If you have been in business for a while (i.e., more than 3 years), you come to have expectations about how and when the proverbial phone will ring. For many creative businesses, that time is now. Holidays are done and we are looking forward to Spring coming next month. This is when corporations put their plans into motion, people decide to invest in themselves and the wheels of creativity start to turn.
For those of you enjoying a booming resurgence of inquiries, better than awesome. I hope that you are up to the challenge of speaking the new language I spoke of in my last post. Investment not cost. However, for those of you who are not meeting the internal expectations you have for yourself, your art and your creative business, this post is for you.
First and foremost, we have all been there. As important, this is a moment and it will pass. Your choice is to see it as an indictment or an opportunity.
As Marcy Blum will more than confirm, if you gave gold medals for worrying about the future of my and my clients’ businesses, Michael Phelps would not even come close. So this work is very much a daily exercise for me, a practice, a challenge to see the world from a different lens than indictment. Indictment means that you are convinced you are doing something wrong. Your marketing is off. You have to fix your website, social media, your clothing, your smile, your car. Your pricing is too high (no one ever thinks it is too low). You made someone mad. And, my favorite, you are not doing enough. If you just hustled more, then all would be better.
Of course, some of those indictments may very well be true. By all means, work on them. However, change your attitude. Silence brings opportunity for introspection. How can you be more exposed? Go further in all that you do? Consider that the answer is not to trend to what everyone else is doing, but to be more radically you. To be very specific about things, I said that no one ever thinks their price is too low. What if it was? If you go to a fine restaurant and expect your favorite dish on the menu to be thirty-five dollars, because that is what fine restaurants charge for a dish like that, when you see the dish for fifteen dollars, you are not inspired, you are nervous. What should cost thirty-five dollars cannot cost fifteen. Ever. So if your art and your creative business is that featured dish at a fine restaurant and you are charging fifteen dollars, when the phone does not ring, the answer has to be to get more expensive, not less. The power and courage to go there and raise your prices in spite of (and/or because of) the silence is directly related to your willing to see the silence as opportunity.
Doing something because you have nothing else to lose is never a long-term answer. Do not kid yourself to think that closing your eyes and leaping is your version of considering opportunity. Just indictment in another outfit. Usually, at your earliest moment, you will revert back to what you were doing before you leapt. No, opportunity is allowing you, your art and your creative business to be where you are. To see the story each element currently tells and challenge yourself to tell it better. Find conviction in the story’s purity, diligence in tending to the vision and humility in where you and your art belong in the story.
Nobody knows the future. The phone may never ring again. However, given your track record, it likely will. The real question you need to ask, myself very much included, is which version will answer when it does. Perseverance is not courage or conviction, only a willingness to suffer as we all must. Courage and conviction is to see opportunity when the lights are out. Faith lets you believe they will come on again. Persevere in what you know is your and your creative business’ best self today. That, for me anyway, is its own reward. Hopefully, it will be for you and your creative business too.