It took a while for me to realise I wasn’t faking it, I was actually making it. That old saying of “fake it until you make it” has its uses, especially when you’re starting out on a path that really matters to you.
Fake It Until You Make It
As is so often is the case, the realisation that the faking was done and finished with and replaced with the actual success of doing came about as a bit of a surprise.
OK, I have been making my living from what I create for years now and I have understood for a long time that I’m a small (micro) business but I’ve had one of those very clear demonstrations of how innately I am now a business owner and not an employee.
It came about rather innocuously with a visit to the bank to have my keycard changed into a debit credit card. All that involves in completing a bank form and submitting it, nothing else and I was greeted with the response “oh, I didn’t know it was a business account, I don’t have the training to do this, we’ll need to book you in with a business manager at another time”. My response was one of stunned disbelief, I thought they were actually joking, especially as I’d worked at the bank years ago and knew it was about printing off a form, completing it and submitting it – nothing else.
Eventually a manager came in and opened the form up on the PC, printed it out and we got it sorted. That simple.
But it set me thinking, how would I be if someone within my business said they couldn’t print off a form because they didn’t have the training. I’d be horrified that a customer was hearing such words. I’d be wanting the customer to hear something like “I just need help to find the exact location of the form and will be right back to look after this for you” and then they go off to ask for help with the solution.
I was watching a documentary about who was the first person to do powered flight (turns out it wasn’t the Wright brothers after all, they just had the money, power and influence to publicly trash the man who beat them by two years!) and the Smithsonian Museum curator being interviewed about it all actually answered one question about whether historical accuracy and honesty mattered more than the details of a 110+ year old contract with “that’s above my pay grade”. He went on international TV saying that! As if that showed him in a respectable and honourable light! To me that means he’ll never achieve the “pay grade” to make any real decisions within that organisation. That decision is not about what he’s paid, it’s about the collective values of the board and senior management.
Yet this has made me realise just how much of a small business owner I am now. If I need to do be able to do something I simply figure it out, I find out what’s involved and learn how to do it. This constant state of learning is just a normal part of life for folks like me. If I need to make a decision, to take ownership for my own business then I take it.
Constantly Learning, Always Growing
We seek out places to go do training, online courses, how to books and workbooks, workshops and seminars but if we have an online form to complete we nut it out. We do ask for help too, we jump online to YouTube or social media asking for advice, call a friend doing something similar or even catchup with a supplier about a technical skill with their products.
If I had the attitude that it was someone else’s responsibility for me to have the skills needed to run, maintain and grow my business then I’d be without a business really quickly.
Attitudes that Make A Real Business Owner
And I think it is stark the attitude and collection of values I now live by that makes me truly a small business owner.
For anyone wanting to make a living from their art or what they make they must develop the attitudes and values that will let them achieve this dream. They are different to a permanent employee within a structured organisation.
But for that matter, anyone who wants to progress within such an organisation will need to develop a more can do approach. The bank manager who ended up helping me quickly figured out that saying to a small business customer “I haven’t then training to complete the form” was giving a really bad impression of the bank, damaging the bank’s massive investment in advertising trying to get the message across that they understand what it is to be a small business owner. He came in with solutions, with a pragmatic approach to when the new card would be delivered and an alternative collection point if that suited me better. When we talked about timing left for me to complete my errands at the shopping centre it became apparent that his watch was set 10 minutes fast – because he wants to progress within the organisation by over-delivering and managing time is a great place to be.
Learn From Others Already Living Your Dreams
So if you want to be making a living from your creativity learn from those already doing it, it’s a fast track route from faking it to making it.
It will involve technical skills with your art and craft but also attitudinal skills. The motivation to learn and setting up those learning experiences will be purely down to you, even if that means you work your way into a mastermind group for mutual support. Getting into that group will be down to you, no one will invite you to belong to such a group without experiencing your personal get up and go, your determination to achieve your dreams.
Live Your Values
It does matter what you say, who you say it to and how you say it because it is a clear demonstration of your values and approach to life, art and work.
And it is perfectly fine to be earning your living from employed work and doing your art and craft part time in a matter that best fits your life. Succeeding as an employee within an organisation takes a lot of effort and skill that’s valuable for itself. It is just different to being a business owner.
For those who want to make that transition from employee to self-employed a key part of it is in the approach to situations.
I also realised from these two situations that it would be very difficult for me to move back into employed work with a team of people who have been employees for years. I’d be like a square peg in a round hole and most likely, being me, act out in some naughty, self sabotaging manner. So best not go there!
Fitting My Foot in My Mouth
It took years and years for me to learn the bucket loads of skills I need to look after my own customers and I still make mistakes. I still misjudge some customers and my jovial banter can be way off the mark, leaving me with my own foot in my mouth trying to figure out how to fix it. But that’s a whole lot of other lessons and experiences!
For now I’m just thankful that I’ve made it as a creative small business owner who is fully supported by her own endeavours. That’s quite a big achievement and one that gives me a lot of satisfaction.