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A Brief Guide to Becoming Self-Employed: Blueprint For Creative Success

Despite the fact that the pay is irregular at best, the work is long, and the rate and impact of failure is much, much higher than traditional 9 am to 5 pm employment - being self-employed has certainly reached celebrity status. Do the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to entrepreneurship? Sure. But, the negative always come first. That is to say, everyone venturing down the glamorized and metaphoric "yellow-brick road" paved with gold must first endure the trials and tribulations that would challenge even the most able the most fabled heroes of old.

Herculean trials aside, there's a price premium on self-employment because of this one thing: you get to work when you want, how you want. It's the stuff of dreams, also of legends. Why peel yourself out of bed before dawn when you get wake up and tend to work in whatever fashion you see fit? Of course, sleep shouldn't dictate an entrepreneur's schedule. Passion and an uncanny ability to motivate self must co-exist if efforts are to lead to successful outcomes. The good news is that nobody is there to tell you what to do. The bad news is that no one is there to tell you what to do. If you don't work, you don't eat.

Because the ever-looming risk of failure awaits those who underestimate the almost Olympian nature of trailblazing your own path through the swath, adopting these patterns of thinking has a tendency to decrease workload while increasing the bottom line. 

Establish Creative Rhythm

Are you truly ready for the dynamics of creative work? The answer to this question will determine your success moving forward. In his book The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry expresses the basics of work in an on-demand world:

Inventing brilliant solutions that meet specific objectives by defined deadlines

The unique set of pressures underscoring self-employment (which is inherently creative in nature) ultimately calls for a change in basic habits and structure of life and time. Everyone from leadership to marketing strategists to team development has to establish an ongoing rhythm founded on value creation through perpetual brilliance and an ever-increasing capacity for learning and productivity. Here's a simple formula for effectiveness and consistency throughout your journey as proposed by the author:

Prolific + Brilliant + Healthy = producing great work consistently and in a sustainable way

Despite what most may think, it becomes more and more necessary to place barricades around the creative process. Unfettered, frenetic work does more harm than good at the end of the day. Take this to heart and half the battle is already won.

Time Is The Most Precious Resource 

Busy is an understatement - you are either all in or not in at all. There's so much that goes into starting and running a viable business that you soon realize just how vital setting up a reliable schedule becomes. We all have 24 hours to get it right. Remember, success leaves clues and your results depend on using time to your advantage. Sacrifice is the key. You will probably have to forego entertainment, outings with friends, various events, and perhaps even your dating life (yup, I know). What's more important?

Relationships Determine Success

Todd Henry said it best, "creative work isolates you because a substantial amount of it must be accomplished alone." 

How many of us try to go at it alone? How many of us neglect vital relationships because there just isn't enough time to get to everything and everyone? 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but doing this is detrimental - you are starving yourself of potentially eye-opening influence, the type of input that leads to profound, creative breakthroughs. Don't ignore people, foster them. They have so much to give to you and vice versa. Try this instead:

  1. Start and/or join groups of entrepreneurs and creatives
  2. Build a core team of dedicated practitioners
  3. Schedule regular "meetings of the minds"

It's not what you know, but who you know - that old adage rings true today just like it did thousands of years ago and will thousands of years from now. People just like you will help you get what you want. Business is built on connections, customers, and community. Make as many connections as possible and not just with other creative individuals - seek input from various parties through established contacts to referrals and everything in between. The diamond is in the rough.

Get On the Offensive

Wait! Before you go about combing your network or finding potential clients, understand that no business plan is viable without considerable planning that is realistic and tangible. Set concrete goals that are measurable.

" I want X clients by X date"

"I want to make X by X date"

A ship doesn't set out without a port and a plane doesn't take off without a destination. A traditional business plan isn't as important as it use to be, but defining the service or product, defining your niche, or developing the ultimate value proposition are all still apart of self-employment.





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