I’m hosting a new podcast called “The Creative Block.” I’m hoping it will be a place to talk to creative about being creative and also what they nerd out about. There are a lot of great interview style podcasts about being creative already out there so why I want to do that? Well hopefully over time we can find our own tone that’s different from the others. We have a lot of ideas of ways to branch out from just being an interview show. So check it out and join me and the team on the ride.
This post originally appeared on the 2930 Creative blog on January 9, 2013. I plan to write new posts but I needed a post to work on the layout and my brain won’t let me write unless the site is all set up. That being said, I love this post just as much now as I did then and it’s still extremely relevant. Hope you enjoy it now as as much I enjoyed it writing it.
A year ago today I was let go from my previous agency job. I didn’t know it yet but it was the best thing that has ever happened to my career.
I put everything into that job. I was so dedicated to that job that I stayed despite many people moving on to bigger and better things. I’m not sure when I would have left if they hadn’t let me go. Being tossed aside for a higher profit margin put the chip on my shoulder I needed to make this business happen. I didn’t know my “why” yet, but it gave me the kick in the ass to find it. Knocked my work ethic up about 8 notches and put me on the fast track to living my dream.
Of course I don’t want anyone to get fired. It’s a terrible thing to go through in this economy but only if you let it be. I think being fired can be a positive thing if you’re ready. If you’re willing to hustle and do some dirty work, being fired can be very positive. But don’t wait on your boss to do it, fire yourself. Get in the right mindset and build what you’ve always wanted.
So what’s the point? The point is if I can survive being fired and build a business, you can too. Here’s how:
1) Find your why
You need to have a reason you are doing what you do. When it’s 2 am and you’ve been working since 9am you need that fire that keeps you going. It took getting fired for me to find my “why.” Mine is all the fake marketing “gurus” and web designers preying on small businesses. I’m very very passionate about going to head to head with all the agencies leaving small businesses stranded by their website, social media or graphics. So many small businesses have been burned by someone giving them work they don’t want, disappearing and leaving them unhappy. This is bad for their business and it’s also bad for our industry. As creatives, we should be better than that. That’s the short version, leave the rest for another post. For you it might take something else to give you the epiphany but for me it was getting fired that gave me the clarity that I could help these businesses more effectively than I was in my previous job.
2) Find a partner
You need someone also going through it to talk to and to hold you accountable. If no one is asking you for things and keeping you on task you won’t get anywhere, especially if you have to work two jobs to build it. I had tried to build businesses many times before but always by myself and they all ended up in the graveyard. You don’t have to have a partner or co-founder, but you do need someone to at least be holding you accountable for everything you are doing. Have someone to balance out your weaknesses doesn’t hurt though.
3) Work hard
You can’t build a dream without hard work. It’s human nature to want to lay around after 8 hours at your day job however every minute you take off someone else is out-working you. Personally I hate thinking about that. I want to be that guy. I don’t mind losing out to a competitor on talent but I will not lose out because I didn’t work hard enough.
I worked hard before I was fired but wasn’t willing to work harder until then. For months I felt that now I have to prove I didn’t deserve to be fired, that I’m better than that. In some ways I still do despite having gotten jobs offers, quit a job and built a company. I never wanted to prove they made a mistake, it was my pride that stepped up. Every day I said “you’re better than this.” Then kept going.
4) Make mistakes
Don’t be afraid to fail. Try new things for clients. If they blow up in your face, just be honest with them. Explain what you learned and how it will help you do better work for them from now on. This is the best way to learn. Within the past year the list of mistakes we’ve made is too long to list anywhere but we’re still here. We aren’t here in spite of our mistakes, we are here because of them. What we learned from each one, has made us a better agency as well as a better business.
5) Take risks
You can’t build anything by playing it safe. At some point you will be faced with a risky decision and you’ll be afraid to take it but for the sake of your business, you’ll have to. Don’t be afraid, embrace it. Without risk, there is no reward. 3 months ago I quit my day job to go full-time in our business. It’s definitely a risk, but there’s no way we could have taken on the clients we have since then. There just wasn’t the capacity with me working the other job. There was also no way we could grow beyond that if I didn’t make the jump.
So whenever you’re ready, fire yourself. It might be the best decision you’ve ever made.