Entrepreneurs with poor boundaries end up being owed money often. It's stressful for them, of course. Inevitably they post to Facebook or socials, and complain. And then they get comments that are basically scorched earth strategy. Scorched earth strategy like: take down the website you built them! Threaten them with a lawyer! Tell them you're keeping their deposit and selling the artpiece to someone else! Something like that. That's the first place people go. Level up the aggression. That'll do it!
Most the world doesn't understand entrepreneurs all that well, and most people really don't understand Creatives. That is to say: all of us have a Creative drive. But the class of people I call Creatives, are first and foremost innovative, driven, and deeply countercultural (even if they don't know this about themselves). So to take a little group of six to ten renegades (a word one of my students brought to class last night) and reign them into all the more rigorous standards of business-building - well, it's a challenge.
I know it doesn't sound that sexy to be consistent, predictable and honorable. But I think it pays off more than taking great photos. I think it pays off more than doing giveaways or collaborations.
I started my business officially in 2017 and initially I planned a family-friendly art side hustle. We raised our children and we lived our lives as radical unschoolers, which for many years meant one income for four people. When I got serious about business education in 2019, everything changed and I quickly developed into a REAL business. My family-friendly entrepreneurship evolved into a business friendly to chronic illness, which amongst other things means it is a very strong business.
Please remember that in considering an ethical artpreneurship you are doing something most people never attempt - and that many who do, fail. It's amazing, hard work, and you will often be misunderstood. - And it's worth it!
Many courses and mentors are unreflectively pro-capitalist. What do I mean by that? Well for instance I went to a certain national business organization’s webinar a while back and the first thing the presenter did was wax enthusiastic about drop-shipping methods via Amazon. Not one mention of Amazon’s problematic ethics and exploitation – just excitement about the profit we can make off the backs of abused workers! Sadly, that is the attitude and those are the willful omissions you’ll see an awful lot from many business mentors.
It's amazing I make any money, let alone good money, because I don't use ads nor engage in affiliateships or corporate sponsorship - and more than all that, because I don't take ethical shortcuts, and I don't niche.
[I]t’s been wonderful to start earning the kind of income that makes a big difference in my life, my family’s life, and the life of my community. I could have been earning a lot more sooner if I’d known the things I’m listing below – and, more importantly, I could have avoided some heartaches as well. And these principles are about small business, sure – but they’re also about the specifics of being a Creative. Creative entrepreneurs are small businesses like any other small business – but there are a few things that make us a bit special.
The last few years several niche Instagram accounts have popped up, gleefully roasting lowballers and how tacky they are. These accounts - I follow several - are a great way to blow off steam and I love them for that! But a lot of times the businesses following and commenting on these accounts need more than just snark. They need *help*.
Last year while I did my Friday IG Lives I noticed every time I talked about any challenge working with clients one-on-one, some viewer would chime in and say “That’s why I don’t do custom work!” It usually happened only once or twice per video – but it always happened.