· By Kelly Hogaboom
five takeaways from 2022
My 2022 has been pretty fantastic!
I went back to college (!), I graduated my Yoga Teacher Training (a dream I've had for over ten years), I was featured on the red carpet - and I taught another two cohorts of my business course. My oldest kiddo went off to University and my youngest kiddo is thriving in their college music program.
We four have lived Covid-free, and stayed in good health.
I'll be sharing a Greatest Hits of 2022 soon enough - just like I did last year - but for this post, I actually want to round up a few useful things I learned (or re-learned) about being a Creative entrepreneur.
Not all of these takeaways will apply to you - but most of them probably will.
My aim here - as ever! - is to share my expertise - for my own business, but also in observing and working with many other ethical Creatives - in the hopes you take my experience to heart.
So here we go!
1. Don't do it for clout or fame - and don't sacrifice your ethics to make a dollar.
I don't know how to say it any clearer than that. There are loads of people willing to cut corners, underpay employees, buy supplies from shady sources, steal from other artists, all that stuff.
If you're willing to do those things I don't know how you're still following my writings.
No one is perfect! And none of us - in such a corrupt socio-eco-policial system - can pretend we are pure.
If you want to do better, and if you're NOT willing to do shady shit, if you want to stick to your principles - well, I am here to give you encouragement!
I know there are many times you wonder if your principles are silly - because yeah, they make things harder! Maybe you get discouraged now and then like "no one else" cares about this stuff.
But other people DO care.
Focus on, and make community with, those people. And remember - your ethics may cost you the wrong business, but they will get you the right opportunities.
2. Use project management tools.
You don't have to get too fancy with this. Whatever tools you use, make sure they suit your temperament and scale.
For instance, my partner uses several project management programs to guide his two-year plan in his professional life. That's because he has a team he leads, and he works with several departments in a very large agency. His organization is super impressive!
You probably don't need that level of complexity, at least to get started.
I have friends who've invested loads of money and time into really powerful software solutions - only to fizzle out within a month or two, because they simply overinvested (in time or funds), and they would have been better off with something simpler.
Project management is a skill, and we can all stand to gently improve. You could do something as simple as purchase a $1 notebook, divide your first page in three sections, and put Today / This Week / This Month as headings. Then - USE the notebook! Check it each day, transfering any unfinished This Month goals to the next page, when the week is up.
There are SO many simple (or complex) tools out there - many of them low- or no-cost. I use Google Task in my Calendar, because my Calendar is hugely important to me and it's really convenient to use Tasks. I've been able to focus and relax so much better since I started! And it helps me make my deadlines.
3. Be patient and consistent, especially with your marketing.
Most marketing experts agree it takes at least two years to really get a reputation and a steady stream of clients. This is why launching a new product and expecting loads of sales immediately and a steady stream thereafter, isn't reasonable.
Of course, there are always times we luck out. There are also times we were pre-marketing and didn't realize it (this happened to me, in the case of custom clothing).
But you can't just assume that kind of luck will follow you everywhere!
In general, you need to do pre-launch work, you need to talk about your products and services, you need to repeat yourself (this part sucks for most Creatives, who want to keep moving forward!) - and you need to be prepared for slow sales at first. If you need income faster than reasonable sales targets - well you might want to consider a J-O-B to keep the lights on while you wait to grow that business. (Eek!)
I have told students to their face to keep up steady, sustainable effort - and not start and stop, or promise work they don't deliver.
Then they go off - and start starting-and-stopping, or overpromising and underdelivering. Then they panic when they don't have huge sales right away, or when interest in their work wanes.
I want to be very clear: there is nothing morally wrong with starting and stopping.
It's just going to take you longer to grow a stable business, if you do.
Many, many people try something for just a week or a month or two - then, discouraged at low sales, scanty Likes, low attendance - they either quickly retool their offers or products - or quit entirely.
Again: there's nothing morally wrong with this behavior. But unfortunately, I notice it tends to leave people discouraged, dispirited, and unfocussed.
4. Niche - if you can.
Well, I can't niche. So I don't. I think this means I have to work three times as hard as someone who DOES niche. I'm willing to live this way - but not everyone else is!
Niching is very smart. But - if you just can't bring yourself to focus, then hey - I'm your patron saint.
Some of you are probably wondering, "What is niching?" Well that answer depends so much on YOU and what you long to do. I can't give any particularly useful niching advice in a general way, but if you take my course (or apply for a mentorship), you'll get plenty of help to sort you out.
Otherwise - there are tons of no-cost and low-cost resources, books, articles, YouTube channels, etc etc, on finding your niche.
And my number one takeaway:
5. Trust yourself.
This is damned important.
I've made some very risky decisions - or decisions that felt risky, anyway. I've made decisions other people told me wouldn't work, or were impractical.
All of these scary decisions, have been my best decisions. Getting married. Getting sober. Having children. Birthing at home. Raising our children through unschooling. Committing to veganism. Coming out as nonbinary. Building my entrepreneurship around ethics and joy - not around getting the fastest paycheck.
These commitments often felt like walking on a tightrope without a trapeze!
But looking back I can see there were always supporters (sometimes just one or two!) - and I notice I always did my research. I am not a risky person, even though I often find myself on the fringes of mainstrream society.
This means - I can trust myself.
I really can!
And it is these decisions - scary as they were, unpopular as they were! - that have brought the most joy and strength I have.
You can do it.
Yes, it's scary.
But no one will do it FOR you.