Whose business are you in? Part 1: Your muse vs what clients want

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My first business, Mollycoddles, failed…for three reasons:

  1. I didn’t have a specific financial goal.
  2. I believed that the people who could afford my work were not my tribe.
  3. I was in business to serve my muse, not my clients.

And without those three things, I could not make a profit.

Today, I’m going to talk about the third item, being in business to serve your muse, not your clients. Working backward, I’ll write about the other two in the next two articles.
The magic formula
When you work for yourself because you love what you do, the muse–your source of inspiration–matters. It connects you with a value, principle, or ideal that is bigger than you are. That lights you up and infuses your work with meaning.
But your ability to make a living depends on delivering what clients want. The magic formula isn’t, in my experience, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” It’s “Do what you love to serve others, and the money will follow.”
Where the muse fits
You need your muse for your work to matter. You need clients if you’re going to make a living. Fortunately, your muse is part of what makes you and your clients fit just-right.
How does it all fit together?
Here’s the short version.

  • You serve your muse by developing your talent and skills and by listening to inspiration.
  • You serve your just-right clients by listening to them and making them offers that fit what they want.
  • Your muse serves you *and* your clients by infusing your work with beauty and meaning.

You serve your muse
A muse is a source of inspiration. You serve your muse by making yourself the best possible vehicle for giving form and substance to the inspiration.
You serve your muse when you take care of yourself. You serve your muse when you study your craft. And you serve your muse when you tune into the divine spark where it all begins.
If you don’t serve your muse in these ways, inspiration dries up. You feel lost and disconnected. Disoriented. Discouraged.
When you do serve your muse, you light up. You see ideas and possibilities everywhere.
It’s clear that for your business to work, you need to serve your muse.
You serve your just-right clients
Important as your muse is, it’s not the center of the universe for your just-right clients. For your work to translate to consistent income, your work needs to match what they want. You figure out how to do that by listening.
When you don’t listen to your clients, you end up lecturing. Telling them why they need your products or services. Giving them reason after reason why they should buy.
Boring. Off-putting.
When you listen closely to your clients and design your offers to match what they want, you don’t need to lecture. You can use your just-right clients’ exact language to describe what you do so that they immediately recognize their desires in your offers. They sell themselves because the fit is so good.
If you’re going to make a living, you have to serve your just-right clients.
Your muse serves you and your clients
When you and your clients fit just-right, your muse serves you both. What inspires you inspires them. What moves you moves them. What delights you delights them.
Your job is to find the intersection where what inspires, moves, and delights you perfectly matches what your clients want. Where that correspondence is clear.
How to get the money to follow
You get the money to follow the work you love by making your work relevant to your just-right clients. That means translating your muse into the forms and substance that best match what clients want.
You translate by observing and listening to your just-right clients. By finding out where your work is relevant to them. Where it fits in their lives. And how they talk about the issues, opportunities, and concerns that your work addresses.
Notice how your just-right clients want to encounter your work. Are they looking online or off? When it comes to using your work, what is most convenient for them? Speak to them in the channels they already use.
Give your just-right clients ways to know, like, and trust you. Give away useful information. Make yourself available if they have questions. And realize that it takes time to arrive at a place where you fit just-right.
Take care of your muse and your clients
If you don’t need to make a living, what you do with your work is up to you and your muse. But when you need to make money, your just-right clients are part of the equation.
Take care of yourself. Take care of your muse. And take care of your just-right clients. That’s the way to make a living at the work you love.
Questions? Success stories? Push back? Share your comments below.
Photo by Ken Douglas via Flickr
Under a Creative Commons License


  1. Isabel Parlett

    Molly, this is beautiful.
    This to me is really the heart of the challenge so many creative, bright, spiritual business owners have making money.
    They love what they do. But they don’t know how to translate that into something that’s easy for their audience to say yes to.

  2. Ian Blei

    thanks, Molly,
    as always, right to the truth of it. Perhaps my stumbling block is shared by others, and you could shed some light here for us (maybe a whole other post :-))?
    When we offer a service that is exceptionally integral and central to “everything else,” how it serves is obvious to us, but not necessarily to prospects. Pulling the curtains back, shining the light on their under-the-surface drivers so that they can be free and in charge of their own lives seems to be a pretty attractive offering, but when they’re still “under the spell” of those drivers, it’s like the old Al-Anon line about “talking to the problem about the problem.”
    Each client takes their own benefits from the clarity, so how do we talk about that clarity (the service offered) in a way that they can see it as the singular solution to so many issues. Listening to my clients’ plethora of issues for decades led me to develop this integral process to begin with.
    Giving them tools and how to use them for all their issues seems to be a no-brainer value, but my practice is still just crawling instead of flying. Ideas? Thoughts?
    thank you as always for your heart-felt/filled wisdom.
    all is one,

  3. Molly Gordon

    AIsabel: Thank you for stopping by. It is so important that Accidental Entrepreneurs learn to translate what they want for their clients into language those clients can understand. Simple, but not easy.
    @Ian: I think the key is to not talk about the service until the prospective client is clear that you understand their situation and hear what they want. When we try to explain what we do, we lose them most of the time.
    I think rather than focusing on issues, it is useful to focus on what those issues are keeping people from being, doing, or having. What are the consequences of being stuck? What price are people paying for lack of access to your tools and services?
    This is where identifying and speaking to a very specific client is helpful. When we tell people we can solve a whole laundry list of problems, they glaze over. When we can speak to a very specific problem and solution, we stand out.
    I hope that helps, and I will definitely go into this more in a future post.

  4. Orion Lukasik

    Great post Molly!
    I talk to people all the time about this subject, and I really love the way you frame it.
    You caught my attention with your comment about the magic formula not truly being, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” While I have always felt that this was the magic formula, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of truth in what you were saying. So I pondered for a while and here’s what I realized:
    First, I have a background in a spiritual practice as well as current business that is technical in it’s nature, and I think this applies across the board. When I talk with someone who feels they are ‘serving their muse’ yet can’t seem to get any momentum with what they want to create, what I find is that their muse has actually become distorted by ego. What started for them as a heart felt inspiration soon became something quite different as they began to formulate it into a business. From what I’ve observed, the most successful spiritual businesses (and any other business, really) are those that retain their pure, core muse without letting their egos get too carried away. There are many other reasons a business may not ignite, of course.
    Now, we’re human, so ego is a part of who we are. It isn’t about getting rid of or ignoring the ego, but rather learning how to recognize it, listen to it, and use it as a beneficial tool rather than letting it run the show inappropriately.
    So that’s how I connect with what you are saying, and I believe that when you are creating that balance with muse and serving your clients, that you have also balanced your muse and ego.
    Thank you for starting such an insightful post, Molly and thanks to everyone for their comments. FYI, I found your blog through networkedblogs.
    all the best,

  5. Molly Gordon

    @Orion: I love what you say about balancing the muse and ego. That is a brilliant way of articulating the challenge. Thank you.

  6. Mike Thomas

    Hi Molly
    I’m so glad I found you, since starting my own spiritual life coaching business I’ve felt very alone sometimes, lost at sea!
    This post has confirmed for me something that I’ve suspected for a while lately. When I’m waking up early and doing my Yoga and generally taking care of my self; I can see clearly what motivated me to start this business in the first place. When I’m taking care of my self I can easily tap into that juicy spot within where all things are possible.
    I’m also aware now that I need to first understand where the client is coming from before bombarding them with product features and solutions they may not want.
    Thanks Molly, it’s an honour to be embarking on this journey along side you. I spend a lot of my time inspiring others… it’s nice to be inspired once in a while which you have done with this post, thanks again. Bless you, namaste 🙂

  7. Ilona

    Thanks for an uplifting post Molly, I needed it today! My question is what to do if you can’t get your right clients to tell you what they want? I’ve asked in many different ways and get zero response which leaves me stumped as to what they want.

  8. Astra Spider

    Hi Molly, I really like your article! I have a question – what if people are not telling us what they need? What if we have asked, several times, via newsletter, Facebook and surveys, and no one responds? Because of this, we are basing all of our material on our inner guidance and Universal wisdom – which feels really good, and some clients are coming forward and hiring us – but many seem to feel scared to take their lives to the transformational heights our services and products allow for. If I don’t know what people want, and they won’t tell me, I must continue to rely on my inner and Universal sources, since the humans aren’t talking. 🙂 Any advice? Thank you so much!

  9. Molly Gordon

    Ilona, Astra: As you’ve discovered, clients often don’t (or can’t) tell you what they want in a casual conversation. What’s needed is a one-on-one, preferably phone or in-person, conversation set up specifically to explore what the client wants. You don’t need to have a bunch of these conversations: one in-depth conversation with a just-right client will give you plenty to work with.
    My students find that clients (and prospective clients) are happy to have these conversations. Once you have one scheduled, the keys are:
    1. Make the other person feel really safe, respected, and comfortable.
    2. Have questions prepared so you remain focused on the client’s experience.
    3. Remember to listen and ask questions, not to jump in and problem solve or fix.
    The essentials are simple, but not necessarily easy. In Profit Alchemy, we spend five weeks on these conversations. The results are worth it!
    Videos six and seven in the free series Secrets to Consistent Self-Employment Profits go into this some more. Click HERE to sign up for the videos. (They go away December 26, 2011.)

  10. Heir

    Peace be with you!!
    Molly, I sooooo love you and appreciate your voice in this ocean of devotion in light!! Ask and it is given!!
    I’ve made a choice to.be successful as a healer and although I’ve met and resonated with some great people I could not match them to me in a true fit… How daunted I’ve been and a little afraid. During a comped consult I tried to voice that recently and was met with not an ounce of understanding. But it lead to asking a new question and becoming even more specific and as the law mandates….. 🙂
    This is not the first time Byron Katie has showed up to save me!!! Yayyyyyyyy!!!!! Lol
    Many Thanks!!


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