This past year has been tough on many small businesses. Certain sectors of the economy were entirely shut down overnight. Some have yet to recover. If you’ve been listening to 5 Minutes on Creative Entrepreneurship for very long you know how important PinPoint Positioning is to marketing a creative practice. But what if your industry focus was in the live entertainment space, or the travel industry, or event management? If you focused on any of these areas, this past year may very well have been your last. Sadly, this happened to one creative firm I’ve been following, that specialized in helping artists maximize fan engagement at live events. But owners, Abbey Moffitt and Kim Kaupe aren’t about to call it quits.
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Last April, as everything began shutting down, I reached out to Abby Moffitt, one of the owners of The SuperFan Company, a creative firm in the live entertainment space. Clearly this company was going to face challenges. But at that time no one knew just how long lockdowns, and the cancellation of live events would last. Sadly, by the Fall of 2020, Abby and Kim knew that SuperFan was not going to make it. The company they had invested so much of themselves into, became just one more casualty of Covid.
When owners of a creative practice have to shut things down, they tend not to think, at first, about their own future, as much as they do their employees. And when I caught back up with Abby last month, the most painful part of her story was how hard it was on her and Kim to let their beloved employees go. Figuring out what to do next for themselves, came later.
Of course creative entrepreneurs, who really are entrepreneurs, always get back up in the saddle. And once they finished the painful work of closing down their business, Abby and Kim began to look to the future. In just a few short months they had their new brand, a new strategy, and a new business. Bright Ideas Only is their new practice, and they are both beginning the process of rebuilding.
Back in episodes 68 and 69 I talked about what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur, how we have to be willing to take risks, and to face the fear of failure. But there’s another quality that makes for a true entrepreneur, resilience. You see, it’s not just the fear of failure that we have to contend with, sometimes, through no fault of our own, we might fail. SuperFan was having one of their best years ever when Covid hit. There was nothing they could have done to anticipate or plan for an event like that.
It’s one thing to contemplate failure, it’s altogether another to experience it, and then get back up. No one ever voluntarily signs up for experiences like these, but going through them really tests our mettle, they refine us, they make us stronger on the other side. Resilience is a fundamental character trait for any creative entrepreneur. And this past year, whatever the measurable impacts may have been on our businesses, we’ve all been tested in one way or another.
Of course whenever there’s a massive hit to an economy, some businesses will fail, but there are other sectors that rise. Grocery stores surged this year as people’s consumption patterns shifted radically. Home delivery businesses exploded. Pretty much anything related to homes had a great year. And so you may have had the opposite experience—contending with surges in demand, leading to growth. And while we would all prefer the difficulties related to that challenge, the stresses of growth are indeed quite real. And managing them requires that same core resilience every creative entrepreneur needs.
If you’re going to own a business, you’ll need resilience. While there are many skills needed to run a business, most can be learned and developed. But resilience comes from within. It can grow and be strengthened, albeit mostly through trial and testing. But while it can grow, I’m not sure that it can be obtained. My sense is that it’s a trait, or a gift, that some have and others don’t. But if you have that gift, it still must be cultivated. And this past year, for all it’s downsides, has at least nurtured entrepreneurial resilience.
Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.