When I was thinking about creating another business, in my general state of contemplating, I kept thinking...
I want to help people find their creative bones like I have done before, but will this business be about me, or will it be by me?
If it were to be about me, I would always be under pressure to reveal my story and my life. Always in deliberation about how much I should reveal. I think deep down, this is a great strategy for someone who loves the limelight, but for me, I think it would be stretching my comfort zone and my love of personal space just a little too much.
So during this small deliberation, I decided it is not about me as a Creative Entrepreneur, a Designer or a Consultant, it is about me being a Mentor. Helping others realise their dreams.
I would like to share with you the perfect formula for being creative, but it doesn’t work that way.
It is a bit of a painful realisation but ultimately it is different for everyone, and everyone needs to trust their unique perspective on the process and the journey they are about to embark on.
For me, I work on my own, from the kitchen table, in the sunlight, creating material through graphics and words, all delivered digitally. I have my computer, my notebook, my coffee and not much else.
There are some days I wish I had someone to bounce ideas off or someone to carry out the mundane tasks, but for the moment I can handle running my lifestyle business solo!
Although I have complete freedom and flexibility to do want I want, when I want, I do have to keep a working structure to keep me focused and on task. Productivity can fly out the door and procrastination sneaks in if I am not strict with myself and my work routines. I create an hour by hour daily schedule ensuring I keep my work life balance on target, because after all, that is what I have created, “a Lifestyle Business”.
This can be a challenge some days because the other side of me likes to change things about. Those personality tests tell me I'm a "visionary". I am someone who is always looking at the big picture, and if I need to take a different tack to get to the big end goal then I will happily lose the structure for a bit of creative adventure. But structure and focus are both definitely important to be able to tick boxes.
For me, I think adding creativity is really important to a successful lifestyle business.
I creatively brainstorm or mindmap every aspect, every decision, every question, every variation and then one by one cross them out until I am left with ones that stand out.
This way I know I am addressing some outlandish ideas, or maybe the opposite, covering the ultra simple, bordering on the boring concept, or maybe something in between, but knowing I have exhausted all options I can begin to believe and embrace my ideas. This also helps to find your business's value proposition or its competitive edge.
This extraction method is highly productive because it gets rid of everything that is not making a point.
Most creatives make the mistake of adding, but indeed, if you subtract and provide a little whitespace or a little breathing room then your message will be clearer.
Start somewhere. Start writing, start drawing, start doodling. Get some ideas down on paper. It’s not about waiting for inspiration to strike, it’s about providing the opportunity to allow inspiration to peak through.
Something amazing might happen, or maybe it won’t, but all that matters is you have enabled a chance for something to happen. And for that, you have to sit at a desk and start making decisions, start answering questions and hopefully come up with the beginnings of a plan.
Curiously, try throwing in something you think you will regret and see if it ends up being the most interesting part. If all fails, take a break, get some air and come back refreshed later.
When I was younger, I was always searching for a profession. I always wanted to have a “title”, so when someone asked me what I did, I could say with absolute confidence…”I am a…..”.
But I’ve come to the realisation Creatives don’t stick to one profession, they have many, and that is OK, it’s more than OK. The turning point was when I started to find people like me. People who understood me, the people who thought my crazy ideas were not crazy at all.
This is the essence.
Finding your groove and sharing your experiences and knowledge with people who want to listen. This is so much more interesting and energising than explaining or defining your work to those that don’t understand or don’t have an interest.
I have my “creative crushes”. I have people or mentors who I look up to. These people inspire me and keep me focused and keep me in touch with my ultimate goals. After all, if I don’t have goals, I don’t have a business because they are still just pipe dreams.
These “creative crushes” also give me the strength and courage I need to stop feeling embarrassed about what I do and what I create. If I wait for the perfect timing and a perfect composition, I would get nothing done. I have learnt to have the courage and to not worry about what “imperfections” I may have made. I feel it is better to have something “out there” for people to see than to have it hidden away or worse still, whirring around in my head.
I have my creative work zone. I am not a fan of mixing work with my personal life. So I like to structure my time for pure focus on either work or family, not mixed. Admit, there are times when I need to pump out an email in family time, or I have to do the grocery shopping in work time, but generally, I am a lot more productive and present if I separate the two.
I am also one of those types of people who changes direction when things are going well! Crazy stuff, I know. I always feel the need to top up my creative tank. And to do that, I actively seek and accept every opportunity that comes across my table. I am not scared of opening a new door. I don’t necessarily know where that door may lead but whatever the situation I find, I will guarantee you I will make the most of it.
Changing your direction or mindset doesn’t have to be hard. All it probably needs is a little tweak or pivot. What other people do, and what you want to do, doesn’t have to correlate, and this is mindset a budding innovator needs to have. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and totally change traditional business methods, but certainly, put a new spin on things to help you get a competitive edge.
It has been happening in the music industry for decades. They don’t invent a new story, they tell the same story again and again in a new and interesting way. There have been many a song written about love, they all just tell the story differently and target their audience and pitch their delivery in a way they know their audience will love.
More and more, people are wanting to feel personally connected before committing to a decision. They want to hear your version, through your voice and personality, pointing out the big truths.
The designer in me has taught me not to give away the whole story in the beginning. The skill of leaving room for imagination allows your audience to be intrigued, captivated and ultimately connected.
So zoom out, take a high-level approach to your ideas and designs. Getting bogged down in the detail, in the beginning, can really slow you up, so think big picture.
I’m not much of a novel reader because I hardly ever want to escape or be in someone else's world. I work hard at making my life interesting. Everything I read needs to provide value to me, it needs to make my life interesting, it needs to serve a purpose. So when I create, I create with purpose with a particular person in mind.
This is particularly poignant for creators as it gives so much focus and direction, a skill most often lacking for the flamboyant creative. When I start creating for one particular person, I have their name “sticky noted” on my screen and I work to tell them more about what they already know or already have an interest in.
Once I know where to focus, I take a step back.
The approach of not planning and “freestyling”, letting your thoughts lead the way creates these magical moments. And having the courage to be fearless makes me investigate further and sparks amazing creative energy to come up with amazing ideas.
So find your groove, create an experience, and blossom. Flowers bloom side by side on a single tree, not worrying about the obvious competition and so should you.
If you love what you do, is it really your “job”?