Okay, let me guess. You are a creative person. You’re crafty and artistic, and you have a real passion what you do. You think frequently, “wouldn’t it be awesome if this could be my business? Wouldn’t it be great if this is what I did for a living?” We’re always told that when you find your passion, that is what you should be doing for a living, but sometimes that’s not always the case. You want to make sure that you clarify your values before you launch into making your passion, your business. Sometimes our passion is one thing, but the things we really value in life from a long-term perspective, aren’t quite the same.
Years ago, I loved to bake. I still love to bake, but I did a lot more of it when my daughter was young. One year, for her seventh birthday, I even made a huge Hogwarts cake. The cake looked like Hogwarts castle. It was elaborate. It had turrets and it was awesome! And I love doing it.
That Christmas, I thought, “you know what? What if I help my neighbors out?” I put some flyers around the neighborhood and offered to bake their Christmas goodies for them. That seemed like a really wise course of action. I was a single mom and I needed some extra cash. I knew a lot of people in my neighborhood were busy at the holidays and didn’t have time to bake and I love to do it.
I thought it was a real win-win. I put up the flyers and sure enough, I got a bunch of business. I had a lot of people contact me and I made Irish brownies and cranberry bliss bars, and rocky road fudge. I was baking and baking and baking and I made a bunch of extra cash.
It was awesome. I paid for all my Christmas that year, but I was exhausted. I never wanted to see another pound of butter or cup of sugar in my life. It completely ruined my hobby for me. I never wanted to bake again.
That’s when I thought, well, maybe baking isn’t the business I need to go into. I had to take a step back and clarify my values. I realized my values were to be able to do something I loved but to still have plenty of downtime, to still have plenty of time to be with my daughter, to not have to spend every evening baking so that it would be fresh in the morning while she was wanting to watch a movie or play a game.
I also had to realize that the things I love to do, that I can do without getting tired, don’t include baking. I love to teach. I love to interact with people. I love to speak publicly. I have a PhD in history, so I love history. And the more I thought about it, I thought, “you know, I want to do a different kind of business.”
So I started a historical tour business. It allowed me to do the things I love to do, that I could do for hours and hours and hours without getting tired, and keep baking as my hobby, because I had plenty of downtime to bake when I wanted to.
I could leverage my time and my skills by doing bigger groups and getting contracts with places like the school systems so that I had all that downtime that I wanted.
If you’re thinking about starting a business and you’re a creative person, think about your values. What do you really value? Is creativity the value itself, or is that an avenue towards something else? And if you do something creative for a hobby, are you sure you want to do it for a business? Or do you want the business to support the creativity?
When you clarify your values, your business will go so smoothly, whatever business you decide to start will absolutely just roll, but don’t start the business until you’re clear on the values.