In my last article, I mapped out the maximum earning potential for creative entrepreneurs, based on the different business and pricing models that you can follow. While we all want to earn as much as we can from our work, creatives don’t choose this line of work because we think it will be extraordinarily lucrative—there are plenty of alternatives with much higher earning potential. Rather, we chose this path because there’s something deeper in us, calling us to create, an appetite that can’t be satisfied by money.
One of the immense blessings of the creative calling is this deep enjoyment in the work we do. It’s not just a job. Not many creatives would hop over to an alternate career simply because they could make a little more money at it. We enjoy our work. We get compensated in ways over and above the money we earn.
Business Disruptions to Creative Fulfillment
That’s why it’s such a shame that so many creatives, when they go into business for themselves, get wrapped up in all kinds of stress from running a business. Business struggles can desiccate the very joy we thrive on. The thrill of creativity dies when we’re underwater financially, overworked, and behind schedule on projects.
All these challenges get multiplied when creatives get swept up into a tide of growth. Every hire you make adds yet more complication to your business model, more demands on your time, more pressure on your cash flow, and greater reliance on effective marketing—which, more often than not, is not very effective at all.
Experiencing the Many Ups and Downs
I’ve experienced all these struggles in my three decades as a creative entrepreneur. I moved from working a staff job at an advertising agency into a freelance practice, then grew it into an agency, sold it, then joined another agency, bought it, and now I operate as a small specialized practice—just one tier up from solo-preneur. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to consult other creative entrepreneurs, and help them learn the ropes of the business side of creativity.
I enjoy helping creatives learn how to master the disciplines involved in entrepreneurship and basic business management. I know that while the process is a steep climb, on the other side it leads to restoration and flourishing of their creative passions. Learning business disciplines is not as fun as engaging in the creative process itself. Some are not fun at all—managing your books, or dealing with taxes and payroll, for example. But they are all necessary. They can’t be avoided.
Business Mastery Leads to Creative Enjoyment
I press creatives to master the business side of creativity precisely so that they can preserve the joy of creating. A well-oiled business creates space. It allows breathing room for creativity to thrive. A neglected business, with mounting pressures, stifles and kills creativity, and robs the joy from our work.
You owe it to yourself to start building basic business skills, and to cultivate disciplines that you may not be used to, or enjoy in and of themselves, because by mastering them, you will be securing the best part of what you love to do, and preserving the pleasure of creativity. Mastering the professional practices of creative entrepreneurship rewards you twice. It rewards you in terms of maximizing your compensation—but perhaps even more importantly, it rewards you with greater joy in the work you love.
Start with my Book Blazing the Freelance Trail
If you’d like to get started down the road of mastering the business side of creativity check out my book, Blazing the Freelance Trail. It covers all the essentials and walks you through the basic blocking and tackling for handling your money, your minutes, your management, and your marketing, and helps keep you motivated as you go. It’s available at Amazon in print, Kindle, and audio.
There’s no better time than the present to start down the path toward better business management, and preserving your joy in the creative practice you’re building.