Updated: Oct 24, 2019
So many creative entrepreneurs struggle with fears that stop them from growing their business, or putting their work out into the world - fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of seeming self absorbed, fear of losing time/ money/ interest.
Confronting these insecurities is vital to building your empire and creating long-term success.
Whether your fears stem from a lack of confidence, resistance to putting a price tag on your art or other factors, developing your creative business to the next level depends on you facing these roadblocks head on and overcoming them.
Etsy Content Coordinator, Katy Svehaug spoke with long-term creative, Holly Bobisuthi- founder of Holly Bobisuthi Jewelry- about her strategies for overcoming her fears and boosting her confidence as an artist and business owner.
Holly, a metalsmith and illustrator, sells her jewelry on Etsy, at in-person events and at shops around the US through wholesale orders. She relishes the twists and turns her creative journey has taken her on, and offers up her advice for battling six common business fears creative entrepreneurs often face.
Thanks to Katy Svehaug from Etsy for the following interview, which has been truncated for this piece:
Fear One: Sharing Your Work is Too Personal
Deciding to sell your work isn’t about compromising your values, it’s about finding a happy medium between developing your craft and maintaining your livelihood.
“It can be really hard to sell your work when you put so much soul into it,” says Holly. “Especially at first, when it feels too precious.”
Remembering that the creative process is just that — a continuous process — has made all the difference in the world to Holly in terms of selling her work. “Remember that you’ll always make more,” she recommends. In addition, for every 50 pieces of regular work she creates, she develops a more elaborate piece to keep and wear until someone makes her an offer for it that she simply can’t refuse.
Fear Two: Someone Else Has Already Done It
Creative value comes from the intention behind your work, Holly says. Whilst it’s really important to make sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, don’t dismiss the validity of your own ideas simply because you’re worried someone else is already making a similar product.
“Ultimately, the value of creative work is internal to the maker,” she says. “The more closely work is linked to the emotional core, the stronger the work seems to be and the more it resonates with others.”
To find out how to distinguish your products, check out 5 Steps to Stand Out From the Competition.
Fear Three: People Might Not Buy Your Products
Putting a price tag on your creations can be a struggle when you’re first starting your small business. Many artists struggle with underpricing their work early on, only to realise later on that they could have been charging more.
“Pricing is a challenge for artists everywhere, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of basically giving it away.”
handy tip: it’s a lot easier to be confident in your business and your pricing when it’s paying at least some of the bills. “I keep cutting my hours at my day job so that my business will become a bigger source of income.”
Even if you’re just starting out, take the time to do the math with your prices to ensure that you're correctly estimating what your time and work is really worth. Make sure you’re covering your materials and paying yourself at least as much hourly as you would make at a day job. If that price doesn’t make sense, go back and change things.
You can read more about pricing your products in How to Price Like a Pro.
Fear Four: You Don’t Know What Success Looks Like for You
For creative entrepreneurs, success defies a simple definition; it’s innately relative to the individual. If you look solely to others to define whether your work and business are on par, you’ll undoubtedly end up feeling less-than.
For Holly, growth is about both skill and concept. Holly developed her own system for evaluating her progress, and recommends that other sellers conduct self evaluations on their own terms. Get the process started by reading 5 Ways to Define and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms.
Going beyond developing confidence, a huge part involves setting goals and creating a vision that’s specific to your product and offerings.
Fear Five: You Don’t Have Enough Time
If you’re waiting for the perfect, stress-free opportunity to tap into your creative side and start a business, odds are good that you’ll never get your paint brush wet.
Creative confidence is a product of practice; the more you hone your craft and share your work with the world, the less daunting it becomes. If you don’t make creating a priority, no one else is going to do it for you.
“Work every day,” Holly says. “Even if it’s only for 10 minutes.” Become an advocate for your own creative time and space. If you’re bogged down with logistics, rethink your processes to spend more time doing the work that means the most to you. Read Crunched for Time? Put Routine Tasks on Autopilot for more time-saving tips.
Fear Six: You’re Afraid of Failing
Starting a business is an inherently risky move. The path to success is rarely smooth. Even the most successful entrepreneurs stumble a few times along the way. The upshot is that overcoming those obstacles will help build your confidence. Since there’s no clear road to develop a successful creative business, why not take the scenic route?
Give yourself permission to break a few plates, color outside the lines and occasionally create work that’s truly, magnificently terrible.
Holly makes a point of pursuing new challenges often. “I take on projects that are outside my comfort zone, participate in art shows outside of my field and say ‘yes’ often to keep myself from getting too comfortable,” she says.
Learn more about maximizing your creative business potential by reading Develop a Winning Product in 5 Steps.
How are you going on your journey? Have you learned to overcome fears as a creative entrepreneur?
I'd love to hear your advice for building confidence in the comments.