I have this theory that new ventures can be daunting for people because they are a blank page. You can have an idea that goes something like “I really want to turn making my market skirts into a business”. You don’t get long into that thought until you realise “….but how do you just ‘go for it’? How do you create or shape your success??!”.
As a creative entrepreneur, creativity is at it’s easiest for me when I have some sort of constraints. Starting a new business is kind of like recieving an open brief – literally anything can be possible but there are always constraints – time and money are the most common. But what about confidence?! There won’t be anyone looking over your shoulder, telling you if you’re doing the right thing or if you’re on the right track…..
But I’m going to let you in on a little entrepreneur secret: nobody really does know how to do it. They just do.
The importance of actively shaping your success
I had a manager once who had the working style as me. He didn’t like being prescriptive at all because of project ownership blossoms right from the ‘defining your own parameters’ part. On my first day in the job he said to me “I pay you a lot of money to know what needs to be done, not to tell you how you need to do it”. I respected him for being so open and he taught me a lot about systems thinking, process development and management. As a result, he influenced my creative practice enormously as I tried to take on a task that was adequately resourced but without any understanding of what could be possible and what success looked like.
It was going all fine until there was a change in line management and I got a new boss. This boss had a very different style (not to mention was vastly less experienced in management than my previous manager) so everything fell over pretty quickly. It was through this failure that I have learnt a lot about open briefs, the importance of shaping your success to create an optimum environment for project success.
1. Ditch all the noise and focus
There are a million people on the internet who are trying to sell you some ‘key to success’ style online course where you mortgage your first child in the hope you’ll see some dividend. It’s all nonsense. So, how can you shape your success when you don’t even really know what success looks like? What happens when you have a blank page to work with?
2. Know that the goal posts will always shift
I’ve been self-employed for the better part of my career. Because of my skill set as a New Media Artist, I can quickly translate a vague feeling or an idea into some sort of creative output. My skillset means that I am that person who is awesome at starting ideas and quitting on them not long after. This happens generally when I find some other idea that doesn’t mesh with what I’m doing. But, when I came to understand and accept this is how I do things, it empowered me. I know this about myself and I have learnt to recognise and adapt. The goal posts will always shift in life. Nothing remains the same. So reflect, accept and adapt.
3. Be confident to have courageous conversations
I love to know as much as I can about my client and their business so I can produce my best work. This is because I define my ‘best work’ as being that which best serves the needs and goals of my client, not my own creative wants as a designer.
The same goes for your own business! Remember you are your own client. Treat yourself that way and treat your business that way. Back yourself and be confident to have courageous conversations. Reach out for what you want. Verbalise it. Go to networking functions and introduce yourself by your dream job title. Be bold. Ask for collaborations, for guest posts; for anything that can move you closer to your goal. You make success by living it.
4. Reflect on how you produce your best work
I really believe that reflection – asking yourself why you do what you do – is the key to unlocking your potential. Creatively or in business or otherwise. Block out time in your calendar to reflect on why you are working in the way you are. Why are you making the decision to move forward? What message are you trying to send? Reflection should become your new religion but shouldn’t stop you from taking action.
5. Understand your processes
You ensure you maintain your client’s support and input throughout your production process right? In this instance though, you are your own client. Treat yourself that way. Understand your processes. Think about what makes you tick. You need to understand everything intimitely so you can be the best boss you can be.
What do you think?
How are you celebrating your success? How do you define success? Do you have big “omg” goals? Share with us all in the comments!