The number one challenge for you as a creative entrepreneur is how to succeed in making money from your passion and sense of purpose.
In the UK, where I live, most start-up enterprises fail and are out of business within a year. Of those that succeed, a third of their owners take home less than £10,000 a year. Only 2% of entrepreneurs in one of the most developed countries in the world earn more than £150,000.
It’s the same story around the world. Even the US, the home of entrepreneurship, what they call “non-employer businesses” average revenues of $44,000. That’s before costs or overheads are deducted.
Something is clearly wrong.
Traditional wisdom has it that the pursuit of passion over profit is a bad idea, that the most effective businesses are those that concentrate most of their attention working on profit.
Chris Ducker articulates this position well:
“Passion makes a terrible CFO, ladies and gents. Passion will tell you to start your business without a clear idea of who you’re serving or how you’ll make money. Passion will tell you to work for free or for ‘exposure’. Passion will tell you that loving what you do is the best reason to start a business.
“Passion will also up and LEAVE the second things get challenging. And then what? (Because business gets really challenging, really quick!)
“I’m sure you see it now. Passion is basically your inner five-year-old demanding a corner office and free reign of the accounts. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve parented a five year old (three times now!). Lovely people, but I wouldn’t hire one!
And neither should you.”
I often agree with Chris but in this I completely differ. I believe that if more people found and followed their passion, in a creative way, we’d have more successful small business.
To check your passion in at the door of your business would leave creativepreneurs with nowhere to go. For us, the passion is the point.
Making Money From Your Passion: Creative Energy
Whether we’re an author who wants to write books, an artist who wants to make art, a coach who wants to be down in the trenches with the client, a vegan chef who wants the world to go plant-based: we’re running our businesses so we can make a living doing what we love.
And probably furthering a purpose. Or at least an idea or two.
Most businesses outsource the manufacturing, the making, the content of the business. That’s the bit we most want to do.
It’s my own experience, and my observation over two decades of working with creatives, that passion is what keeps you going and keeps you growing. There are always ups and downs in every business (in every life, in every day). Passion provides the fuel for lifting you out of the down and the expanding the up.
When you’re attuned to your passion, you know your creative intention. You may not know exactly what’s ahead but you know your direction and, most important of all, you’re not fixed on the destination. You enjoy the doing for its own sake.
Doing your thing makes you feel more intensely alive, energetic and joyful. Your focus is as much on the process as the end product.
The creative energy unleashed by passion cannot be underestimated.
Making Money From Your Passion: The Process
Yet Chris, and others who put profit before passion are right in saying that in order to succeed, and make that living, you have to make something people want to buy.
In the past this was a real problem for creatives, who were restricted by the size of their niche market in their locality. The Internet changed all that. With a global audience, everybody can reach enough people to make a living.
In fact, going small, being clear about your micro-niche, is the best way to succeed today.
The sequence of commercial and creative success for creative entrepreneurs goes like this:
Making Money From Your Passion Step 1: GO PASSIONATE to Create
Work out what you want to make of yourself and who you want to offer it to.
Making Money From Your Passion Step 2: GO PACED To Produce
Understand that rest and play are not breaks from the process, they are the process.
Making Money From Your Passion Step 3: GO PITCH To Inspire
Compose and learn off a written pitch that gives a powerful answer to the question “What do you do”, communicating your value with clarity, in a way that inspires action.
Making Money From Your Passion Step 4: GO MAKE ASSETS to Earn
See which assets you’ve already created, check how they’re working for you (fun, unique, impactful? you? valuable? scalable?) and decide what to drop, what to refine and what to make next.
Making Money From Your Passion Step 5: GO WITH THE PROCESS To Further Flow
Find out which stage you’re at with each project/product and with your overall enterprise
Making Money From Your Passion Step 6: GO PUBLISH To Grow Profile, Discoverability and Authority
Create credibility and discoverability in your chosen field with your own media: books, blogs, articles, white papers, social media updates.
Making Money From Your Passion Step 7: GO PARTNER to Expand
Create opportunities by partnering with high performers.
More on these steps next time.