Successful soloism is about 80% mindset and 20% mechanics. I’ve learned from experience that you can get the mechanics right, but still not be thinking right. Much of what holds us back as creatives and independent business owners is our limiting beliefs.
Over the years I made a lot of decisions that ended up holding me back simply because I was buying into common beliefs that aren’t accurate. I was holding onto negative feedback and overlooking encouraging input. It took me awhile to discover that those beliefs were wrong and if I was going to become successful I needed to change what I thought was true.
We need to develop confidence in our abilities both as business owners and as creatives. We each have what it takes to be creative, run a business and profit from our work. We need to be certain that, as creatives, it’s in our very nature to rise to challenges and overcome obstacles. Our ability to solve problems and innovate transfers to running our businesses.
So many of us put up boundaries for ourselves by believing things that are not accurate. Let’s compare the following limiting lies and freeing truths:
Being the best
LIE: I have to be the best in my niche.
TRUTH: You must believe that you are skilled in your area of service and can translate that skill to help others.
I do not need to be the best at what I do in order to be profitable in my business. Being the best at anything is a matter of degree, in the first place.
Yes, we should be always working to improve our craft and run our businesses better. There is always room for leveling up from where we are.
Find clients you enjoy working with and for whom you get to create meaningful work. You can easily serve your clients with the skills and knowledge your currently have. Their successes will help build yours. My clients have chosen to work with me because they believe I can solve their branding and design problems, although I’m not the best designer and illustrator alive today.
But because I know enough, my clients and I work well together and get along comfortably. They are succeeding in part because of the branding and design work I’ve done for them.
Position yourself as the right option for the clients you serve.
Can you get results for people by doing what you do in the way you do it? I’m sure you can. You are unique in your approach to your creative work. Your approach is what makes you successful, not being the best in your niche.
Position yourself as the right option for the clients you serve. You have something no one else has that your clients need. Trust in your uniqueness and you won’t have to compete to be the best at what you do. You’ll just need to do your best work in your best way.
Knowing it all
LIE: I have to know it all before I can serve clients.
TRUTH: Creative work is founded on discovery, solving problems and thinking differently.
Start with what you already know, and add to it as you go. There is always something you don’t yet know how to do.Through the creative process, you will figure it out. You just have to know enough to be able to begin the project.
I can’t tell you how many projects have I taken on knowing that I didn’t know how to do something, but certain I would be able to find out how. So I did the work of learning (not charging the client for it, by the way) and developed solutions my clients could run with.
You just have to know enough to be able to begin the project.
Educate yourself in what you don’t know. We live in an amazing time. Information, how-tos and advice is everywhere. All you need to do is ask some questions and do some research. You’ll find what you need to know.
Own what you know. Every design project should add to your skill set and expertise. You’re increasing with each new assignment. With a number of successful projects under your belt you have the basis of a proven track record which will be attractive to new clients.
LIE: You have to balance work and personal life.
TRUTH: We will always make time for what matters most to us.
The power of managing time, projects and life is in being able to choose your priorities. Life consists of seasons and times. There is no separation between parts. Your life is a gestalt. Instead of juggling work and personal time as two separate things, think of it as one fluid whole in which you focus on different activities and responsibilities as needed. When I’m on a deadline, that’s my focus. When I’ve got the work done, I focus on other things.
Get clear on priorities and then guard them and your time with your life. Be willing to let go of or put some things on hold for a season while you focus on accomplishing a goal. Where there are non-negotiable, such as spouse and children, make those your uncompromising priority no matter how busy your work gets.
You cannot pay attention to more than one thing at a time. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. You get to choose what you focus on, and when. You decide. You’re in control.
LIE: Failures, mistakes and obstacles prove that your business is not going to work or you’re not creative enough.
TRUTH: Failures train you. Mistakes are learning opportunities.
Failures and mistakes are how you learn what works and what doesn’t. Take the opportunity to learn from every client and project. You’re not going to not make mistakes. It’s what you do when you make one that makes the difference.
If things aren’t working, adjust and tweak. Fix what needs to be fixed. Change your business model. Rethink your approach. Revise your policies. Get a fresh perspective.
Never let go of positive feedback and encouragement from the right people. When you fail, or someone tells you you’re a failure, remember the truth that people have spoken into your life. Encourage yourself, pick yourself up and keep moving.
LIE: You have to accept every opportunity or you can’t make a living.
TRUTH: Be choosy. Say no more often than you say yes.
Give yourself permission to not do something. Be okay with declining offers. Get used to saying no. Not all opps are as important as you think.
Saying no to some opportunities frees you up to say yes to better projects working with your best kinds of clients.
You need to be clear about your business model and service offerings so that you accept the right opportunities. Say no to anything that doesn’t align with your vision and goals. The wrong opportunities will take you down side roads.
Profitability comes from saying yes to the right things, not to everything that comes along.
Do not say yes to a questionable project or client simply because you need the money. Profitability comes from saying yes to the right things, not to everything that comes along. Say no to any project or client that makes you uncomfortable.
Be future-revenue focused. If exposure is going to result in revenue, then expose yourself. If not, don’t .
The stuff in our head is what we allow there, and it’s not always based in reality. This is one reason why creative communities, mastermind groups and courses like Freelance Road Trip are so helpful. We need to hear different opinions, experiences and ideas to help us let go of limiting beliefs.
What limiting beliefs did you hold onto? What truths did you replace them with? What was the result?