All of us have many different roles in our lives – business owner/employee, artist, colleague, client, parent, child, friend, lover, teacher, student. We cannot be all roles simultaneously. We focus on being one or two of them at any one time, mostly dependent on who is sitting across the table from us. Let’s call those roles the primary roles of the moment. Playing the wrong primary role in a given situation tends to not turn out well. Children need parents not friends. Students need teachers not lovers. Creative businesses need owners not parents.
The question then is what primary roles do you play in your creative business? Why and, more importantly, when? So often, you do not define your role because you believe you need to be all things to all people. To you, your client expects you to not only create the design, but then draw, build and drive the truck to deliver it. Your employees expect you to be able to answer all questions no matter how much you tell them it is their job to know. Welcome to the land of Lilliput.
There is no one right role for you in your creative business, only the one you must play for the world to perceive your business as a business and not merely an extension of yourself. Extensions do not scale, businesses do. Even if you are all by yourself, you can still make it clear what your primary roles are. The rest you can outsource. The point is that you must do all you can to be viewed in the light most favorable to your creative business. Designer, technician, craftsperson, it does not matter, so long as you pick your primary role.
Apart from misperception about what is necessary, failing to play the primary role you know you must is about lack of confidence. You cannot play small no matter your size. Yes, you can be hungry and scrappy to get where you need to be so long as you never get stuck there. Ultimately, you have to own the stage. To do so, you have to allow those around you to celebrate your gifts. When you allow yourself to play the wrong primary role, you get lost in all that you are not. No wonder then that your creative business cannot find its place as a business. Much better to invest the time to do what you do, nothing else. Only then will your creative business will have something to be built around. The more specific your role, the further you, your art and your creative business can go. Ironic in the very best sense. Know who you are so you can move beyond yourself. As true for you as an artist as it is for you as a creative business owner.