Typically, when we hear the phrase, “starving artist” we think of an artist in the traditional sense — visual artists, poets, writers, right? But, when I talk about the starving artist mentality I am referring to it in a broader sense as it applies to entrepreneurs of all disciplines.
How many times have you:
- Charged less than your product or service was actually worth because you were too scared to charge more?
- Held on to a client or customer longer than you should have because you were afraid that you wouldn’t make it without them — you thought you needed their money?
- Allowed a client or customer to break basic business etiquette (i.e. you kept working even though they were extremely late paying their invoice, dealt with their last minute, repeat meeting/call cancellations)?
- Asked someone to join you as a business partner because you didn’t believe you could successfully build out your vision on your own?
- Avoided opportunities that would put you in the room with major players because you just didn’t believe you were ready?
See, at some point in time we’ve all been there.
Unfortunately, the “starving artist” mentality is a by-product of the feast and famine cycle that so many entrepreneurs experience. We have a lull in clients so we rush to undercut ourselves in order to quickly get new peeps in the door. We get nervous because our business isn’t growing as fast as we think it should so we slap up a quick promo to “attract” new peeps….
The very first thing we have to do to stop being a starving artist in 2016 is to stand up for ourselves.
We have to choose to honor ourselves and our work.
No matter what…
The second thing we need to do is to make decisions based on the long game. Not based on what’s convenient or easy. See, people aren’t going to respect your work just because you’re the cheapest. They’ll drop you in a heart beat and go racing right to the next person who shows up with prices lower than yours. When you’re playing the long game you’re making decisions today that’ll give your business max return in the future.
The third thing we need to do to avoid the starving artist mentality is to routinely study our crafts. See, I find that when we’re lacking in confidence about our skills or talents we cave more easily. We don’t trust our ability to deliver the very best so we low ball. No matter what industry you’re in — set a regular appointment with yourself to brush up on your industry developments or a skill. The more you continue to invest in yourself (in time not just money) you’ll be more confident about asking your customers or clients to invest in what you deliver.
The fourth thing we need to do is to stop following the Joneses. I promise in almost every industry there is a rapid race to the bottom and it’s monkey see monkey do. Everyone wants to be the cheapest. Everyone’s using the same marketing tactics.
Everyone’s using the same font (as one of my fave women in entrepreneurship Tara Gentile would say).
I’ll admit, it’s downright perplexing for me. No one, I mean no one, can build a sustainable business model by racing to the bottom and following everyone else. When we keep our eyes on the Joneses we start to question our natural born, instincts, talents and abilities.
The fifth thing we need to do to avoid the starving artist mentality is to remember our why. We’re givers. We’re creatives. We want to impact people with our work. But, if we constantly undervalue what we offer then we limit our capacity to give. We put ourselves in situations where we have to serve so many people just to make a living and that eventually leads to burn out.
One of my dreams is for Creative Genius Law to be a huge financial supporter of creative and innovative projects that truly move me. So far, I donate to a crowdfunding campaign for creative ventures just about every other month. But, I want to do this on a larger scale. I will never be able to make the type of impact and contributions I want by operating in starving artist mode.
The sixth thing we need to do is to handle our business. A lot of times the starving artist mentality rises up because we simply haven’t taken care of business. We’re operating with no legit businesses, verbal agreements and no written contracts, we don’t own the names we’re using for our businesses, we haven’t gotten our professional insurance together, we’re mixing business and personal funds together…
The list goes on.
I can’t tell you how much of a number it does on us mentally when we don’t prioritize the business. We don’t feel justified in negotiating or charging what we should because in the background we know we haven’t done our part.
We deserve so much better.
Don’t we? The one thing I’d like to challenge you to do this year is to stand up for yourselves more and leave the starving artist in the past. I challenge you to rise up and respect the amazing thing you’re building.