The global landscape of work is changing. For the majority of Americans, long gone are the days when you could land a 9-5 job at 22 years old and stay there until you retired. Pensions are almost entirely a thing of the past, company loyalty is nonexistent, and corporate America holds no promise of longevity and security anymore. None of us know what the future of the economy and commerce holds.
Some may read that and panic. Entrepreneurs will feel the fire of motivation ignite within them. I certainly did.
Technology is overhauling the economy industry by industry, and digital marketplaces are growing in strength and popularity. We are standing at the brink of a countercultural movement where shopping small and sustainably is the new norm. There are endless uncharted territories and unlimited potential for creative entrepreneurs.
After years of building my creative business, I’ve learned a few things in the process. I want nothing more than to see thousands of flourishing creative entrepreneurs around the world, so I’ve written down some of the most essential (and hardest) lessons I’ve learned.
1. Planning is everything…and nothing goes according to plan.
“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower had it right. In the world of creative entrepreneurialism, nothing ever goes according to plan, but without having a strategic plan and thoughtfulness, you’ll fail. Starting a company, especially at a young age, is never easy, but with a “can-do” attitude, your success is unlimited.
2. Trust your gut.
This applies to everything in life, but it’s particularly crucial when starting a business. No one knows your brand, your product, and your business more than you do. As you grow your business, trust your gut, and stay true to what feels right.
3. Being patient is key.
Patience is integral when transitioning into entrepreneurialism because success does not happen overnight. Don’t skip any steps.
Remember that Jeff Bezos started Amazon out of his garage at 30 years old, and Mark Zuckerburg started Facebook out of his college dorm. It’s never too late or too early to become a creative entrepreneur if you’re willing to put in the time.
If you start your own company, you will no longer have a 9-5 job. You’ll pull countless all-nighters, forget what day it is, and have life-changing ideas strike at the least opportune moments. This is all part of the process, though.
From first-hand experience, I can attest that discipline is the only way to fulfill your dreams. On the days when I wanted to throw in the towel, I remembered why I got started in the first place and how far I’d come. Being a creative entrepreneur has taught me to believe in myself and to fall in love with the journey. Trust me, every all-nighter was worth it.
4. Challenging yourself is essential…and inevitable.
When starting a business, there are no easy ways to the top, and there’s no way to know all of the answers from the beginning. Consistency, perseverance, determination, and continued effort to learn will help grow your company. You must challenge yourself to go outside of your comfort zone. Often this means becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Creating that company Instagram account, pitching your brand to a stranger, or seeking out a mentor is all part of the journey. Go with the flow and understand that learning is the greatest investment you can make in your business.
5. Build a network (and then keep building a network).
Creating a network is a never-ending job. You’ll need to invest time in networking even when your company is thriving. Remember that you can learn, support, and grow from anyone and everyone.
6. Have a unique mindset.
Being a creative entrepreneur means not taking “no” for an answer. It’s easier said than done, but the resilience and sheer determination will decide whether or not your business succeeds.
Ayn Rand said it best.
7. It’s okay to fail.
I’ve learned far more from my failures than successes, and every creative thinker has to be prepared for failure and hardship. The beauty of commerce and entrepreneurialism is that you have the chance to learn from your mistakes and try again.
8. Success is equal parts of creativity and entrepreneurialism.
We all have creativity within us, and many of us have a money-making idea. However, not all of us have entrepreneurialism in our bones.
Entrepreneurialism requires a little bit of craziness, plenty of risks, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. If you’re thinking about transitioning a passion into a viable business, be prepared to throw everything you got behind your idea.
It’s okay to have a creative pursuit that remains a hobby. Think about how much you’re willing to sell your creativity because that’s at the foundation of creative entrepreneurialism.
9. Success is simply the ability to make money doing something you love.
It’s great to have goals and milestones in place throughout the development of your venture. At the end of the day, though, if you can make money by doing something you love and seeing your dreams come to life, you’ve found success. Don’t get caught up in the details.
10. Cultivate long-term freedom and flexibility.
Building a business can feel like an uphill battle. You’ll have to sacrifice a lot in the process: free time, security, steady paychecks. Longterm, though, those sacrifices will result in a unique career where you have complete flexibility and freedom in how, when, and where you work. Even more importantly, you’ll have a brand that reflects who you are and how you live your life.
A Final Word
There is no singular path to success. If you want to start your own business and don’t know how to move forward, here are some lucrative ideas: photography, modeling, graphic design, blogging, and styling. I want to stress that these are just a few of your options. Think about the unique experience, mindset, and skillset you bring to the table. Creative entrepreneurialism is grounded in knowing yourself, your values, and what sets you apart from the crowd.
As you now know, it’s all about planning. As you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, do your homework. Once you know yourself and what you bring to the table, it’s time to understand the market. Analyzing data on your desired industry and your competitors will help you carve out a place for yourself in the market, develop your brand, and price your products or services well. Draft a business plan that details your business, how you will operate, and what your mission and goals are. Articulating as much as you can at the outset of your venture will bring clarity to your decision-making. From there, start talking to people, setting up your selling platforms, and learning from mentors, competitors, and customers alike.
What a world we’d live in if every potential creative entrepreneur pursued their unique path to success. Find your voice, use your gift, and enjoy the freedom in building your own business.