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The art of self-recognition and reward: a creative business owner's reality check

Woman looking at the camera, but hiding the rest of her face with a present wrapped in a bow
Ah, but do you deserve it?

You may have heard me say before that running a business is like riding a rollercoaster – it’s thrilling but with its fair share of stomach-churning drops. It all starts with an audacious idea, a passion for something, or a skill you're itching to share with the world.

As a creative small business owner, what often gets left behind in the rush of running the business is recognition of your own worth and rewarding yourself with a proper pat on the back. I’ve noticed in conversations with many, many business owners that we are spectacularly bad at this!

Here, I share the downsides of not recognising yourself, your efforts and your achievements, followed by the oh-so-sweet benefits of acknowledging your hard work, sweat and tears.

The downsides of not recognising and rewarding yourself

Chap pulling a large paper bag over his head
Who are you hiding your achievements from?

Burnout and exhaustion

Running your business can be a bit like sprinting in a marathon without pausing to catch your breath. Rushing on to the next thing. And the next thing... This constant grind without acknowledging your effort or achievements can leave you collapsed in a heap with your enthusiasm and creativity AWOL.

I’m assuming you’d like to still be running and growing your business in a year’s time? You need to play a longer, more fun game.

Falling self-esteem

Running your own business ought to make you feel great - at least some of the time! But when you don't acknowledge and celebrate your effort and achievements, your self-esteem can take a nosedive.

Clue: are you made of Teflon when it comes to others complementing you? If you answer yes, you aren’t doing your confidence any favours.

And what is your boss like? I recall when I was running my garden design business, I behaved appallingly to myself; never satisfied, never enough. Would you put up with this from anyone else? That didn’t do my self-esteem any good. Doubts creep in, you start second-guessing yourself, self-criticism takes over, and you can start wondering if you're any good at all.

Diminishing creativity

Creativity is closely linked to your self-expression and self-confidence, and it thrives in a positive, nurturing environment. You know it can be like a delicate flower that wilts without the right care.

Research by Adobe found that if you don’t acknowledge your own brilliance, you risk putting more pressure on yourself which can really stifle your ability to stay curious and play.

Straining relationships

When you're a small business owner, your work often becomes your new best friend. And it can become all-consuming, especially if you’re under urgent financial pressure. Don’t I know it?!

Research shows that dissatisfaction in your achievements (which can be exaggerated by not recognising what you are achieving) can lead to negative effects on your relationships and a growing sense of isolation for you.

Missing opportunities

The frame of mind that doesn’t recognise your effort and achievement is rather closed. By keeping a more open and generous mindset, you’ll be naturally more open to exciting new opportunities – possible collaborations, partnerships, and ventures... OK, I think you’ll have got the message about the bad stuff, so what about the really good stuff, in addition to all those lovely rewards you could give yourself?!

The benefits of recognising and rewarding yourself

You’ll notice a theme of rewarding effort here (and not just the big achievements):

Oodles of motivation, confidence and increasing ambition

Rewarding yourself for your effort along the way, as well as for your achievements, encourages you to not only keep going but also to set and reach new, increasingly ambitious goals. When you see the tangible results of your hard work, you become more motivated to strive for even greater success. What a confidence boost!

Sustaining a positive mindset

Recognising your efforts helps you sustain a positive mindset, even when your achievements feel a long way off. When you celebrate your efforts as well as your big and small successes, you train your brain to focus on the positive aspects of your journey, and you'll find it easier to overcome challenges and setbacks.

Two colourful bobble-eyed sock puppets
Isn't running your own business supposed to be fun?

Even more creativity and fun

By recognising your own creativity and rewarding yourself for your efforts,

especially in a creative way, you can create a cycle of fun inspiration - which is essential for generating new ideas and keeping your business fresh and exciting.

Improving your mental wellbeing

When you give yourself permission to do this, you will quickly feel the benefits.

Have I hammered home the message yet? 😉 As a creative business owner, recognising your efforts and rewarding your achievements isn't an indulgence; it's an absolute necessity. Afterall, you’re in this for the long-haul, aren’t you?

So, what are you going to do recognise and reward yourself?

I recommend doing a brain dump right now of all the possible rewards you can think of.

Colourful ideas board with 3D objects, such as a lightbulb, all made of paper
Oooo so many things to choose from...

Create a list that you can turn to whenever you need inspiration. And keep adding to it.

For instance, you might have an Amazon shopping list from which to select your treat, according to the size of the effort or achievement.

And of course, rewards don’t always need to cost money.

However, please note: A reward isn’t something you would have had anyway. And the warm glow of achieving something isn’t good enough either!

And whenever you set a goal, identify points along the way where you will reward yourself. If you don’t put the effort in you don’t get the reward, but if you do... ENJOY YOUR VICTORIES BIG AND SMALL!

And why not reward yourself with a free one-to-one with me to discuss you and your business...


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