My creative business story is one that happened pretty much as a complete accident. I grew up as part of a very entrepreneurial family – my dad was the co-owner of a government consulting company and my mom was a creative dabbler working in fitness, art, healthcare, and more! I never intended to start a business, I was just following my passions. Which led to wondering if creative business was right for me. My business may have felt like an accident, when in reality the qualities I needed to be a successful creative business owner were part of my upbringing all along.
In the early days, my business felt like pushing a huge boulder up a hill. I struggled with so many aspects of starting my creative business, but often the blocks and barriers I perceived to be the real limitations were NOT the actual problem. Some of those block were logistical challenges of finding time in my already packed working mom schedule, or being overwhelmed with how to approach marketing and legal paperwork. I was a creative with a passion for helping others, not a natural born business owner.
Then of course there was the sneakier blocks of feeling fear about trying something new and unknown. Wondering if I had was it takes to start a business, wondering if I was enough of an expert, wondering if people would see me as an imposter instead of a “real” creative business owner, wondering if I was actually READY to take this leap and do something big and scary just for me.
What I’ve uncovered after 10 years in business for myself, and working with hundreds of women who have walked this path of starting creative business is this: you are NOT alone. Even if you feel like your struggles and blocks and fears are unique – you can breathe a sigh of relief. We ALL go through these same feelings when we are starting our creative business journey.
It’s always helpful to know what we are feeling and experiencing is universal. But, what is even more interesting (and even more important) to recognize are the qualities that will support you through these business struggles and barriers.
Here are what I have found to be the 4 essential qualities of every successful creative business owner, a list I use every time we connect with prospective clients for our Confidence Coaching Collective to ensure we are good fit to work together.
You are dedicated to the success of your creative business dreams
If you are serious and ready to explore starting a creative business – whether that be a side hustle, direct-sales or MLM gig, or full time career move – you have to put in the hours to make progress on your goals. As moms, I know we desire a space that gives us purpose outside the rewards we get raising kiddos. But, that space won’t just magically appear unless you make it a priority. Creative business owners schedule time for themselves and their business daily.
You lead with empathy
Starting a creative business is an act of service. Yes the creativity will serve us too (the businesses creative create are often ones of personal passion and purpose), but at the end of the day you want to connect with people too. Empathy is that super power that keeps your clients coming back for more because they LOVE you as a human and the love working with you because you just “get” them.
You have a spirit of resilience
This may not be the news you want to hear, especially when you are an empathetic giver like me – but at some point in business you will fail. You will hear no. Someone won’t like your work. You’ll completely flake and forget a client call or forget to bring your wallet to client celebrate dinner (oh wait…that might just be me…), or you’ll need to set a boundary with someone that feels like you are letting them down. It’s not easy for our ego to hear no or to feel like we are failing. But the more we live through those failures and realize they are allowing us to learn from them, the quicker we can adjust and make space for future wins.
You are adaptable when something in your creative business goes off the rails
Being a business owner often means being a bit open to the unknown and ambiguity. Each day is a grand experiment and you’ll have to be open to pivoting as the experiment unfolds. Shifts will happen as you learn what you enjoy creating. I learned in my first year in business that I hated offering photo sessions but LOVED teaching others. So I adapted to suit my skills and preferences. But you may also have those moments where a scheduled session can’t happen because of a snow storm, or no one buys the new product you were SO excited to announce. A big part of business is leaning in and leading your clients with clear solutions when the unexpected happens.
The easier you can access these qualities within yourself, the faster you’ll be able to find the tools and strategies to move forward as a successful creative business owner despite any barriers that stand in your way.