I recently received an email from a well-respected business guru that left me fuming. This particular email contained advice that wasn’t just misguided; it was flat-out toxic and self-serving.
Why did this particular email boil my blood so much?
It employed high-pressure tactics to encourage individuals to invest in a program, even if they weren’t in a position to afford it.
The email started by acknowledging a common objection: that some potential customers couldn’t afford the program.
But instead of encouraging their audience to invest their hard-earned money in a way that felt responsible and appropriate for them, this “guru” attempted to persuade them that their financial limitations were due to an “employee mindset” and a lack of responsibility for their business’s success.
Basically, endangering people’s well-being to make a buck.
It created a false sense of urgency and placed the burden on the email recipient to shoulder the blame for their current financial situation (slathering on the guilt and judgment in the process).
Here’s what it said, verbatim, “ And if you’re unwilling to take that responsibility, unfortunately, I can’t really do my part to help you. So I hope you choose “Yes” because that’s what it’s gonna take!”
Essentially, this guy was implying that if they didn’t enroll, they would fail to be responsible for their business’s success.
These kinds of manipulative sales tactics can lead business owners to make impulsive and potentially harmful financial decisions.
This email reminded me that there is so much bad business advice floating around in the online business space, both well-intended and not; advice that can be detrimental to creative entrepreneurs like you! (I’m talking to the designers, artists, makers, and writers out there!)
In this blog post, we’ll explore some more of these common pieces of business advice, debunking 7 myths and shedding light on the real, nuanced truths that creative entrepreneurs like you should keep in mind while you build, grow, and scale your creative business dreams.
This well-intentioned advice suggests that following your passions should be all sunshine and rainbows.
And sure, while pursuing your passions is commendable, it’s essential to acknowledge that entrepreneurship, creative or otherwise, isn’t some whimsical fairy tale.
Challenges and necessary tasks you may not enjoy (hello, quarterly taxes, file management, and bookkeeping) will always be part of the job description.
Painting a picture of constant ease and joy can mislead aspiring creatives into thinking that any struggle is a sign of failure.
The reality is that every business has its ups and downs, and embracing both is part of the journey. For me, navigating the mundane parts of business is the price of admission for pursuing a career I love.
While it’s important to stretch yourself, step out of your comfort zone, and occasionally accept opportunities outside your usual scope– I totally get it if you choose to accept less-than-thrilling opportunities for valid reasons like finances or potential benefits– but saying yes to every opportunity can lead to burnout and misalignment.
Your time, talent, energy, boundaries, and standards deserve respect.
Learning to say “no” when necessary saves your capacity and resources for the right opportunities, allowing you to focus on creating space for the projects you WANT to work on rather than waiting passively for whatever happens to come your way. No guilt required.
Toxic hustle culture (the close cousin of toxic positivity) perpetuates the idea that you must always be working tirelessly to succeed in business, entrepreneurship, and, to be frank, life!
While there are definitely seasons in business when nose to the grindstone, hard work is necessary, constant hustling is unsustainable (and unhealthy).
I remind my clients and myself of this truth often:
Rest is productive too!
In fact, it’s essential to recognize that you don’t have to earn rest. Embrace the ebbs and flows of your business, and remember that rest and the ability to slow down, reflect, and evaluate are critical parts of the health and sustainability of your business– not to mention your own well-being.
You may be familiar with this expression. It’s rooted in sales training principles that have been around and parroted for decades. The concept of always closing the sale or the deal (sometimes phrased as “always be selling”) isn’t just oozing hustle culture vibes— it can also be off-putting to your potential customers.
Instead of obsessing over selling, prioritize building relationships and adding value to people’s lives.
When you genuinely engage and serve your audience, sales will naturally follow. While selling is a critical aspect of business, making it your sole focus can backfire, doing more harm than good!
COO Tip: If you find yourself out of your depths when it comes to sales, maybe it’s time to try a different approach. I wholeheartedly believe that focusing on client experience instead of the latest sales fad can make selling feel easier and more authentic. Click here to read more about how your client experience can take the pressure off sales in your creative business.
While it’s wonderful to follow your passion, it’s not a guarantee of financial success. It doesn’t mean it isn’t possible–in so many cases it actually is! But, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants, hoping everything will just fall into place.
You’ll need to ask yourself tough questions like:
There are a whole lot of pieces that have to add up!
Pricing your products or services correctly, understanding your financial situation, and having a well-thought-out plan are crucial for achieving financial sustainability.
Honestly, not having these basics in place is why so many creative businesses crash and burn. They aren’t building their business on a strong foundation. It’s also why people tend to side-eye the idea of pursuing a creative career.
That’s exactly why I’m here doing what I do—to help creatives like you thrive as business owners while doing what you love. Because let’s be real, they didn’t teach us this stuff in art school!
Not everything needs to be turned into a business. Period.
But, lots of entrepreneurs fall victim to the mindset that they need to capitalize on every creative skill or interest as a business owner. It’s shiny object syndrome in disguise! I’d rather see you focus and build strategically than spiral yourself into a state of overwhelm chasing the next shiny thing!
Monetizing every hobby, passion project, or interest you have can quickly and easily spread you too thin– especially if you’re a multi-talented creative. Worse yet, you may end up resenting a passion because you put too much pressure on it to generate income.
Instead, focus on doing a few things exceptionally well and monetize those strategically. Starting simple and expanding gradually is often a more sustainable approach.
And even then, I highly recommend you keep some of your creative endeavors to yourself. They serve as an excellent way to fill up your creative cup so you can continue to tap into inspiration.
The idea of taking a leap of faith or “burning the boats” may work for some, but it’s not right for everyone or every season of business.
Some people prefer to “build the plane as they’re flying” while others thrive with a solid plan and a safety net.
It’s okay to take baby steps, prepare, and double-check before making any big moves. But beware if your perfectionist tendencies start to bubble to the surface! Sometimes it can be tempting to wait for the “perfect” moment (that never comes) to get started and drag your feet instead of just going for it! (I speak from experience).
Different people and circumstances require different approaches, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Personally, I’ve found that the sweet spot between planning and embracing the ‘done is better than perfect’ mindset gives me the peace of mind to take action confidently!
At the end of the day, it all comes down to learning how to trust yourself, your intuition, and your work ethic as an entrepreneur.
In the world of creative entrepreneurship, not all business wisdom is created equal. Some widely accepted advice is outdated or harmful, while other pieces are sound but require context.
Ultimately, the path to success depends on your unique circumstances, goals, and intuition.
Trust yourself, seek support from those who understand your journey, and remember that business is never just black and white. Embrace the nuances, and don’t be afraid to challenge cliche words of wisdom when they don’t align with your reality.
If you’re ready to dive deeper into the world of creative entrepreneurship and learn the tried-and-trusted strategies that truly work, join my upcoming online business course for creative entrepreneurs. Say goodbye to toxic advice and hello to a program that’s specifically dedicated to your success. Let’s navigate this creative journey together. Click here to hop on the waitlist.