Creating a Masterpiece: Be the Picasso of Your Small Business

I’m not much of an artist— at least not in the “Wow, she can paint a masterpiece” sort of way.

As creative as I (think I) am, hand me a paintbrush and I’ll be looking for the nearest large wall to cover. With one color.

I can trace a drawing like nobody’s business. However, last I looked, there weren’t any famous tracings hanging in the Louvre.

The fact is, an artistic masterpiece is always created not only out of mechanical skill, but passion and heart. And you simply can’t borrow anyone else’s heart.

It’s the same in business.

Having worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years, one thing has become clear to me: the most successful of them create products and services out of passion and heart.

As a small business owner, you are an artist, creating for your Muse (your ideal customer).

Yet, so many business owners seem eager to find the ‘right’ way to do things. It’s easy to believe someone has the blueprint for success— especially when you’re reading a sales letter that screams, “I have the blueprint for success!”

But you can’t trace over someone else’s work and call it your own. Scratch that: you can, but it’ll be so dull that even YOU won’t want to work with yourself.

So if you’ve found yourself stuck in your business— either on the hamster wheel of keeping up with projects that don’t excite you, or just starting out in business and unsure of your direction— heed these three tips and you’ll be creating your very own business equivalent of a Mona Lisa in no time.

1) Consider your website your sacred space and design accordingly.

Think of your website as a custom home. If you were building such a home, you’d hopefully include such common elements as a foundation, a front door, a kitchen, and one or more bathrooms.

Beyond that, you could go pretty crazy with floor-to-ceiling windows, interesting nooks, and any other details your budget and imagination could afford.

Your website is the same. You need the basics: an easy way for people to join your email list, contact you, work with you, pay you, etc. (emphasis on easy).

Beyond that, your website is your domain (pun intended).

Try to imagine that there are NO other fabulous websites out there for you to imitate. What could you or your designer create that none of us has ever seen before?

Strive to produce that space. Let the copycats copy YOU, not the other way around.

2) Use YOUR voice at every touch point of customer interaction.

Talk how you normally talk.

The reason for speaking in your own language is not only because people can spot a fake a mile away, but because you will draw your ideal clients and customers to you by being who you really are.

A suggestion: before writing anything to your readers (emails, blog posts, social media updates, etc.), pretend you’re writing to a good friend.

Use the kind of language and sentence construction you would use if you were sending your friend an email. Share from the heart, instead of fearing you’ll be graded poorly on a school essay (bonus tip: you are now free to break the rules of grammar if it makes your message punchier!).

3) Know the difference between ‘authenticity’ and ‘value-added authenticity’.

Okay, this one isn’t really about artistic quality, but it’s important.

Web 2.0 has created an outlet for some entrepreneurs to share every detail of their lives with us. While I advocate honesty, I don’t see the purpose of sharing the deepest, darkest nights of the soul with your clients and customers.


Unless you’ve overcome a significant or common challenge, and you’d like to share the solution. Then, good on ya’. Give us a hand out of the deep well we’ve fallen into.

Other than that, please save your mental breakdowns for your close friends and loved ones (bless them).

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helen-hunter-mackenzieHelen Hunter Mackenzie has mentored and coached corporate employees and entrepreneurs all over the world to guide them to extraordinary results. After successfully creating a 20+ year corporate management career, she switched gears to become a strategic marketing + branding coach, helping women entrepreneurs succeed in the Transformation Economy. She is the founder of l'academie [five.twenty.two] and The Cause Effect, two programs designed to help women entrepreneurs develop uncommon businesses that change the world. You can learn more about her and grab your free copy of her highly-acclaimed Brand Genius Workshop at


  1. All such wonderful advice, Helen. I especially love the reminder to write our newsletter as if writing to a friend, especially as I start crafting my first EVER. :)

  2. Great tips, Helen! Even though I’m an editor, I have also given clients the go-ahead to break (some) grammar rules if they must. But find a balance that works: be as creative and artistic as you like with your copy, but don’t go so overboard that your message is lost. And I beg everyone to PLEASE at least have someone proofread your site before you go live! It’s a simple step that can have a serious impact on the impression you make on others. Your readers – and your business – will thank you.

  3. Yes, yes, and YES :)

    I particularly love your “Build a Custom Home” analogy with your website in point #1 (“Consider your website your sacred space and design accordingly.” It is so easy to unconsciously be “keeping up with the entrepreneur Joneses”…in looking at other people’s websites to help you build yours…..which is the exact reason why many of us started our own business in the first place, right? (to get away from that rat race tendency or comparing & contrasting & copying!) Ironic, isn’t it?

    Thanks for the reminder– there are never enough reminders in this world.

    • EXACTLY. It’s great to look at and be inspired by what others do, but we need to connect with our own wisest selves before making decisions. I love your point about the irony of leaving one rat race to join another. That’s an eye-opener! Thanks for that. xo

  4. Such an inspiring article, Helen. Thanks for the reminder to be the “Picasso of my own business”. Yes, as we often chase our goals, we forget to be the artists and the designers of our web based home. And your point #3 made me laugh so much. Such a great read!

  5. great post @helen! i love, “you simply can’t borrow anyone else’s heart.” inspired by? yes. but copy – bleh!

    • YES! Picasso, as a matter of fact said, “Good artists copy– great artists steal.” If you’re going to use something as inspiration, steal it entirely, take it into your studio, and let it inspire you to create something even better.

      PS – Not encouraging ACTUAL art theft here. ;)

      Thanks for commenting Shana! xo

  6. So true! I was the one trying to say the ‘right’ things, until I found my Muse (in the mirror)! With help from lots of amazing people (like Helen), I realized I’m part of my own best audience and that made it soooooooo much easier to say anything! I’m still “renovating” my online “home,” but at least now I know what style to choose. :-)

  7. Nice work, Helen! Just like your tip #1, often when I am in creation mode I need to filter out all the web-chatter. Getting too much input can have deleterious effects–too many influences, result in lack of clarity and loss of voice.

    While I realize that nothing is original, I strive to be true to myself and my vision–any similarities are purely accidental!

  8. What a fantastic piece, from head to toe. Thanks for the reminder that our businesses are all about our vision.

    Point #2 is a rich opportunity for entrepreneurs, even beyond the scope of written language. Designing our customer’s experience, be it on our website, through delivery of a product, little unexpected touches here and there, is a fabulous opportunity to set ourselves apart from the masses if we embrace that same custom home design mind set. Show your creativity and commitment, your customers will love you for it.

    Thanks Helen!