As the year is coming to a close, I thought I'd focus on a big picture topic this week. I always like thinking about the year ahead around the holidays, even though it's such a busy time. It's worth it to take an hour or two to reflect on how far you've come!
It's been a little over 5 years since I left my previous job to run my creative business full-time. Although, I did first register my business name while in college about 10 years ago. I can't believe I'm saying that! It has truly been an adventure.
Thinking back on these last years, I wanted to share with you a few things I wish I had known. But still, I have no regrets! It's all part of the adventure. Let's dive in.
It's ok if it takes time for your business to grow.
You might have an expectation that right out of the gate, your business will work exactly as you envisioned it. Or maybe you just really *hope* it will (like I did!). The truth is it does take time, sometimes years, to provide a sustainable living for yourself and your family.
You may have to make it work with other jobs in the meantime. You may have to have a big chunk of savings ready to fallback on. Or maybe you're the adventurous type and starting it off with a loan. However you do it, it will take patience and hard work no matter what. And that is the typical experience, and does not make you a failure.
You don't need to rent a fancy office space right from the start.
Okay, pretty office spaces are dreamy and you likely already have a Pinterest board going for yours. It is absolutely ok to dream ahead for that office space or art studio that is probably going to happen for you one day!
But in the beginning (and always!), try to keep your expenses lean. In most cases in the creative business world, you don't *need* an office space outside of your home. Carve out a corner in your home or your dining room table. Try out a co-working space for a day if you need that interaction with other people. Bring your laptop or watercolors to the coffee shop.
You will relieve a ton of pressure from yourself in the beginning if you don't have office/studio rent to pay on top of all of your other biz and personal living expenses!
Support and a like-minded community is crucial.
Ideally, your family and friends support your new venture and are willing to be there for you. I know, however, that for some people that is not always the case.
At the very least, I suggest finding a community of like-minded business owners who can truly get you and be there for you when you need it. Yes, you can seek out a mentor of sorts who may be ahead of you, but I actually suggest finding others who are at the same stage as you are.
Look for friends and allies who are trying to grow a creative business (it doesn't have to be exactly the same type as yours, but it can) and ask them if they'd like to join a private Slack or Facebook group with you. Around 5-8 people is usually a good group number. It's also important to make sure they are willing to be active in the group with you, so you can set some loose ground rules if it helps - maybe ask for a commitment to a monthly Zoom meeting or something like that!
I believe that doing this will not only help you grow your business, but also help keep your mental health in check, too.
Give yourself grace and patience.
The most important aspect of your business is YOU! Take care of your mind, body, and spirit because your business and art needs you and your talents most of all.
If you can always remember that, you are setting yourself up for success!