You know in cartoons or movies when the main character is trying to make a decision and there’s a little angel and devil perched on their shoulder taunting or encouraging them in either direction?
That’s your life as a creative entrepreneur.
And on your shoulder sit both Creative You and Entrepreneur You.
Constantly having to switch between your “creative” self and your “entrepreneurial” self is tough and can be exhausting.
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Sometimes they overlap, yes. But for the most part, they tend to have different goals and values.
Consider, for example, some scenarios you’ve probably experienced:
Scenario 1: You flat-bid a project and then hit the max number of hours you allotted yourself.
Entrepreneur You would finish up the project as quickly as possible to save margin.
Creative You might justify working a few more hours on the project even though it means lower profitability and delay on other projects. Better to get it right.
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Then again, Entrepreneur You could justify it as a marketing or branding expense: “If I really knock this project out of the park, this client will come back and might even refer their friends.”
See the dilemma?
Or how about this scenario?
Scenario 2: You feel like your work is getting stale so you search the web for some inspiration.
Creative You loves this process. Everything you take in contributes to the work you create yourself.
Entrepreneur You knows this kind of “work” doesn’t pay the bills and constantly nags at Creative You to “get back to work.”
When you finally do get “back to work,” Creative You gives Entrepreneur You a “told you so” because your work really has improved, you feel happier, and you put out more work that you’re proud of.
It’s enough for anyone to start to feel like they have multiple personalities.
So how do you know when to listen to Creative You and when to listen to Entrepreneur You?
The first step is to realize you have to wear both hats at some point if you want to run your own creative business. If you’re going solo at this, you can’t always wear your entrepreneurial hat or you’ll never get any solid creative work done. And you can’t just wear your creative hat all the time or you’ll never succeed at business.
(One small caveat: I realize that to be a successful entrepreneur, you also have to constantly be thinking creatively. This is more about the kind of work you do. Running a business vs. doing the work that your business is all about. For example: finding clients vs. designing web sites.)
Here’s what I recommend:
Take time each day, week, or month (find what works best for you) and put on your entrepreneurial hat. In this moment, you’re thinking 100% about your business: margins, profitability, growth, plans, etc.
Then take off the entrepreneurial hat, put on the creative hat and get to work doing whatever it is that lights you up.
There will be moments when Creative You wants to stick it to Entrepreneur You and watch endless cat videos on YouTube.
If you’re a pro, you’ll stick to the plan Entrepreneur You made.
Soon, you’ll find both Creative You and Entrepreneur You are happily satisfied with your business.
Entrepreneur You gets to focus on increasing profits, feeding your family, and building a business instead of just another job.
And Creative You gets to do enjoyable, creative, interesting and important work.
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