What If I Am On The Wrong Path?

We work with a lot of creative entrepreneurs – designers, writers, photographers, makers.  Usually by the time they have hired us to help them clear up their business vision, and package up their brand position and creative offering, they’ve pretty much picked a path for their business. They’ve plotted out their creative dream job working for themselves instead of a company, have been chugging down that path for months or even years, and are able to look up and see how far they’ve come. They’re feeling sustainable, so that means paying themselves properly while able to invest in business improvements – whether hiring an employee, relaunching their website, enrolling in training or attending conferences, or renting a cool office space.

All of this sounds like the picture of what working for yourself should be, right? But so often when creatives are visioning, daydreaming, planning and what-iffing their future, the same question just pesters them left and right – “what if I’m going down the wrong path?”

The Aspiring Entrepreneur

The Entrepreneur Who's Arrived

The Aspiring Creative Entrepreneur Just Starting Out.
For the aspiring entrepreneur, let’s say someone about to quit her day job and take the exhilarating leap, or someone who’s been on their own for a bit now, but is still starting-and-stalling getting her business fully realized, this question “what if I’m choosing wrong?” can feel so permanent and life altering. Some of us are able to mildly tolerate this very natural, yet nagging worry and then swat it away now and again when the buzzing gets too loud.

But sometimes, and this can comes up especially when we’re coaching creatives, this question can completely stop the aspiring entrepreneur in her tracks – analysis paralysis, put on the flashing lights, pull over, this bus ain’t goin’ nowhere.

The Creative Entrepreneur Who Has “Arrived.”
But the entrepreneurs “who’ve arrived,” aren’t immune to retracing their path in moments of self-doubt either. You know, those creatives I mentioned above who seem to be on a roll?  Sometimes that speed of opportunity and choice coming so fast can be as overwhelming as any of those early days, wondering when business was ever going to pick up beyond a crawl.

Because sometimes when we get where we were headed in the first place, we wonder why we chose this destination, and start wondering if we can get a “do-over.” This is the moment we ask “oops, did I go down the wrong path?”

Don't Get Off The Bus

You Can Always Change Your Path. Just Don’t Get Off The Bus.
This path-choosing anxiety (or regret) could center around whether to focus on a particular niche, or whether to structure your business around a service, a product, or even a content-sharing model. Your fork in the road could be deciding on pairing up with a business partner or investor, or it could be whether to establish a physical “storefront” or keep your brand living purely online. And one of the most heavy-hearted questions could even be, “should I go back to the financial security (and decision-making reprieve) of working for someone else?”

Our creative entrepreneurship within Braid, our own business, is not immune to this constant decision-making – oh no, we’re always choosing paths. Sometimes we even start down one, hit reverse, and try another, but that doesn’t keep us from barreling down that alternate route instead.

But what really keeps us moving forward when the path-choosing gets tricky – is knowing how to stay on the bus. “The bus” is our own creative expertise that will never change, and our vision for what is going to make this dream job we’ve created for ourselves (a.k.a. the journey) worth it. 

What’s Your Bus?
If you are just starting out, or have already created a business on your own terms, stop asking which path should I choose for just a moment – and ask yourself this, “what’s my bus?” How can I define what it is to be a creative expert, and what’s my core expertise that I hope will never change?

Eventually You Can Shape Whatever Path You Choose… To Fit You.
If you’ve been down plenty of paths already, ask yourself this, “am I really embracing the expertise I’ve already hard-earned?” Maybe not. If you’re not really owning that power, yeah, you might start dreaming of “do overs,” but really, if you can get undeniably centered around this expertise, you can shape almost any path to you – instead of letting your clients, your industry, your services shape you.

Decision-making can really get us all going in circles of self-doubt (that would be a cul-de-sac instead of a path) what are some ways you break the cycle and get moving down the road? Tell us about it on Facebook!


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