by Nathan Lee
The entrepreneurial spirit surges in Oklahoma! And that mindset is nothing new in our society, but lately it seems to have boomed in the creative professional fields i.e. artist/musician. In the past “creatives” assumed they would have to have a day job to pay the bills and support their artistic profession. It’s kind of an oxymoron to use the phrase “Day job to support your profession,” after all, a profession is supposed to support a person not the other way around. Well, it would seem in these times creative entrepreneurs are beginning to take a different mind set. They are taking their own dreams seriously. They are beginning to work on the less creative part of their careers as self-employed individuals by focusing on the practical parts of running a business. That practical part makes it possible for the creative side to have breathing room…sometimes.
But let’s be frank, the creative professional/entrepreneur is faced with several pitfalls. Some revolve around peer pressure, which can be shrugged off. Some revolve around family pressure. It is here in this area that the creative pro sometimes loses his or her way in life. It is here that they wake up and find themselves still working at CVS Pharmacy. Before you roll your eyes, I just want to say: yes, there is something wrong with working at CVS if that is not what you wanted to do and you’ve been working very hard at trying to get out of that job. The death of the creative pro sometimes comes at the hands of their very practical responsibilities: family, bills, healthcare, and so on.
Everyone has dreams and aspirations, but the demands of life can be lethal to a creative entrepreneur. Family is something that a dedicated person cannot walk away from, yet those are the same people who might not understand the late nights or the weekends that their entrepreneurial-minded spouses or parents have to work. More often it becomes a count of all the times their loved one was emotionally or physically unavailable. It is difficult for those of us who have 9 to 5 jobs to understand the gravity of what the self-employed person must go through. They are their own CPA, their own supervisor, their own employee, their own PR and marketing person, their own web designers, and their own check cutters. They do not wait on direct deposits to show up, they have to go after the money.
Each of the areas that were named could be full time jobs within themselves: pay roll department, ad departments, web development departments, etc. If the creative professional is good at juggling those responsibilities, then they might have a chance to succeed, but it is not guaranteed. That is the part that scares their loved ones. Often the creative entrepreneur is told “just go to college” or “why are you wasting your time?” While I understand this rationale, I also look at its similarities to being an entrepreneur and a student with a family. Observe the comparison:
The serious student will go to school full-time and lose time with the family if he or she holds a day job to support the unit.
The creative entrepreneur is faced with the same thing.
The college student must study and learn thus taking time from the family and may have to take a pay cut, thus contributing to the financial strain of the household.
So does the creative entrepreneur.
The full-time student usually takes about four or five years to get their degree before they go off to find a job. They will also have thousands of dollars of debt that will also add to the financial stress of the household.
The creative entrepreneur will work a similar timeline before finding success and may incur the cost of creating his or her company/organization/business.
Now here is the kicker; after all of the hard work, only one will be respected for failing to find employment, should unemployment become a reality. And in this job market, it is the reality for a lot of college graduates. And I cannot tell you all of the heated debates I have been in that ended with the other person, equally as unemployed as I was, saying “At least I have a degree!”
What it means when translated into the language of the truth is, they failed too and they need justification for all that they did. The creative entrepreneur is different in this regard because they are not given that particular pass. They get the obligatory: “I told you so.”
It is because of this dynamic that many creative entrepreneurs die at home, figuratively speaking. Their families, perhaps from lack of understanding, fail to support them adequately. I look at the creative entrepreneur the same as I look at the student. The way they work, the way they struggle, and the way they succeed and fail. There are studies that show college graduates make more than those with just a high school diploma and that is not even in debate here. What is in debate is why we end the potential of so many creative people before they get to step foot out the the house to see if they can win. While there are a large number of creative entrepreneurs, for instance those who are still trying to get that record label going but really haven’t advanced, there are also a large number of career students who never make it to where they are headed.
Both deserve support and respect and to look down on either is a disservice to those individuals that choose to try making an honest living in different ways. So husbands and wives, believe in your spouses whether he or she is in college or attending the school of entrepreneurial hard-knocks. Your support may make the difference between success or failure.
The second installment of Nathan’s series is called: The MURDER of Creative Entrepreneur. Often creative entrepreneurs are used for their talents, but asked to work for less than their value constantly. Examples include businesses that want to incorporate visual or preforming art into their presentations, i.e. fundraisers, events, art work for their business location, but instead of being a part of the event or consultation, artists or musicians are treated as secondary fluff. Rarely are artists and musicians treated like professional peers. This is a lost opportunity in many regards, think of what a creative mind could bring to the planning stages of an event. It creates a pool of professionals that become apprehensive about partnering. Until creative professionals are treated as professional equals, they will continue to feel as though their work is “not as respected.” Many give up because they feel what the do is so undervalued. Practical need takes over and they give up their dreams of being a creative entrepreneur. But it doesn’t have to be this way.