Since I launched the #BizDesigners course, I’ve received a lot of email with questions from creative entrepreneurs. Over half of the emails say something very similar to this:
Thank you so much for launching your course. The content has been very helpful. I have a specific question, however. I’ve done everything you say and I’m following my passions, but something’s not working. I’m not making any money. I’m still stuck. Do you have any suggestions or ideas on how to move forward?
I feel like the tone of this email is becoming more prevalent in my inbox. More and more, well-meaning entrepreneurs reach out to me. They’ve started their business, and they’re trying SO hard, but things just aren’t falling into place.
It’s a problem I see when I go to retreats and workshops to speak. Exhausted business owners coming up to me, telling me they’re doing all the right things and then asking me if I know when they’ll make money, or if they’ll ever be able to take a paycheck.
And to all those sweet, well-meaning creative entrepreneurs out there, this is what I want to reply:
Dear Sweet Suzy,
First of all, congratulations! Starting your own business is a huge leap and you’re on an amazing journey! I’m so glad you’ve joined the ranks of entrepreneurship and you have so much to be proud of!
Secondly, I’d tell you that the biggest mistake I see happening here is in the phrase, “I’m following my passions.” Here’s why.
Let’s start with an example. What if a first grader asked his teacher to let him go to the calculus class? Would it be wise for the teacher to let him attend that class, just because he’s fascinated with addition?
Of course not. The teacher knows that he’s not prepared yet. He doesn’t have the skills. And without the skills, he’ll end up frustrated and overwhelmed. The teacher knows that he needs to spend years learning the intricacies of mathematics before he’s ready for that calculus class. In that sense, the calculus class becomes a earned privilege.
The opportunity to follow your passions is also an earned privilege. It’s not a right, or an entitlement. And like all privileges, it must be stewarded, and managed and cared for responsibly.
Here’s the good news. The gift of entrepreneurship is that it is an excellent teacher.
Entrepreneurship will teach you what you need to know, in order to be able to follow your passions, as long as you’re willing to be a student. You might need a website, or a logo, or a blog, or a marketing strategy, and entrepreneurship will give you those answers, if you’re willing to do the work.
But the moment you are no longer willing to do the work or ask the questions or sacrifice the time and energy and money to learn, entrepreneurship knows you are no longer a student, and it has a funny way of closing the school doors.
And I promise you, one day, you’ll wake up passionately in love with the life you have designed and you’ll realize that the work you were doing was actually chasing your passions all along.
Godspeed, and I’ll see you on the road, Entrepreneur.
Lots of love,