Call me biased, but I’m starting to think that high-end service providers have figured out the secret to life.
You own the levers to your revenue stream…
You have a built-in growth mindset…
Your creativity has an outlet…
You get to work with and learn from other businesses…
You build a like-minded network…
For a long time, I looked at service providers in one of two ways: either as freelancers who charged by the hour and got trampled on by clients, or as agencies that overcharged their clients in the hopes of not missing payroll that month.
I don’t know where this idea came from which can only mean one thing: it’s a stereotype floating around in the air and others think it too.
But after three years of coaching an array of service providers at Shopify, I discovered a third type: the fabulous solopreneur who only works with top-notch clients they resonate with (and becomes friends with), who charges a premium for their executive brain (not pennies for hourly work), and who considers their business to be precious artwork (handled with pride and white satin gloves).
This type of service provider is not a commodity. You don’t hire them because you need support, you hire them because you want THEIR support. You don’t just want them to [insert service here], you also want them to be your new best friend because you’re low-key obsessed with the person behind the business. And because of that? When you do finally hire and pay them? It will be done with the greatest sense of joy. Like walking into Hermès and joyfully skipping out with a bright orange box.
So yes, I do believe that high-end service providers have figured out the secret to life. And they seem to fly under the radar of society precisely because they’ve made their success metrics to be more than money and fame.
If someone asked you whether your career was successful, how would you answer? My brain immediately goes to how much money I make, but I want to start changing that automatic brain loop. I want to answer with how much creativity I’m expressing, the depth of conversations I’m having, and the empowered lifestyle I’m building.
There are so many metrics for success.
Money is one glorious aspect of that. But only loving your business for the income it generates is like only loving your child when they get good grades.
If I’m a multi-passionate human, it only makes sense that my business should want to be multi-passionate as well—part revenue generator, part creativity outlet, part vessel for doing good in the world, part personal growth journey, part friendship maker. (Part rosé drinker?)
My grandfather really pushed it on us growing up that our brain is the most important possession we own. To use it, to push it, and to never lose it. It’s why, at 85, he plays hours of chess every day, embraces technology, stays on top of global affairs, and continues to be a walking encyclopedia.
I guess when you’re raised in a communist-occupied country, you learn quickly that money comes and goes. That the government giveth and the government taketh away. But your brain? Your brain puts you above it all. Your brain can always find new opportunities, new avenues, and new solutions to your ever-evolving problems.
Remember in high school that one dress you wanted for the school dance that was truly, truly, truly going to change your life and you absolutely needed it? The same applies to that one metric you truly, truly, truly think is going to change your life right now. Will it matter in ten years? Or is it nothing more than a desire to show off your pretty new dress at the school dance?
Don’t be the person who peaked in high school because they sacrificed everything else for popularity.
Don’t be the person who peaked in their 20’s because they sacrificed everything else for a wedding.
Don’t be the person who peaked in their 30’s because they sacrificed everything else for a career.
Be the person who peaks on their 90th birthday because you sacrificed a conventionally-approved life for a fulfilled life.
That’s what I’m striving for.
If you’re a business owner, I hope this reminds you to pursue everything that makes you come alive. And if you’re a professional, I hope this also reminds you to pursue everything that makes you come alive. Because that secret passion that doesn’t quite “make sense” with your current job will one day become the most important part of your career. Creativity, after all, isn’t reserved for the unemployed and starving artist. It’s for us too, the ambitious overachievers, if we can simply stop compartmentalizing our inner artist, inner entertainer, inner teacher, and inner nurturer.
I hope you release it soon. And when you do, you’ll let me know, won’t you?
And if you’re a service provider, don’t you dare reduce yourself to a commodity. Bring forth your full multi-passionate self despite not knowing where all the pieces fit in yet.
You can’t fuck up your business if you’re the one writing the success playbook.