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Knowing what to prioritize isn’t always easy. Much of the time, it requires rigorous forethought and planning. But that’s no excuse not to do the work.

In any business, the big question is not whether you can design a beautiful logo, create eye-catching business cards, or set up a stellar website. The question is whether you can get to your first dollar. You can do this without creating a damn thing these days, because you can take pre-orders to test the demand for a product, you’re thinking about making.

If you want to get a visual on an entrepreneurial endeavor that’s not moving because of busywork and obsessing over details, go and watch season 4, episode 20 of How I Met Your Mother, titled Mosbius Designs.

I understand that this is a “business” example, but I would argue it’s totally applicable to artists. Now, I understand that music is a passion. And you want to create something you love. The point is – if you want to build a profitable career, you want to make sure there are other people out there whose hearts also beat over the same thing!

This will largely determine whether the next 10 years of your career will be spent playing every dive bar you can find, growing your audience one member at a time…

Or…

Coming out of the gate with strong wave of momentum that will quickly carry you onto the shores of the next phase of your music career.

I remember coaching a business owner who wanted to build a locally sourced, eco-friendly, humanitarian, customer-pleasing, employee-conscious business. I’m not exaggerating, I’m summarizing.

You can’t help but admire the heart of someone who wants to do that much good in the world. Someone who even questions whether they should be using the internet because of the strain it puts on the power grid and what that means for the planet.

But in the context of entrepreneurship, this was, for a lack of a more eloquent term, utterly and completely stupid.

What we encouraged her to do was look at how she could sell her first product. Get to her first dollar. Validate a market. If she could sell her product and build a profitable business, in due course, she’d be able to do more in the world.

As a giving, agreeable, listening person, I’ve often had to remind myself that you can’t contribute out of scarcity. You can only contribute out of overflow. My recent charitable efforts were intentional and deliberate, and they were created through initiatives that didn’t cost me.

You can’t contribute out of scarcity. You can only contribute out of overflow. Click To Tweet

But no, she insisted on doing things her way. Not only did she not make an income from her business – the people she’d partnered with, hired, or contracted to work with never stuck around for more than a few weeks.

When you have a new idea about what you’re out to accomplish every other week, it signals a red flag to everyone around you who might have bought into your initial burst of passion and enthusiasm.

I know from having talked to a friend of mine that the stars don’t always align out the gate. One of his band projects was initially thinking about becoming a cover band. But it never worked. It wasn’t until they decided to work on originals that things finally clicked for them. Had they simply jumped from idea to idea without thinking, though, they would have missed out on creating their life work.

As for my coaching client, the story doesn’t end there. I helped her set up her website, and she had the audacity to accuse me of having insufficient systems in my business while I was on vacation recovering from burnout. I was halfway across the world without a computer offering customer support from my smartphone. I should have charged a hefty sum for that. It was a low moment for me, but I had to acknowledge that everything wasn’t hunky dory on my end either.

What we learned from that experience was to never put client websites on our servers. Let them buy their own hosting, so if they run into any problems, they can contact customer support and give them a tongue lashing on their own time.

And that’s a whole other lesson – learning from your mistakes!

But to conclude, let’s put this in terms any artist can understand. Before you go out and spend $40,000 on your indie dubstep breakbeat banjo jungle reggae funk, make sure someone gives a crap.

There is absolutely no virtue or value in creating a micro-niche there’s no demand for! I’m calling B.S. on this strategy. I’d much rather see you enter a generic market like “rock” and differentiate using your marketing and branding than spend countless hours and thousands of dollars testing your violin Celtic metal punk junk country fusion just for the hell of it.

There is absolutely no virtue or value in creating a micro-niche there’s no demand for! Click To Tweet
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