If you were to jump off a cliff and launch the creative venture of your dreams, what would it be? Would you make films? Exhibit and sell your art or photography? Write a book? Motivate, teach and educate from the stage?
How do I know? I’ve been there.
Two years ago I made the decision to close my successful creative management agency and pursue my passion for coaching creative professionals, full time. And it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made.
For months and months, I wrestled with doubt and fear. After all, the choice to follow my intuition flew in the face of all logic. Plum Creative was my primary source of income and I had dedicated 10 years to building a roster of top talent, as well as great relationships with high quality clients. Was I really about to let all of that go to pursue what I knew I was meant to do?
For months, I listened to the logical voice. I tried to maintain and grow both businesses (crazy town). I even tried to merge both businesses into one (not one of my better ideas). But I knew, deep down, if I was going to fulfill my potential and have the impact I knew I could in the world, I had to make the leap.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you’re teetering on the edge of sticking with what you know and jumping off the cliff (or perhaps you’ve been unceremoniously pushed off), I’d like to share some tips on how to take back your power and make the transition as smoothly as possible.
1) Embrace uncertainty
2) Test it out
When I made the decision to close Plum Creative and focus solely on my new coaching business, I had been running both businesses for 4 years. While my newer business was far from big enough to sustain me entirely, I’d proven it was a viable business, there was a need for what I had to offer and I could build it, if I had the time to devote myself fully to it. If you have an existing business or job, it’s great to build your dream business on the side, so you can maintain that security while you build. If you’ve found yourself out of a job, there’s no shame in taking a part time gig to bring in income while you build. There are no extra points for stressing about making your mortgage payment or putting food on the table.
3) Lean into your future
I recently learned this “Paint a Picture” exercise from executive coach, Cameron Herald. He recommends grabbing a pen and pencil (I know, you creatives love this one already!) and simply visualizing what your new business would look like in 3 years. Let’s use the example of the photographer. Who buys your art? Where do you exhibit? What are the press saying about your work? How much do your pieces sell for? Who else is involves in producing your art? Do you have a studio or staff? What does your studio look like? What is a typical day for you? Who works for you, and what does their day look like? And so on. Go to town on visualizing your dream, you can figure out “the how” later.
4) Do your homework
One of the most valuable exercises I did during my career change was research my new industry and figure out where I fit in. How did other coaches, speakers, writers and business consultants differentiate themselves? Who were their ideal clients? How did they package and present their services? How did they market themselves? What did they charge and how? What was their brand image and voice like? What did their website look like? Getting really clear on the landscape will (a) help you figure out where you fit in and (b) inspire you with lots of new ideas. I LOVE seeing others do what I do really, really well. It means it can be done and it inspires me to come up with new ideas and test them out. Don’t be afraid to model (not copy) what others are successfully doing. There are no prizes for re-inventing the wheel!
5) Tell your story in a new way
Transition can be a rocky time. It’s also the perfect time to challenge all the assumptions you have about yourself. Can you really be defined by the label you’ve worked under for the last however many years? Does your resume really do justice to the unique blend of expertise, experiences, influences, successes (and yes, failures) that make you, uniquely you? This is your story, so why not tell it the way you want people to hear it? It means being transparent, sharing your vision freely and inviting others to join you (I know, scary!), but your audience will respect you for putting yourself out there and engage with you on an entirely new level.
6) Hang out where your ideal clients are
Chances are, if you’re launching a new venture, or entering into a new industry, your ideal client profile will change too. Find out where your ideal clients hang out and go fish where the fish are. Show up regularly. Start building relationships. Reach out to organizations that serve your community and offer your services (which gives your greater exposure). Before long, you’ll have a dynamic network of prospects, collaborators, clients and referral partners to support you as you grow.
7) Get support
Venturing into unchartered territory isn’t for the faint hearted and the more support you have the better. You WILL have bumpy days/weeks/months, as well as the GREAT times when you start to really fly. A good accountability buddy, mastermind group, or coach will be there for all of it.
8) Get inspired by the AMAZING creators who found their calling (and success) later in life.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Louise Bourgeois reached her greatest artistic success in her seventies and eighties.
- Vincent Van Gogh had his first exhibition at age 32.
- Vera Wang was a figure skater and journalist before entering the fashion industry at age 40.
- Julia Child wrote her first cookbook when she was 50, launching her career as a celebrity chef.
- Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as Grandma Moses, began her painting career at 78.
If you’re ready to jump off the cliff, but would like some help building that plane, I’d love to help! Click here to schedule a free 30-minute “get acquainted” call with me and we’ll talk about challenges and solutions. Your new life and career are waiting!