As a creative entrepreneur, whether you have been building your business for years or are just in the initial planning stages, you must ask yourself WHY and you must ask yourself this seemingly simple question often. The tendency for creatives, especially when they are first starting out, is to say YES to any client that comes their way. There is so much fear in saying NO and having boundaries. As creatives we are afraid of missing out on opportunities. We love creating and honestly we could probably create just about anything. But do you want to create just anything or do you want to create work that excites you and that you truly believe in? In order to have a strong brand that is something you believe in that gives you the freedom to pursue work you really love doing, you must first know WHY you are doing what you are doing, you must first know what you believe in. Knowing those things and having a firm grasp on them will help you institute boundaries and give you the strength and wisdom needed to be able to say no to projects, work and clients that simply do not fit.
For example, imagine you are an interior designer who has a deep passion for creating warm, inviting spaces for families. But you never defined those boundaries for your business. You never asked WHY and subsequently never defined your mission and your purpose which leads to you taking on more and more work that you are less than passionate about (think corporate office spaces or retail stores). You face almost a daily burnout because you are doing work that you really do not want to be doing at all. And you have left no space to be able to do the work that you love… Maybe because you never defined what that work was that you really did love.
A fellow creative who is just in the initial planning stages of starting a business asked me, “Where do I even begin? I just want to do it all!” My answer to her was “You can never do it all.”
You can try. But your work will be less than mediocre as you are trying to satisfy too many different needs.
Instead of saying YES to any work and opportunity that comes your way, let’s take a step back and build a framework for your business. We are continuing to develop a strong foundation in the hopes of building a strong brand.
You must ask yourself WHY.
+ Why are you on this entrepreneurial adventure in the first place?
+ What is your mission?
+ What is your purpose?
+ What do you hope to gain by pursuing this business?
+ Why do you want to have your own business?
+ Why do you want to have a creative business?
+ What need do you desire to meet in the industry?
+ What type of work makes you giddy?
+ What do you know, for sure, you do not want to do? (i.e. types of work, types of clients)
Spend some time really thinking through those questions. It is so important that you have a solid understanding of WHY you are doing this at all and what you hope to achieve by doing this at all. If you do not take the time to work through these questions and work through them often (because we change, our businesses change, our circumstances and desires change – so we must ask WHY often) then you will have no framework through which to pursue this business. Knowing the answers to the above questions will give you the ability to have boundaries and effortlessly say NO when a project or client does not necessarily fit your deeper WHY. And when you say NO to the things that do not fit within those boundaries, you are giving room to pursue those things that you really do believe in, the things that fit within your mission and purpose as a creative.
For example, I longed to design a collection of paper goods and products that beautifully spoke truth. I had that desire for about 2 years before I ever had the space to actually make it happen. Meaning, my schedule was full to the brim with projects and clients that were not a great fit, that did not understand or care about my deeper mission and desire for my business. I said yes, because I was afraid to say no. I said yes, because I was confused as to what I really wanted my business to be and to stand for. I learned the hard way that boundaries are for our good; they are a blessing.
So, spend some time identifying your WHY and setting boundaries so that you can build a business and a brand that is perfectly YOU, that is about your mission and purpose, that is a result of pure passion!