Are you feeling paralyzed because you have TOO many ideas you’re excited about for your business? You have so many interests and are inspired by so many things that it’s like you have an idea for an entirely different business every single day? By the end of this post, you’re going to know how to make the best choice in order to move forward in the smartest way possible. You’ll also learn the biggest mistake people make when trying to make this choice, how to avoid it, and even how to structure your business so you don’t feel like you have to choose.
I help creative entrepreneurs marry their creativity with business in order to feel more confidence, freedom, and fun in the work they do. I’m going to share the exact approach I’ve used to guide my one-to-one clients to making five or six figures in their creative business.
After you’ve decided that you want to pursue something new you’re excited about in your business, you’ll find yourself at a crossroads that’s as delicious as it is paralyzing,
Photography or baking? Weddings or branding, stock photography shop or a course? Mastering photoshop or learning film? Creative retreats or coaching? The way most people view this decision of which business idea to pursue is as a fork in the road. Like it’s this cosmic decision that your entire life depends on and you better not make the wrong one.
You talk to your friends endlessly about which business you should pursue. You brainstorm all kinds of ideas, but the decision still isn’t a clear one.
While you watch reruns of The Office, you start saving all of the different ideas for which way your business should go. You mentally or physically make a list of pros and cons…yet the decision still isn’t clear, so you put the decision away, hoping you’ll get clarity later, hoping that the right answer will be revealed to you.
If you’ve been wrestling with this question for a while, continuing to talk in circles about it isn’t going to get you any closer to an answer. Why? Because people have lied to you about what business growth is like. And I don’t think it’s on purpose. A lot of business educators will make it seem like you just need to come up with a clear idea of who you’ll sell to, and exactly what you’ll sell them.
Educators out there might say, “this is what I wish I would’ve done when I started,” and outline a different world where they just started with what they’re doing right now from the beginning. But the truth is that they never would be where they are now if they would’ve only done that from the beginning.
The problem is that when you frame your decision like a fork in the road, you will feel paralyzed and never make a decision. You’re too afraid that if you choose the wrong fork, you’ll end up regretting it and wondering, “what if I had chosen something else?”
Plus, it’s likely that when you do go down one path, you will have a breakthrough full of clarity, and realize that it’s time to course correct. But if you’re imagining it as a fork in the road, you’ll only feel discouraged, regretful, and like you’ve failed. I want to help you reframe that, because it’s not what happened.
They would come to me, telling me one specific thing they wanted to do. Maybe they wanted to be a wedding photographer. We’d work together for months on this project and launch it. Things would go well for them and I’d be so excited that I’d helped launch a photographer into the world. Then, they’d turn around and start doing something else.
At first, I felt like I’d failed as a coach. But as I watched them work the magic we’d found together, I realized all that was happening was that they were more in tune with and aligned with their heart. They were pivoting into something even more authentic for them. What I realized was that neither my work with them, nor their departure from the path we’d been on together was a mistake. They were moving powerfully forward in the best direction for them.
In one of my favorite biographies ever, LEONARDO DA VINCI by Walter Isaacson, you learn just how curious and creative Leonardo really was. He seemed to pursue exactly what was pulling on his heart. When he wanted to study engineering, he worked on war machines. When he wanted to learn more about the human body, he did anatomical studies. And the incredible thing is that those interests fed into each other.
We never would’ve had the Mona Lisa without both the intensive anatomical studies he did, and the intensive work he did to hone his painting technique. Leonardo never made a definite decision. And you know what? He never lacked clients and patrons. He did quite well throughout his life. And if he would’ve been even just a little better at finishing projects, he would’ve amassed even more wealth. But I think he cared more about pursuing his curiosities than making money, so he felt fulfilled anyway.
Don’t be afraid of not knowing exactly what will happen right away. Instead, trust that every decision you are making is going to help guide you in the way you’re meant to go. Whenever you’re feeling worried, tell yourself again and again:
The truth is, you wouldn’t be at the beautiful place you are now where you’re presented with opportunities without the choices you’ve made in the past. Your business tree is growing, and when the time is right, you’ll know when to prune your tree.
Let’s talk about Carli Anna. Carli was one of my very first clients ever, and when she came to me, she wanted to be a stationer, but she could hardly get anyone to pay more than a couple hundred bucks for her to design anything for them. She also worked for a wedding blog she was considering taking over. She also had ideas to make new tools for artists. She also wanted to take people on adventures all over Utah and Idaho. All of these ideas are SO fun and amazing, and still may be in her future.
When we started working together, we didn’t take any of these ideas off the table. We just picked one thing to work on first, which was a semi-custom line of stationary. Carli worked so hard to create a beautiful line of semi-custom wedding invitations, and she launched it with huge success. She had a huge boost in her following, and new clients reaching out. Soon after we finished working together, the timing wasn’t great to be booking more stationary clients, and she knew her family needed money. That’s when Carli decided to try out branding.
Using the same launch plan we’d used to launch her semi-custom stationary, Carli launched her branding services and sold out within a few days. As she went deeper and deeper into branding, she fell more and more in love with the strategy and processes around it. Eventually, her semi-custom line disappeared off her website. When I asked her about it she told me that as she was working on a stationary client’s work, she realized that with the time and attention she was putting into this invitation, she could be charging 3-4x as much if she were working with a brand client, and she removed the offering from her website the same day.
Now she charges $15k for branding and brings in multiple six figures a year. She recently bought an expensive fishing pole for her husband who loves to fish, she’s about to put him through school for the second time, and she is obsessed with the work she does.
Now let me ask you…is she wrong for having pursued stationary from the beginning? When I asked her this, she says absolutely not. The work she did in stationary became her launching pad for her branding services. She learned from it all. Her journey was moving along perfectly, just as your’s is. Are you ready to take action?
If you want to learn more about how to build a profitable creative business, go check out emmanatter.com where we have incredible resources to help you build the business of your dreams while creating beautiful work you love. Plus, keep your ears out for when we open our doors to The Aesthetic Way where you’ll learn exactly how to package, sell, and launch your products, services, and programs so you can get your important work out there.
Emma Natter is a business coach, public academic, and writer. Her work intersects entrepreneurial strategies with the creative process so career hopefuls can find success, impact, fulfillment, and confidence in going their own way.
I’m Emma Natter, a path-to-success paver and art-trained business coach who first shattered her own career expectations by selling out of handmade styling goods from her little NYC apartment. Now as a strategist to thousands of creatives, I teach you to harness your passion so you can do the same.
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