Over the years, I have started and re-started my business a good few times. I no longer refer to this as starting many businesses, as I am beginning to understand it was always one business: I was always selling what I do best: creativity.
Right now, there are so many messages about being self-employed or freelance. There is an increasing trend towards uniformizing independent operators that I find disturbing. It masquerades under the banner of Branding Yourself, but essentially it almost always boils down to some template or other that does nothing other than homogenise you and what you are selling… which is a crying shame because what this world needs right now are MORE differences, not less.
Less differences are leading to polarisation as people increasingly learn to think that everything belongs in an easily definable box. On the other hand, technology and the pace of change in our world is charging off in the opposite direction. Intellectually our race is accelerating towards the singularity. Emotionally we seem to be regressing.
Which is why the lesson I have learned from my cycles of business is so important: just be who you are. You can’t escape it anyway, and who you are will crawl through any cracks in whatever plaster you try and cover it up with as you try to appeal to a bigger market, a better client or better fees.
Because in the end, what people buy is stuff that stands out. Of course, the trick is to understand what it is that makes you stand out and to find ways to make it stand out. But first you need to be really clear about what it is that you are doing and where it is coming from.
I can’t avoid who I am. I am creative. That means that I am always thinking about innovating, updating, changing, improving, paring away, stripping down, reassembling, rearranging, melding, adapting and seeking. It’s not a popular trait in most corporations and businesses, which is the primary reason why I have always been self-employed. It has become an essential one in modern business and that one many business people now desperately need to learn.
And yet, for years, I have been trying to talk about this stuff in so many different ways instead of just being honest about it.
At the bottom of it, I honestly believe that everyone is creative and that, by getting in touch with their creativity, they can free themselves from many of the challenges that they face. And I want to help people to do that. I believe that a world focused on creating new things is a world less inclined to self-destruction than one dedicated to preserving tradition and old ways.
This is how my two halves, the rebel and the artist, come together in my work now: I want to help, but I want to help because I want to change the world… I don’t like the way it works now, but in order for it to change, all of us who live in it need to start acting in slightly different ways at first… and over time extend this.
Thinking of your own solutions to things instead of following the herd is one of the first steps on this journey.
I’d like it if you come along with me on these new legs of the journey. I for one am very keen to see what happens next.