Building a Creative Business is something I have been trying to do for decades. Ironically enough, I didn’t really occur to me until recently. I looked back on the last 15 years and realized that I had a habit of trying these little businesses. Painting portraits, graphic design freelance, an apparel business and now a wood burning business. It wasn’t until I realized the potential for Pyrocrafters that I appreciated how often I’ve tried to do something like this. It’s just in my spirit to build and create something and I’ve finally found the niche that’s right for me. Pyrocrafters is a business I can’t stop building.
I want to share with our followers and readers the process we are going through to build it. The work and time we put in isn’t something we’ve shared yet, but we want to start. We have a lot wood burners coming to us, asking questions and even people that are artists who want to start their own thing, so we are going to answer them….the best we can of course.
Clay and I are just two people with a passion and garage space that we are putting to work. We don’t have all of the answers and we are literally figuring this business out one day at a time, but we will share the lessons of these days and our process if it helps someone else start their business too.
The Day to Day
First, Clay and I both have day jobs. Pyrocrafters isn’t our main focus, but it is our passion. I stay in my own mind way too much about it and I tend to overthink everything about it. So the day to day of NOT working on Pyrocrafters is tough.
I’m constantly thinking of new things to incorporate into our workload, but I have to keep my focus on my job the majority of the work week. I have little post it notes everywhere that I use to keep track of my ideas (or I will forget) and I refer back to them later when I have a chance to think about it more.
With ideas constantly flowing, it can be a struggle to focus on other priorities during the day, but I make a real effort to do it. I actually really enjoy my job as a full time graphic designer, but I’m torn between something else that I love even more. I also have an amazing team that I work with and I’m very loyal to supporting them, so I don’t want to give them less of myself because it’s hard to stop thinking about Pyrocrafters.
It is a real struggle to be torn in this way. Having my full time job is a very important step in building a creative business, so it can’t be minimized or ignored. I need to be just as dedicated as I would anywhere else.
The Struggle is Real
I mention this struggle for one very important reason. Makers tend to have aspirations of quitting their day jobs and jumping off the deep end to achieve their dreams, and they want it “right this second”,not five years from now or ten years from now. I’m not saying you can’t have your personal passion project but a lot of dreamers out there don’t have that option and they give up hope before they even start.
Keeping your day job and building a creative business on the side is 100% possible, but it’s HARD. It’s hard to have two jobs and not get paid for one of them. It’s hard to feel torn all the time. It’s hard to work late and work weekends to achieve those dreams. The reason I mention the struggle is because I want other makers out there to keep going despite how hard it is.
It’s worth it!
Although I’m not there yet, I know all of my efforts have been worth it.
Finding the Time to Execute
I’ve read a lot of books about time and one common thread is that time is an illusion. We have all the time we need and believing that we don’t is our own minds getting in our way. If we want to do something so badly that nothing can keep us from it, we will find the time. It’s when the work get hards that we find reasons to put it off and not accomplish things.
Being a maker may seem like a promenade through creative paradise, but there’s an unpleasant workload that goes along with it as you grow and that’s when you have to push through. I don’t like to track expenses, pay taxes, update websites, come up with market strategies, create engaging content, make videos, edit videos and all other necessary evils. I really just want to sit and burn wood, that’s why I started this venture. That’s the part that excites me and keeps me going, but if I want to continue to make this happen, the crappola has to be done too.
I get overwhelmed a lot.
When I think about getting more exposure and growing Pyrocrafters beyond just selling art, the amount of work to be done is astounding. It’s enough to make me want to stop trying sometimes…or just crawl in a hole and not come out. I just keeping making plans and tackling one task at a time.
This one task at a time business is much, much harder than it sounds. I get distracted with stuff that I want to do so much, that I lose focus on things that need to be done. Balancing out the things is something I try to do and give myself a good mix of want and need, but I look at my list of to do’s and just feel swallowed by them.
I have a tendency to want to finish everything all at one time and I have to constantly remind myself that building a creative business doesn’t all need to be done right this second.
Prioritization is key and planning is crucial and I somehow forget that….over and over again.
I have a calendar that I use to give myself a way to track tasks in a way that is realistic and possible for me to do. I do have a habit of trying to do too much and then feeling disappointed when I didn’t get it all done. I sometimes set myself up to fail and I’m really trying to change that.
The tasks you give yourself need to be realistic and attainable.
And TAKE BREAKS! It’s okay to not work everyday. Getting burned out isn’t helping anyone or yourself.
I use spare time like lunch breaks, weekends, staying up a couple hours later than usual a few nights a week. I fit in Pyrocrafters work where I can without neglecting my family or my job. And I try to stay on task.
When you’re trying to stay on task, decide what you are going to work on and only work on that thing. It’s easy to get distracted particularly if you’re working on the crappola, but push through.
Balancing Work, Responsibilities and the Business
No matter what I’m working on, there’s usually a little voice telling me I should be working on something else. I’m trying to drown that little sucker, but she just keeps coming back.
If I’m working on Pyrocrafters, I’m thinking about my husband and my daughter and how I don’t spend enough time with them. If I’m spending time with my family, I thinking about how I should be supporting them by working. I go round and round with this before telling myself to calm down and just focus.
I say again…if you’re going to chose to spend your time on something, just spend the time on that thing. Enjoy what you are spending your time doing instead of thinking about being in another place. It’s very hard. I still have trouble stoping my brain from self-sabotage. It just takes practice retraining your thoughts to ensure that you are mentally present. Start practicing Mindfulness techniques…they help.
My husband and daughter are number one on my list at all times.
So much so that it doesn’t need to be written down. It’s understood and always there. I make time for them first.
Let’s be clear, it doesn’t mean that I am at their every beck and call, it just means that I recognize making time for them goes without saying and when they need me I stop what I’m doing.
I make sure Clay and I have our morning coffee on the weekends and have date nights. We stay up late talking some nights. My daughter and I like to watch movies and shows together while we do our nails.
In turn, they recognize how important Pyrocrafters is to me and give me time and space to make it happen. We all balance the time spent together and on other things.
Normal Everyday Running a Household Stuff
Groceries. This might be one of the most loathsome tasks on the to do list. Clay and I share the grocery getting task, but either way it’s time spent doing something we hate. We’ve tried the Wal-mart pickup thing, which works to save time, but if you’re waiting forever because the line is long and then they forgot your some of your stuff, it takes just as long as going in the store.
We just do the best we can to balance out getting it done.
Getting it done goes for every task like cleaning house, paying bills, walking the dog, exercising and any other little thing that will inevitably occur and take your time.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and let the small things keep you from achieving your goals. You just have to push through it, especially when it’s hard.
I had the chance to hear Odin Clack from Odin’s Leather Goods speak at a conference recently. I was fortunate enough to speak with him later about how he built his business. We got on the subject of tackling tons of custom order requests coming in at one time and what his approach was and he said, “Everytime you say yes to something, you say no to something else.”
I’ll never forget that. What a simple but very wise statement.
I think about what he said everytime I’m faced with decisions on how to spend my time. Not just on custom orders, but everything. Every yes, means a no for something else.
Everytime you feel yourself getting swallowed with life’s tasks and keeping you from building your creative business, take a deep breath and ask yourself what has to get done right now? Is there an annoying task hanging over your head you can’t stop thinking about? Do that one, even if you don’t want to, it will make you feel better. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is also worth a read. It covers this topic in great detail.
Waiting for the Business Stars to Align
This may be the hardest part. Waiting. I keep dreaming about how amazing Pyrocrafters is going to be one day and waiting to get to it is tough. This impatience can be counterproductive. First, it keeps me from seeing how amazing it is right now. What we’ve accomplished already is pretty crazy. Second, I’m setting myself up to always be in wait mode. If I can’t see how amazing it is right now, I’ll always be focusing on what it will be later and then I’m going to miss the whole journey.
For anyone out there struggling to find the time building a creative business, enjoy the work you’re doing while you’re doing it. Focus on the here and now, and the future will catch up to you without you having to lift a finger.
Watching it Unfold
This is the most exciting part. When you’re finally able to stop and enjoy your work, it’s amazing to watch all the little pieces come together that pull you forward. I think back to two years ago when we started and all of the small steps that got us where we are now. Everything just clicked. Two years from now there will be a whole new set of small steps that put us where we will be. It’s so much fun to think about and I’m excited to watch it all happen.
Clay and I have a ton of new ideas everyday, so I can’t make any predictions about where we will be, but I’m going to be sharing along the way. I want our readers to see that even though things like free time seem to be illusive, there’s really plenty of it and we are living proof. If you want to build a creative business, you can. You’ll make the time if you love your creative outlet.