So you’d love to have your own handmade business but don’t really know what’s actually involved or where to start. Well to help you get a better understanding I’m going to share eight bits of behind the scenes reality with you that I’ve leaned first hand.
8 Behind the Scenes Truths About Your Own Creative Business
Here are eight insights I’ve learned over the years:
1. What looks easy will be harder and what looks harder could be easier, but you’re probably right.
Yes, sometimes you do get lucky and what you think will be easy will be easy. Enjoy that side of things while you can.
Usually there will be a learning curve involved or technology of some sort and both can easily add complexity to your day. Be calm, and work through it as methodically as you can, just breathe.
You’ll have to figure out for yourself where the blurry line between determination that wins the day and the universe telling you that you’re on the wrong path.
2. You will be constantly learning new skills.
It is fully your responsibility to learn new skills and for every stage (day?) of your creative business you’ll need to learn something.
Rarely will you have someone pull you aside and tell you what you need to know and then teach you the skill, it is wonderful when that happens so treasure it.
It is much easier to enjoy and grow your arty business when you peacefully accept that you will always be both the teacher and the student. So read that book, go on that course, ask those questions.
3. It is often deeply satisfying and sometimes heart breaking.
Keep in mind that every job has it’s crappy bits. When you are making your living from your own business there will be times when your heart sings and you clearly feel why you’re doing it.
There will be other times when it’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done and you wonder why you are choosing this for yourself.
It is easier when you’ve learned about looking after your cash flow, planning and marketing. And you can even find creativity in these things too.
4. You develop a keen sense of compassion and consideration for others making a go of their own small business, whatever it is about.
Because the successes are so satisfying and the lows can be so hard you grow emotionally too, understanding more keenly what it takes to grow something from scratch with bucket loads of sweat equity and shear determination.
When your fellow small business friends are hurting from an expensive fair failing to deliver or landing that stockist with 10 stores across the country you feel it. And they get you too.
5. Very few makers and artists get to have a workspace as big as they need or want.
Most of us start in tiny spaces and grow into small spaces, always overflowing into other rooms and dreaming of the day when we’ll have a big enough studio space.
Those highly styled studio spaces you see in stories are as rare as unicorns. They are achievable, usually in the country areas and rarely in the city, especially cities that have overpriced houses as warehouses are being torn down for apartments.
So don’t bother beating yourself up for a small workspace, make the most of it, be smart about how you set it up and keep your dreams alive.
6. It takes discipline and hard work and you don’t always reap the rewards.
I must confess, I struggle not to laugh loudly in the face of people who say to me all dreamy eyed, “oh, to work when you want to would be wonderful, you must love it”. Yes, I easily get the drain of the daily commute and grind, but working for yourself has nothing to do with working when you want to.
It takes focus, determination and hard work and sometimes that’s all wasted and you don’t make any money from it. I’ve done fairs that I’ve worked my butt off making enough stock for, spent five hours setting up and worked my stall for 20 hours to not sell enough to cover the market rent. That’s gut wrenching.
There’s nothing to do with fairness in that either and don’t expect any refunds. It is a business risk that didn’t work. For your own peace of mind you need to seek out your own silver linings and make them work.
And sometimes you get lucky and have absolutely brilliant results from all your hard work.
7. It is wonderful being part of a caring and supportive community.
My weekly stall is at The Rocks Markets and I love being part of that supportive and caring creative family. We all know what it’s like to have our own creative businesses and we go through the good and bad weather together.
We inspire and feed each other, hold each other when trying not to cry, give practical feedback on new designs and back each other up. It is wonderful.
8. To do lists are usually overly ambitious for the time you’ve allocated them.
I’m pretty sure this is true for everyone. I’ve found my Make It Happen journal to be a great way for me to get through my to do lists, maybe not in the original time frame I imagined.
I’ve learned that I lose time when I’m making, writing and painting so having a planning tool that I can refocus with makes a huge difference. You get more done when you’re kind to yourself rather than beating yourself up about it.
Just be prepared for your creative business taking a year or two for each stage, it does for all of us.
Make Every Day Creative
A full time creative business isn’t for everyone but living a rich life by making every day creative is. So find the balances that work in your life by giving things a go. It is entirely possible to have a profitable creative business, it just may look different to what you originally envisioned, but then, you’ll be a different person because of the journey anyway.
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