10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 years as a Creative Entrepreneur
NUMBER TWO: Don't make decisions out of fear.
Obviously. But we ALL DO IT! Owning your own company is full of extreme highs and lows. Fear comes from the need to control, but deep down we all know we’re not in control anyway. This might sound shocking but “ANSWERS” can actually be the problem. When we try to have all the answers before moving forward with a decision, we are attempting to control and living out of fear.
There was a particular season when fear ran my life. I was having a particularly low sales quarter, I was exhausted because I wasn’t setting any boundaries with work, I was overcome with stress having to let an employee go, and I found out there were other jewelry designers in my city whose design aesthetic looked strikingly similar to mine. What a month. Fear led all of the following decisions:
- I created deep discount promotions out of desperation.
- Despite my exhaustion I committed to more shows, not less.
- I did an absolutely terrible job with an employee situation which created significant stress and regret for both of us
- I decided to lie (to myself and others) about how much it bothered me that another designer was creating pieces so similar to mine just to “save face” or “be the bigger person.”
If I were to live that season again, I would acknowledge and accept my lack of control, kick fear to the curb, and wait for wisdom. Fear always forces us to REACT. Wisdom whispers “WAIT.” Every time. I don’t mean the stay paralyzed forever kind of wait. I mean the “take a deep breath, center yourself according to the truth and then act.”
Wisdom never promises perfection. NEWS FLASH entrepreneurs: there is no such thing as a perfect decision. That’s fear talking. Wisdom promises to teach you once you’re on the way! No matter how many facts you’ve gathered, answers you’ve compiled, or marks you’ve tallied in the “right” column – the leap of faith you must take is still inevitable. The leaps will be your greatest teachers. Both the bloody nose from your face plant and the perfect 10 stick landing will be gold mines of wisdom.
Rewind back to that season and this is what I believe Wisdom would have said:
- Deep discounts only further reduce the value of your art. Your product should never be sold for a loss as if it was toilet paper on amazon. Value your work. That’s the only chance you have for others to value it too. If you must tweak anything, change the design not the price. Make your art better…not cheaper!
- Consider the effect exhaustion has on your creativity. You are overcommitting and therefore under delivering. Take some time away to remember who you are and what you’d like to create. Rest has a way of reigniting our passion and our purpose…which naturally fuels our productivity.
- Let me just say that failure is the best teacher, because since then I have learned to be more honest about what I need in an employee. I’ve learned to take plenty of time in the hiring process and wait for the right person for the job rather than hire out of fear. And the reward has been a team of unicorns that is no less than magical.
- Whew, this last one took a while to connect with and truly be honest about. For a while I was getting several comments a day that sounded something like “can you believe these girls who are copying you?” I never knew what to say. I didn’t know how to fully show up to the situation. I was supposed to be kind and bless everyone. I tried that but it was a lie.
Turns out the right response wasn’t even a response at all. Fear tends to force us to react. But staying silent while I figured out how to fully show up to the situation would have been just fine. In the waiting and the praying, I’ve discovered something wonderful. ME. Not in an egotistical kind of way. This or that designer may or may not be copying my ideas – my thoughts about that aren’t really relevant here. But wisdom says “She can never copy YOU. No one can. You are 100% one-of-a-kind creation just like your jewelry. Fear says “she’ll steal your ideas.” Wisdom says “she can never steal you.” YOU, Ansley. YOU keep showing up everyday and put your heart and soul into every design.
I don’t own my creativity – I truly believe that it’s a gift from the original Creator himself. My ideas were freely given to me and I will let them freely flow out. Some will copy and honestly, it’s not ok. At best it’s irritating. But I don’t need to try and control other’s responses or react to it at all. I just need to keep showing up to my own art and creativity and thank God everyday for this amazing gift.
So I’ll repeat this: WISDOM MEETS YOU ON THE WAY. So kick fear to the curb and get on with it!