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Personally, I’ve seen this invoke a lot of fear around change, progression, and general growth in many businesses that I’ve worked with. The desire to take more risks is there, but so is the fear of losing their audience. So how do we, as creative entrepreneurs, allow ourselves to grow a business that we love without the supposed risk of “losing it all”?
During our panel discussion on Mindfulness and The Creative Process a few months ago, Janessa Leoné talked about how she had expanded her own personal label to not only support what her audience currently wants, but what she also feels speaks to her creative process. She has a number of people relying on her to sell products that speak to consumers, but as a creative person, she also doesn’t want to stagnate. So she asks herself, “What is my audience wanting? What are they asking for? And how can I evolve and create within my brand to still serve them?”
Knowing what you need to balance your business’s service and products, while also making room to test and change, is ultimately the key to business growth (and personal satisfaction). But knowing how much time to commit to exploration vs. the status quo can be difficult for many of us creative business owners.
This is where a version of the 80/20 rule comes into play.
Alongside Leoné, other entrepreneurs have mentioned making room to take risks and test new ideas, and their approach is definitely worth sharing. While they focus about 80% of their time on managing their business as it currently exists, they also use about 20% of their time to test new ideas. I have seen entrepreneurs build that exploration time into their schedules and, not only are they more creatively satisfied, but their businesses grow as a result.
Try setting aside 20% of your time in the coming month to do something totally outside the box, something that fills you up creatively. You don’t have to abandon your business entirely; just give yourself the room to try. You can continue to serve your clients or customers as they exist now, and also let them in on the experiments you’re working on. While you’re testing something new for your audience, explain how it is designed to better serve them. While social media and immediate responses can add to the fear of sharing your creative risk-taking, I’m a firm believer that your audience will respond positively to transparency and ingenuity.
Creative risk-taking is necessary to prevent stagnation and overwhelm, both in your business and for your creative entrepreneurial spirit. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, but are afraid your audience won’t respond well, try to dedicate just 20% of your time or effort to exploring it. Schedule it in, and stick to it.
As with all things, you don’t know if it will work until you try it, and nobody wins 100% of the time. But your fear shouldn’t be focused on the exploration itself; it should be on not exploring and evolving. So I encourage you to lean into risk, knowing that the process is ultimately a win-win—you’ll either find success, or learn a great deal in the process.