It’s December, a time to look back over the achievements and mistakes of the last twelve months, and vow to make it all different or better or less sucky next year. It’s a time to reflect on the things you did well, a chance to kick yourself for the things you stuffed up, and a time to wonder if it’s all worthwhile. If you’re in a blue mood, you might want to dip your toe into the pool of regret. Just how badly did you fail this year? And if things really sucked, is it time to give up on your creative business and go back to a ‘real’ job?
I have a seemingly contradictory attitude to quitting in business. I do think it’s vitally important to hang in there, and keep going through the hardships and occasional tortures of business. After all, as Winston Churchill reportedly said, “When you’re going through hell… keep going.”
But I also don’t prescribe to the ‘never ever give up’ attitude. I think giving up is actually a great idea, if you really don’t think you’re pursuing the right path. After all, if I’d never given up I’d be married to my dreadful high school boyfriend, I’d still live in my home town, and I’d be running a business I fell out of love with years ago.
You see, I have quit some pretty big things in my life, including my production company. Twoshotmedia ran successfully from 1994 to 2014. We made training films, corporate videos and commercials, and what’s now referred to as ‘branded content’. I started as a lone freelancer working out of my bedroom, and built the company up to large budgets, big clients and a team of people working for me. And just after our 20th birthday, I quit.
I quit for lots of reasons, many that I can’t go into here, but the main reason I quit was because I just wasn’t passionate about what I as doing any more. I didn’t really know why I was going to work, which is a huge problem when you’re the boss. I was much more excited about the idea of building my creative industries consultancy, and helping other creative people navigate the life cycle of their own businesses.
So, quitting is just fine as long as it’s strategic. If the idea of quitting is a relief, if you can’t find your way anymore or your heart is just not engaged, perhaps it’s time to let it go. Otherwise just think of the years and years of life wasted trying to keep at something that just isn’t working.
Seth Godin wrote a wonderful little book about the trials and traps of quitting and hanging in there in his book The Dip, which I really recommend. I re-read it every year, just to be sure that I’m still heading in the direction I want to be.
And as for failure, I think a day without failure is a day wasted. Failure is a marvellous teacher, and even better, it’s a part of the creative process. If it wasn’t, then we would get everything right first time and there would be no need for spellcheck, drafts, rehearsals or Photoshop. The question is not whether or not you’re going to fail, because it’s a definite and vital part of creative life – the question is what you’re going to do afterwards. Are you going to lie down and take it, or are you going to get back up and fight on for another day?
Looking forward to next year, make sure you prepare yourself for failure and shore up against all those risks that creative business bring. If you feel like quitting, think about how that would feel. If you want to re-evaluate your business, then check out this fantastic little evaluation tool from Moo.
Just remember to plan for success as well – success can sometimes be a much tricker navigation. What if this really works out for you – what then?
If you’d like some help navigating your creative business, then check out our advisory services here. We can definitely help you steer the course!
Have a wonderful holiday season, and a happy new year, from all of us at Creative Plus Business.