“I’m bored of it because I’ve been doing it for so long now – when think about having to work on another client’s skin, I get anxious” she said.
Many creatives and creators dream of one day being able to pursue their passion full-time, asking themselves what that might look like.
And this is answered by comments like the above. At some point, passion becomes work. Ironically, we got into our chosen field because we thought if we just did something we loved, we’d never work another day in our life.
The Height of the Glass Ceiling
As I thought about what she said, I turned to her and offered:
“If Dan Kennedy were here coaching us right now, this is what he would say.
I am not in the business of music entrepreneurship.
You are not in the business of skincare.
Both of you are in the business of marketing.”
This completely shifted the context for her. Suddenly, she had a realization.
All those years spent growing a six-figure skincare business, she was focused on getting more clients – not on becoming a skilled marketer. But getting more clients wasn’t the answer. It just led to burnout. And she’d burned out enough times to know it was costly to her business. Everything she built crumbled like a sandcastle because of cancellations, healthcare, and vacations.
She understood that, as a marketer, she was still green. She could see that her upside potential was not capped by her ability to get clients. The height of the glass ceiling had always been determined by her skills as a marketer.
The Entrepreneur Myth
The E Myth (affiliate link), properly understood as the Entrepreneur Myth, is exactly this.
Many times, as creatives and creators, we get into our chosen fields because a) we love what we do, and b) we’re good at what we do.
We make so many decisions that go counter to conventional wisdom. We become our own boss. We take on the lion’s share of the risk. And we make major sacrifices for our work – evading social events, putting off raising a family, and sometimes even risking our health.
Yet, when it comes to choosing our profession, we follow the conventional model of evaluating what we like and what we’re good at.
This leads us into a situation like the one described in Michael E. Gerber’s book. We start a bakery because we like it and we’re good at it. But the business keeps growing, and our workload keeps increasing. Suddenly, eight-hour workdays turn into 12, 14, and even 16-hour workdays. And the business becomes a constant source of stress. We find ourselves handling administrative tasks, bookkeeping, marketing, and more. But we can’t do all of it well, even on our best day.
The Missing Question
There is a missing question often not asked by career counselors let alone entrepreneurs.
That question is this:
What results do you want out of life?
This question leads us down a different path. Because it has us looking at what we want out of life, instead of putting off living in favor of building our businesses. It has us considering how we’d like to live (lifestyle), how we’d like to spend our time, and who we’d like to be around more.
No surprise that we should have breakdowns in our projects when we haven’t given thought to any of these things in years, and let’s face it – sometimes decades.
But when you think carefully about why you do what you do, you’ll realize it was because of the life you thought you could create through your projects. Instead, you end up living the differed life plan. When there’s enough money, you’ll finally take that vacation. When you make seven-figures, you’ll finally be happy. When you have your business under control, you’ll finally start that family you’ve always wanted. And so on.
When none of these created meanings tend to ring true. It’s all arrival fallacy. Entrepreneurs reach these milestones all the time, and scarcely even recognize or acknowledge themselves for their accomplishments.
A Secret Formula?
Recognizing that you’re in the business of marketing (instead of the business of whatever you sell) is not some secret or magical formula that leads you back to creating the life you once thought you could have. But it does put your ladder against a better building. And it stops you from climbing the ladder that’s against the wrong one.
If you can market one thing, you can market another. Many entrepreneurs focus on more product, more leads, more customers. Without recognizing that they haven’t leveraged their products to the maximum extent possible, or that their current customers are the most profitable source of business.
I have five books. But the one that outsells the rest and has had the greatest longevity is The New Music Industry, my first best-selling book. It stands the test of time. And I have not even come close to milking it for all its worth.
This context becomes more apparent when you change your paradigm from being a visual artist, or accountant, or hairstylist, to seeing yourself as a marketer.
You can also maximize results. You can orchestrate a virtual world tour with your existing products. There may be a market you haven’t even tapped into yet. You can create spin-off products. If your customers have already voted for a specific product with their money, what’s the chance you could turn a book into a course, coaching program, mastermind, and so forth? You can accomplish more with less. Although some of us thrive on tackling many projects at once (here, here), you could 80/20 your products and add additional support for them, thereby achieving more in significantly less time and effort.
More isn’t more. Less is more.
Your “Why” & Marketing
The only way to become a better marketer is to study and work on it. As a creative or creator, you’ve already made the difficult decision of investing in your own success. Which means you should be willing to fail, too.
Not all marketing spend will pay off. And in this instance, I use the term “marketing spend” broadly, as in any time and money you allocate to your projects.
You must become a student of what works and what doesn’t. And then double down on what works. Stop doing what doesn’t work.
If this all sounds like selling out or too much business talk, then go back to your “why” – the reason you do what you do. Didn’t you get into your chosen profession because you enjoyed it? And don’t you want to enjoy it again? And didn’t you get into it because you thought you might be able to create the life you loved doing it? And don’t you feel like you might be a long way off from reaching that vision?
What they don’t tell you is this – marketing is fun. It’s rewarding. It’s as if a game. And the results you want for yourself are available if you shift your paradigm from being an artist to being a marketer.Marketing is fun. It’s rewarding. It’s as if a game. Click To Tweet
You may not have got into your field thinking you’d need to become a marketer too. But your creativity will serve you well. And if you understand the critical connection between your projects and marketing, you’ll see them as one – not as two disconnected entities.
“When I think of myself as a marketer, I see more possibilities. And I can see that I need to improve.”
She came to that conclusion on her own. I didn’t have to tell her.
Remember – at some point, your favorite activities will at some point turn into work. And when it does, you have a choice. You can continue to load up your schedule will to-do items you don’t enjoy doing and burn yourself out. Or you can shift your paradigm. And see that you can accomplish more with less. Hard work may be par for the course, but most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, know that four to six hours of intensely focused work is about all we can hope to accomplish in a day.
How do you think about marketing? What would it mean to you and your efforts if you could shift your paradigm?
Let me know in the comments.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.
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