Episode 13: Don’t Take It Personally…

The typical creative entrepreneur deals with a double-dose of trouble in business. They contend with the inner struggles of the creative process, as well as the outward pressures of being in business in general. Now all forms of entrepreneurship will face troubles, but overcoming the doubled pressure of creative entrepreneurship takes an incredible degree of resolve. Very few creatives break through.
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Are you ready to take the struggle out of finding new clients?

The typical creative entrepreneur deals with a double-dose of trouble in business. They contend with the inner struggles of the creative process as well as the outward pressures of being in business in general. What’s worse, most creatives don’t get the business training that they need in the first place. Now all forms of entrepreneurship will face troubles, but overcoming the doubled pressure of creative entrepreneurship takes an incredible degree of resolve. Very few creatives break through.

In order to overcome the challenges of creative entrepreneurship you’re going to need some motivation. And so in the next few episodes I want to help you contend with the inner battles you may face, so that you can stay focused and productive as you run your business. But I want to give you a heads up, I don’t believe that the typical cheerleading approach of most motivational speakers is going to be effective. Rather we need to evaluate, and perhaps adjust the way we fundamentally think about our work, and what we expect to accomplish through it.

And so in the first few episodes on motivation, I’ll be identifying some deep seated issues most creatives struggle with. I won’t be suggesting solutions right away. Instead I want to surface the deeper, more hidden motivations we all live with. And in some respect, just becoming self-aware about these dynamics can help us to deal with them more effectively. Beyond this basic healthy self-awareness, I’ll also be providing some other approaches to managing our motivation, but you’ll need to hang with me for a few episodes to get there.

The first challenge creatives face in engaging with the business side of what we do, is the tendency to make artistic identity such a large part of our overall identities. It’s quite common for us to identify ourselves by what we do for a living. When you meet a new person you typically learn their name, perhaps where they live, and then what they do. That’s normal. Accountants, lawyers, and engineers do this just as much as designers, illustrators, and photographers. But when a creative person engages in work we invest so much more of ourselves, than would normally be true of other professions. Creatives are artists, accountants produce tax returns.

To illustrate this inflated tendency, consider the contrast between the average creative service website and the sites of other kinds of professional services. When you go to a lawyer’s website they’ll feature and describe their specialized areas of expertise, and talk about the services they provide. Almost never will you find a lawyer expressing how much they love the law, and how passionate they are about writing briefs. It may be true, but they don’t promote their practices based on a passion for the law. But what about a designer, or artist’s website. They will show their work of course, and list their services, but very often their positioning rests on, or at least includes, some statement of love for creating, or passion for branding—they express their close identity with creative work itself. I look at a lot of creative’s websites, and it’s a very common element of many.

Why is this a motivational challenge for creatives? Well, the more personally we identify with our work, the more personally we are going to take it when we fail, or face a crisis, or a conflict with a client. And you will face failures, and crises, and conflicts in business. And while such times are hard for any entrepreneur, the more deeply we identify with our work, the greater the burden we feel when we face trouble.

I’ll have more to say about this special relationship between creatives and our work in the next couple episodes, as we consider still other inner challenges we face. So until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.