About 15 years ago when I was working at a corporation, I stumbled on a book in a used bookstore called, Do What You Love And The Money Will Follow.
It was the first time I gave any thought to opening my own creativity-based business, which was odd given that my grandmother, grandfather and my father all owned their own individual businesses. My grandmother, back in the roaring twenties, owned her own dance studio. She produced local plays and recitals after graduating from Emerson College. If she were still around, I’d tell her that I’ve followed in her creative footsteps.When I did open my own business, even though I loved what I was doing the money did not follow very much.
Making your creative business thrive is a little more complicated that doing what you love. You have to deal with what I call the psychology of your business. If that is not addressed properly, you can learn to dislike what you love and end up back helping someone else build their dream.
The most important rule of business I have learned:
Whatever dogs you in life will follow you into your business. I sometimes think the greatest gift a business can give its owner is to highlight what dogs you in life. It is easy to get around this “dog” when you work for someone else. Much easier to hide from yourself in a cubicle. Most corporations don’t really want you to be the best you can be. The job description may state that, but it isn’t really wanted from what I observed.
They want you to do what you are told in the quietest way possible. To not rock their boat. To not rock your colleagues boats. And certainly not to rock your own boat. And to be afraid of losing your job 24/7. That way you will be less likely to even think of rocking any boat.
Interestingly enough, I saw people climb the corp. ladder who had few redeeming qualities other than that they were good at climbing over others. Some of the most talented people got fired or ended up on the lay off list early. If you spoke up about anything, you found yourself holding the short straw.
When you own a business, you wake up and deal with yourself every day. Your toughest client will always be you getting in the way of your own business. Owning a creative business is even harder than more traditional businesses because everyone loves to tell you that your idea is crazy or that you cannot make money doing “x.”
The first thing you need to do is face what “dogs” you and how that impacts your new or ongoing business. What dogged me was that I didn’t feel comfortable going up to people and blabbing about my business. I had been labeled shy in school, even though I was not shy as a very young child. When I had to wear glasses in third grade it turned my world upside down. I didn’t want to wear them, so I kind of retreated into this impressionist painting world where I didn’t see too much, especially people’s faces that looked like blurred out photos. That got labelled shy and before I knew it I believed I was shy and started acting accordingly.
Being shy can be a big problem when you own a business since a lot of business comes from referrals. To get over my alleged shyness, I went to an event one night and made myself talk to everyone in the room. It was painful at first but eventually I grew to enjoy it. I’ve met some terrific small businesses owners at networking events, many I am still friends with. I no longer consider myself the shy person others labeled me as. This also became the topic for my Chicken Soup For The Soul Essay, “Life Of The Party.”
My advice to any of you who want to do your own business thing, figure out what dogs you and find a way to overcome it. It will be your great life lesson, the one you need to turn around and face if you want to really do what you love and actually have the money follow.
Best wishes with your business or impending business!