Several years ago I tried to start a business. I thought it would be great to leverage several of my talents into a paycheck.
Off the Compass Solutions came into being. I got all excited about it, built the website, created some flyers, business cards, and worked on pricing schemes. In the process, I developed all the tools to run a business aimed at helping other small businesses.
Off the Compass Solutions would be there to set up your office infrastructure like phones and PCs; write your marketing materials; develop and write in-house training and informational materials; proofread and edit existing documents; assist with staff training; help the busy entrepreneur to pick up the rolling balls and best run with them.
It was an ambitious idea. And I sabotaged it almost immediately.
First, I didn’t market myself or the business well at all. I had some high-minded ideas for this but executed exactly none of them.
Second, I was trying to do too much. Read again above all the things Off the Compass Solutions could do. That’s a lot of different things, including working hardware, software, writing, editing, and doing market analysis I knew zero about.
Divided attention, much? This made it hard to pitch because it was lacking in focus.
There were a few jobs I did here and there. But overall it was a sailboat without an engine and no wind whatsoever. I let it linger for a while.
Finally, after recognizing that it was an intriguing idea that sank before it even got launched, I closed the website, the business bank account, and removed it from LinkedIn and Facebook. I stopped trying to be my own business.
Better focus, better ideas
Eight months ago I began to write full-time. I posted articles to my blog, my website, but most importantly to Medium. With that, I set out to do more writing with my fiction and finally worked out the details for The Void Incursion sci-fi series. After prepping book 1 I sent it to the editor (and though there have been delays, I intend to release Opening Gambit, book 1 of The Void Incursion, in the next few months).
I put together and published You are Amazing. Then I assembled and publishedYou are Even More Amazing. Writing became my stock-in-trade, and though it is not yet paying the salary I desire it’s progressing apace.
After I began podcasting I recognized I had the tools to record my own work as an audiobook. Both novels of the You are Amazing series are available in audiobook form. Then, another author on ACX asked me to record their audiobooks. Now, in addition to two of my own, there are 5 other audiobooks I have narrated.
Writing and voice work (as podcasting and audiobooks go hand-in-hand, really). Two points of focus that are interrelated. My focus is not subdivided among a diverse pantheon of ideas but instead aimed at just two points.
Having a tighter focus allows me to develop better ideas along these lines. Since I’m not attempting to put myself everywhere all at once I can do better, sharper work.
Recently, an opportunity came my way to work with a marketing expert. Though this scares me in several ways, I think she is providing me with invaluable information that could take this all where I most desire for it to go.
I am, as such, beginning a new business venture. But not really. In truth, I’m turning myself into my business.
The business of me
The time has come to take the creative work that I am doing and treat it as a business. This is me becoming Me, Inc. (or probably more of a Me, LLC). It is here that I cease to just be an author/voice actor and become a business and entrepreneur.
Why should that matter? Because it changes the approach.
As a hobby, anyone can write. We are, as I write this, deep in the throes of National Novel Writer’s Month ( NaNoWriMo). Every November, millions of would-be, wanna-be, and even professional writers take on the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days.
This can be a really great way to encourage writing. For some, they begin their career with this. Others use it to expand and explore a hobby. When I have participated in the past more than once I used NaNoWriMo to write from a different perspective or within an unusual genre.
While I am not writing something new for NaNoWriMo this year, I am using the concept to see when I can reach 50,000 words with all the writing I am doing. So every article gets placed in my overarching NaNo file to see where the word count is headed.
Frankly, proving to myself that I am writing 50,000+ words a month I believe shows the legitimacy of me as a business.
Treating my work as a business is also a matter of mindset and mindfulness. When I take a business approach to my work there is a degree of seriousness and necessity that might not be there otherwise.
There are lots of creatives out there. It is increasingly becoming apparent to me that the most successful are not simply figures churning out work…they are business enterprises and entrepreneurs.
The next steps
Let me share what I am going to be doing next. This is not a brag nor me showing off — this is, to some degree, me being accountable.
Presently, I am writing two articles a day. Sometimes more. With NaNoWriMo to encourage me, I am doing more work on my fiction. I have taken my podcast and expanded it out to be weekly instead of bi-weekly.
There are, through my marketing mentor, several things I need to do to expand my business presence. That’s my focus in addition to the other work I am doing. The sci-fi novel will be back from the editor soon and I need to hire my cover artist.
Further, I need to record more audiobooks to expand my repertoire, gain more experience, and frankly earn more money to pay for the things I need.
Coming soon will be a YouTube channel and a new focus of my mindfulness practice. Awareness for Artists, which is very much in the preliminary stage of coming into existence, will be a major part of my new enterprise.
Right now, it’s the egg I am sitting on to hatch. No, that’s not a perfect metaphor but it works, deal with it.
I am excited and terrified to take these steps. This time, I believe that I have the focus and drive to build the business I have always wanted and be my own boss.
Thank you for taking part in my ongoing journey. Thank you for joining me, and for inspiring me and my arts.
You are worthy and deserving of using your mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done you matter.
Originally published at http://www.mjblehart.com on November 22, 2019.