I push my clients as hard as I can. I try to bring all of my skills, experience and worldview to bear as I challenge literally everything about their creative business. If you have to think about and stand with integrity for all that you do, demonstrate how much you believe in your art and your creative business, how can it not steel your core? Without your core, you have nothing. The stronger your core, the further you can go. My work circles around who are you and what do you do? – really? – then putting teeth to the business behind the answers.
Yet, most creative business owners live in their own bubble. Most of us are literally on our own or are surrounded by a few employees that see the world the exact same way. All too often, there is no one there to say, “huh? I do not get it.” Down the yellow brick road we go with the Internet validating our every step. Because that is the thing about a place where every point of view has support. Unless you are willing to be uncomfortable, you will always find the answer you are looking for.
Truly, I do not care what path my clients choose for their art and their creative business so long as it is from their belly. What they most want for themselves. Ultra-luxury, mass market, in-house or out-source all work if it is intrinsic to the business. To get there, though, my clients have to slog through the “shoulds, have-tos, want-to-be likes” one at a time. And if they have spent the lives of their creative businesses in the bubble, there are A LOT of “shoulds, have-tos, and want-to-be-likes” to get through. Yes, life lived more honestly is almost always easier, but change sucks.
All of which is to say, you cannot do it alone. You have to find someone or a group that will challenge you, if only to help you truly define yourself and your creative business. My advice is to seek out those that are not like you but close enough to have an opinion. Event designers talking to interior designers. Photographers talking to graphic designers. Fashion designers talking to jewelers. Small business organizations and networking groups that are committed to advancing the state of your (or a similar) industry. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to suggestion and know it is not the same thing as having to wear someone else’s clothes. You are just trying them on for size. But be careful.
Nothing I resent more than those who point to problems with no solution or, worse yet, accept only their solution as acceptable. One of the reasons I loved law school was because we were forced to defend both sides with equal conviction. Your sounding board should be as passionate as you to bring out the best you and then let that you shine. Your belly, your integrity is yours alone. The point is to get to that place, not away from it. To find your power, not give it over to someone else. Those that would insist you are doing it wrong and/or have to do it their way are not helpful. Ultimately, you will wind up more deeply entrenched in your bubble. So feel free to walk away, just make sure you knock on someone else’s door.
The beauty of the world we live in today is that the rules are now being (re)written for almost everything. Enjoying the bounty of the opportunity is a singular function of your willingness to think and act differently. Finding a community that encourages and respects your desire to be uncomfortable, to live in the unknown, is a sure way to discover where you have to go.