you enjoy despite the long hours, exhausting effort and largely invisible state in which you accomplish small miracles on a daily basis.

Maybe. Probably not, but perhaps. Probably eventually. In any case, just keep going. Wherever “there” is for you, head for that. Overshoot a little, even. It can’t hurt.

10. Success is the point.

Where is this “there” you keep saying you’ll arrive at one day? What’s your goal – do you know what or where it is? What does success actually look like for you? Are you certain you’re not aiming for someone else’s picture of it? How will you know you’ve achieved it? Perhaps you already have? Maybe being on the way is the way?

So many of us wallow in discontent in our endeavors simply because we don’t have a clear definition of success which rings true for us. Once we have defined our motives, run a reality check on our values and expectations and put some clever strategies in place to protect our resources and our energies, we can begin to move more steadily along the plane of progress. Success may be less a place to arrive at than it is a way of being in where and what we have and are now. Success is attitude rather than altitude. Aim high, but carry snacks and take time to enjoy the view.

Jo Hilder

21 Feb

Your Business Is A Safe Space, And It’s Up To You To Keep It

You’ve heard me speak about safe spaces before, about creating, holding and keeping them. Your venture, enterprise or business is a kind of safe space, into which you invite others who become your customers, patrons, tribe and/or ambassadors. Your skill as a micro business owner operator is to know how to create and safe space, and learn and keep the guidelines which make it a place where the best of people can prosper.

But here’s something many small business owners and operators neglect, or even deliberately overlook.

Your space isn’t safe if it isn’t also safe for you.

For some months after we opened a year ago, a woman would come into the shop quite regularly, not to purchase anything, but mostly to download her problems. She would try on clothing, look around, ask for items to be put on hold, but I don’t remember if she actually purchased anything in all that time. After a while, whenever she entered the shop I would feel anxious and know I would need to be careful not to find myself standing for an hour listening to her unpack her terrible story to me, or to my mum, who helps out. No doubt, she was going through a hard time, however she did disclose she was seeing a qualified mental health professional to help her deal with it. Knowing she was supported certainly helped me draw a line behind which I knew I needed to stay, or I was at risk of being drained every time this person came into my space.

The last time she was in the shop was to ask me to hold an item **again** for her, with the list of terrible things that happened this week which she felt justified my removing the item from sale for another period of time. To clarify, we don’t hold items, I don’t have the room to store them, and we turn items over so quickly it’s simply not tenable. But her sad story and the long telling of it had moved my poor mum to agree simply to placate her and hasten her leaving the shop, as she was more than a handful, and it took all our patience and skill to provide a competent service to her, and any other customers who happened to be in the shop at the time. So she came in to read me her long list of sad reasons I needed to bend store policy and keep the item off the rack for her, and I gently told her that the item needed to be purchased today or would be returned to stock. After all, I run a shop, I conduct transactions. The customers inclement circumstances may at times impact the nature of these transactions, but at my discretion. That’s the skill of holding space. It’s called boundaries. And as the space holder and keeper, if you don’t set boundaries and make them clear, someone will walk right up and start making demands which make you wish you thought about boundaries approximately ten years ago.

So I told this customer, no. I’m returning the item to the rack today. You may purchase it now, or tomorrow, or next week. However, it isn’t going in my back room again.

What followed was a further litany of reasons I had to acquiesce to her request, mainly because of terrible things she was experiencing in her personal life right now. It felt uncomfortable. I was being manipulated. She was using her own misfortune, pain and unhappiness to get what she wanted from me. And she was not asking for my understanding. She was demanding I obey her. At volume. With wild arm movements. And a finger pointed in my face.

And it is at this point my focus shifts from making safe space for her, and keeping it for myself.

I did not need to ask her to leave, thank goodness, because in a split second of clarity she apparently realized she was becoming hysterical over a shirt, and so she threw one last aspersion at me and left.

I was going to ask her to leave. I felt threatened, and I was being verbally attacked. Her response to the situation was uncivil and disproportionate. Whilst I empathize with her circumstances, I’m not her counselor, nor am I obliged to provide her with additional services or favours because of them. She is not welcome to come back, because in my space, there are boundaries, and I am the one who keeps them. My customers, both the ones who come to conduct appropriate business, and those who don’t, need to know this.

If the space isn’t safe for us as well as for our customers, the space isn’t safe at all.

Comments and responses welcome.

20 Feb

It’s Okay To Be A Woman Who Doesn’t Enjoy Going To Women’s Gatherings And Events

What happens when you like the company and support of other women, but you’re not interested in joining a “circle” or being part of a group?

Nothing happens.

Look, I know there are times we women crave the support and connection we can only receive from other women. There’s nothing like it when you’re feeling isolated or perhaps even victimized by circumstances or situations. When you have young children, for example, or in abuse situations. Finding others who share similar experiences to us can be so valuable for our social, emotional and mental health, even our physical safety.

We chicks need to stick together.

But as a fifty year old woman, personally I’m growing more comfortable with my own company as I grow older. Combine this with some frankly horrible experiences in the past, and I’m now quite selfish with my private time, and find less and less I need the company or community of other women in a concentrated social situation.

My closest friends know this about me. I like it when we can just hang out and talk about real stuff. I don’t like small talk. Funny how most of us don’t, or say we don’t, and yet we willingly perpetuate these situations where the conversation is stunted and will never move beyond the level of surface chatter.

I may seem like the kind of person who would enjoy going to events and being part of women’s circles and groups. But I’m going to be brave here and admit I don’t. I was involved for over thirty years in various spiritual communities of different sizes in many places, including online, and I’ve seen and been through enough. I am the kind of person who can’t simply “attend” – and inevitably I end up as that person who is “too much”. Too intense, too overbearing, too wanting to be involved, help, make it better, bring my thing and be part of it. And sometimes my “too much” was welcomed, engaged with, rostered on and given all the avenues it so deeply desired to run down, because that’s how creativity works, right? But I understand now that the particular requirements of the paradigm I chose do not honor artists, because artists are free-thinkers, explorers and wilderness dwellers. So I broke up my long term relationship with evangelical Christianity, and followed my heart out beyond the walls.

I spent a little while gathering up the lost and lonely disenfranchised before realizing the adage of being healed from what truly hurt us lest we bleed on those who didn’t cut us is so very and sadly true. Trying to convince the deeply institutionalized they can survive independently without being all clumped up together under the banner of being “like-minded” was like trying to cut my own head off with a bread knife – pointless, and painful. So I stopped rescuing people from group-think and went my way, demonized, resentful and happy to be the bad guy if it meant I got to spend more time by myself.

By this time, I’d learned it was okay to be alone, to be thought of poorly, to not have a group of like-minded people around me, and to pick and choose when, where and how I engaged with “community”. Which turns out to be infrequently, wherever I like and however I like. I don’t go everywhere I’m invited, and never, ever do I go where someone tells me “God needs you and what you have to offer, Jo.”

God does not “need” me, or what I have, and I’m not “robbing” God of either by staying in one place and not arriving at another. That’s pretty sick spiritual codependency bull crap right there.

But I digress.

It’s okay to not want to be involved in social huddles or special events carefully thought out to appeal to you, even if they really, really do. It’s all right to not want to form new ties with different people and incite in oneself new feelings of belonging or longing, or obligation. It’s okay to not want to join a circle, go to a group, network, or give your energy to new and different things. It’s all right to like your own company, mind your own business, and not turn up to things. Beware of FOMO* – it’s a real thing.

*(fear of missing out)

I say all this because there are so many events on we could all get along to, events designed to enrich, inform and enlighten us, and they absolutely could, should we decide to go there. But you know what? Also, no. You don’t have to. You’re not “needed” by God or anyone else to fill a gap or take a position. Does that concern or upset you? Maybe that’s a bit of work to take on right now. There is no lack in the bigger scheme, all is in balance, you are enough. Go, if you like, don’t, if you will. The you who decides to become part of that business, spiritual or social community is a whole person going in, and won’t be more whole coming out. You’re okay, and it’s okay to like your own company.


JO x

19 Feb

Why Your Purpose Is Not The Same As A “Hustle”.

I’m not keen on the term “hustle” used relating to small business. Actually, I despise it.
See the graphic shared with this post for why.

Words matter. The smaller the enterprise, the greater the meaning and impact little things have on your mindset and actions.
When you’re a micro-business, perceptions about you, and that you have, are not lessened by your size – they’re magnified.
Your intention setting matters. Your motivation matters. Your purpose and goals matter.

Think carefully about your definition(s) of what you do, even if you only ever kept these to yourself. Calling your business a “hustle” is virtually describing it and what you do as definitively lacking integrity, as categorically self-centred rather than broadly focused, as using guile and gaining advantage by a kind of “white” deceit. If you were to tell a client your service to them was a “hustle”, what do you think they will surmise?

My business is not a hustle. I’m not practicing sleight of hand here, nor am I doing some kind of commerce-burlesque behind giant red feathers to get people to part with their dosh. When you do dealings with me, what you see is what you get. Integrity is important to me, and so I don’t give my business my “all” – I keep some of myself back for me, protecting it carefully, so what I do give is honest and sustainable. My values are plain to see. I care about people, and I want them to become more of who they truly are, whilst I, through my business, do the same. That is not a hustle. That’s purpose.

My challenge to you, little business owner, as you navigate your way in the sea of entrepreneurship. Think about whether you can keep up the “hustle” you’re supposed to want, or you’d prefer to get up each day living the dream you know you do.

14 Feb

Tired Is Not A Life Skill.

They say it like it’s a badge of honour, as if pushing through our exhaustion, or hanging on when we want to let go is some sort of achievement of itself. But sometimes letting go is exactly what’s needed, even if just for a time. Stepping away, or even just taking a rest, may be essential for our own health and that of our interest or enterprise.

There are no such thing as “tireless” advocates, entrepreneurs, artists, activists or human beings. We all get bored, frustrated, jaded, angry, exhausted and disillusioned. And these are legitimate feelings and experiences we can learn from, and which sometimes must be obeyed. Tirelessness, relentless activity, keeping on as if we had something to prove, these can be toxic to us and the things and people we love. Listening to our bodies and to our intuition, reading the signals of circumstances and seasons, knowing when it’s time to hold on and time to let go, these things are wisdom, and sometimes we learn the hard way. The term “tireless” sounds great in magazine articles and podium introductions, but it’s not real. We tire, and only we can give ourselves permission to accept we do, and take rest in whatever form is necessary.
“Tireless” is not a life skill or an achievement of itself. You are allowed to become frustrated, jaded and exhausted. You are allowed to stop and do something different, or differently. Don’t be tempted into relentless activity by the desire to be known as a “tireless” achiever. Give yourself a break, friend.

31 Jan

Do You Love Your Micro-Business?

Oh look. Yet another self-meme with a smiling face appealing to your nagging doubts about whether your small business is the best it can be. I bet she’s rich as f__k, skinny as hell and spends eleven months of the year running her empire from a laptop while she reclines beside a pool in her villa in Bali?
Er, no.
I am not rich or skinny, and I’ve never been to Bali. Running my business from my laptop sounds about as boring as batsh$t.
I get out of bed every morning and it’s all I can do to remember to eat breakfast and shower so I can get to my business and start doing what I love.
I don’t even wear makeup because I don’t see the point – my pleasure and satisfaction at being able to be where I love doing what I’m passionate about makes me feel on the inside what makeup can only try to achieve on my outside.
It’s just a little shop in a little suburb of one place on a map most people have never heard of. I spend all day either sewing, or making jewelry, or writing, or keeping my little space enjoyable and tranquil for the people who come through my door.
And I am, in all the ways that matter, happy. Truly happy.
Money challenges will always be there, because no matter how much we have, it brings a set of problems as well as solutions. Things get me down, as unexpected factors and unpredictable people bring me new challenges. But I would not have it any other way.
Being happy is the point. I promise you this. Not money, not success. Both of these are alleged paths to what we really crave. Joy. Bliss. A sense of pride and ownership over our lives and achievements. Bringing others joy through giving of our gifts, talent and skills. Money, the villa in Bali, the admiration of your peers and the perks are really just sidelines to what is really, in the end, going to make it all worthwhile.
You knowing how to be happy, where you are, doing what you know and love, with what you have, making your corner of the world and the lives of people in it a little better.
If learning how by understanding your why sounds better than signing up to your twenty-hundredth six-step online program to six figures, let’s talk.


12 Jun

Depression Doesn’t Care About Your First World Solutions

DEPRESSION DOESN’T CARE ABOUT WHERE OR HOW YOU LIVE. (**Trigger warning – discussion about suicide)

I think the world is messed up, big parts of it anyway. The bit I live in, however, is comparatively great. The problems I’m subject to by default of living here would be generally known as “first world problems”. So let’s be clear. The problems of the world, society or our immediate community, unless we live in conditions of considerable duress or oppression such as in detention or forced isolation, or subject to violence, are unlikely to make us suicidal.

Generally speaking, people in the Western world are not suffering from depression and wanting to harm themselves because life is hard and the world is or seems awful. They want to leave the world because that seems like a way of helping everyone else.

People say suicide is selfish. From my experience, when you’re having the thoughts, it seems like the most selfless thing in the world. It seems like the thing which will most better the lives of the people you care about. It’s the only way you can think of to give them relief from the fucked up waste of space that is you and all the shit that comes with you.

Depressed persons don’t end their lives because they are bored of their spoiled lives and success, or because they feel the world is awful and they want to leave. They do it because it seems like the most logical way to break through the dead end we reach every day, trying to come up with a solution for the way we think and feel about things, and about ourselves. It’s being unable to step outside ourselves and our thoughts any more, and becoming completely identified with our perceptions and responses. It’s being tired of waking up and thinking, I don’t think I can go around in this circle in my head again. I just can’t do it.

Ending ones own life is certainly a tragedy. It hurts others, which is not ever the intention of the one leaving. However, I want that we also honor the choice to leave. It took courage, and the best interests of those of us left behind were without doubt in mind. They did not believe there was any other option, and for that we may in time forgive them. As one who has felt those feelings and thought those thoughts, I can say it was the thought of what my actions would bring upon my family, and realizing I did in fact believe they loved me and would suffer loss, that gave me faith enough to wait it out. But I do not judge those who decide not to. We will all be together again in time.

Nothing that is loved ever dies.
Jo xxx

11 Jun

When A Foot In The Door Isn’t Enough.


I like to support local makers and artisans via my shop. I also know what it’s like trying to bridge the gap into retail and reach people with your goods when you don’t have a shop or market stall. That’s why when people come in and ask if they can show me what they make, depending on what it is, I will usually say yes. (Sorry to the lady who hoped last week I’d stock her State Of Origin cushions, but kudos for asking.)
I appreciate it takes courage to front up to a shop owner and ask for a foot in the door, that’s why I try to help by giving one. But here’s the surprise. For every one who comes back with their goods, one I never see again, even though I expressed positive interest in their product.
I believe for many of us, the hardest part isn’t breaking the ice, it’s actually following through. I think some people expect me to say no, and are so surprised I say yes that they don’t know, or aren’t ready to do, what comes next. So they do nothing.
I’ve been threatening to write a certain book for years now. I have drafts all over the place for if. It even has a great title. But all that stuff is easy. Saying “I am writing a book” and making a play at it, talking about it and even designing pretty covers for it is fun and easy. I could even sell that damn book right now just on the concept, I know it. It sounds like a breakthrough to say I know I can write that book. But that’s not the breakthrough. That will come when I actually do it.
I encourage you, you may be thinking appropriate your idea, or someone with your idea, is the hard part. It’s not. Get that over with, because it’s a breeze compared with what’s next. Following through. Now that takes some guts. Best get started now. ????? #smallbusinessadvice #footinthedoor #followthrough

09 Jun

Influencer, Or Influence?

I am not aligned with the concept of the social media “influencer”. Whilst I appreciate it’s a legitimate profession, it is no more or less than garden variety sales. Maya Angelou is an influence. Oprah Winfrey is an influence. Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert are influences – not “influencers”. We are impacted and inspired by who they are, by their risk-taking and their inroads into uncharted territory. We are empowered to rise, to venture, to grow. Yes, we buy their books or subscribe to their podcasts, but their influence is such that we need not be initiated into their tribes with pennies and pounds. Their voices ring truth inside us, call us out, draw us forward. That’s influence.
It’s fine to be influenced. It doesn’t make us gullible or stupid. There is however a difference between being an “influencer”, and being an influence. We are the difference. With one, we serve to empower her, and with the other, she serves to empower us. You choose which perspective resonates with your values. Because trust me – you know how to choose for yourself. ??? #influencer #influence #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship

06 Feb

Don’t You Dare Say Sorry

I caught myself earlier today, about to apologise to someone who asked me if I would discount one of my pieces by almost half to match her offer.

I thought to myself, why do I need to say sorry?

There was also no need to be impolite, so I carefully worded a brief response.

If I were to accept her lower offer, I basically cut in half my compensation for the time and creativity I put into the piece. The price was set after careful consideration of the hours I spent making it, and the materials. Those materials didn’t drop out of the air – I spend hours every day sourcing fabrics and other pieces.

I feel our widespread attitude of cheap, fast fashion made by low paid workers, flooding the market with mass produced, low quality clothing is behind this. We don’t have any value for the time spent making the products we consume any more.

I value my time. I value my talent. I value the creativity I’ve spent years honing, and give hours of in my studio. I won’t apologise for asking an appropriate compensation for that. And if you’re a maker, neither should you.

Save your sorry for when you make a mistake or commit a wrong against someone. Don’t you dare give it when someone questions what your gifts, talents and time are worth. Asking to be compensated for being brilliantly yourself is not grounds for an apology.

Jo xx