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Website & graphic design

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Creative Business Is About Self-Respect

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

“When you layer onto your creative business all of the things you and it are not, you are expressing your irrational fear that what YOU do is not enough. Same goes for your business process. Any creative business that does things the way everyone else does even if it does not work for them is, well, not very creative.”

Creative business is about self-respect, setting the course for the journey you will take your clients on to arrive at your art. In this way, creative businesses and their owners stand apart. Those who sell defined products or services have already pre-determined the journey—buy the specific product or service or don’t. It is what it is. Creative businesses, by definition, sell the opposite—the “it” does not exist until a creative business creates “it” for its clients. Getting to the “it” is the entire reason creative businesses exist. Yet, all too often the focus is on the proverbial destination rather than the journey, as if you were selling interchangeable widgets. Why? Plain old fear.

There are two kinds of fear—rational and irrational. If someone puts a loaded gun to your head, that is rational fear. You should be scared and something would be very off if you were not. However, being afraid that the Moon is going to fall out of the sky and hit you on the head is irrational. It is not going to happen and worrying that it will is a distraction (larger psychological issues aside).

By the same token, doing that which is antithetical to your being as an artist, creative business owner, and even your own sense of humanity is equally irrational. And being scared of doing otherwise is not real fear. Bunny Williams might be able to fake loving Zen minimalism once or twice, but it is not who she is. If her creative business refuses to acknowledge that she does not do Zen, what does it say about what she does do? When you layer onto your creative business all of the things you and it are not, you are expressing your irrational fear that what YOU do is not enough. Same goes for your business process. Any creative business that does things the way everyone else does even if it does not work for them is, well, not very creative. And if your business process is boring and disconnected, how exactly are your clients supposed to get excited (ie., pay you) for the journey to arrive at your art?

All of which brings me to the illusion of choice. You might think you can do what you do not, act in a way that belies you, your art and your creative business, but you cannot. Pretending to be something you are not is unsustainable, not so much because you cannot fake it well, but because you will pale against those who are the real deal. If you cannot make a sustainable creative business doing the art you want to do, in the way you want to do it, then you simply do not have a business. However, before you get to that place, the effort first has to be to strip away all the things you are not, focus solely on what you are and charge appropriately for that journey.

For instance, go read the copy on your website. If it says anything that cannot be true in the opposite (ie., our business is all about fantastic customer service), then you are saying nothing. So take it out. Same goes with pictures that tell the viewer nothing about what you stand for. Leave the pretty pictures for Flickr. If a fifth grader cannot understand how and why you do things (ie., they won’t get that that is just the way it is done), then change it so they can. Work to find disconnects and then fix them (ie., spending hour(s) with a prospective client and then sending a draconian contract you would not wish on your worst enemy). Be ruthless with the truth of who you, your art and your creative business are. Do the opposite of apologizing and hiding behind art and process that are not you.

If you still cannot make it, then you have your answer. My guess though is that self-respect will be its own reward.

Cover image and top image from Shutterstock.

This is a cross-post from The Business of Being Creative.

Sean Low is the Founder and President of The Business of Being Creative, a consulting firm focused on providing practical advice to those in the business of being creative. Prior to founding The Business of Being Creative, Sean spent six years as the President of Preston Bailey Design, Inc. representing Preston in his business endeavors around the world. Sean has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his twenty years of business experience ranges from law, investment banking, financial executive to small business owner.

View more at:
http://www.designtaxi.com/article/101779/Creative-Business-Is-About-Self-Respect/

“When you layer onto your creative business all of the things you and it are not, you are expressing your irrational fear that what YOU do is not enough. Same goes for your business process. Any creative business that does things the way everyone els…