I was chatting with a friend the other day and the conversation turned (as it often does in DC) to our respective professions. There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before she asked "But...I mean...how do you make a living?" The answer, of course, is "the way any other professional does." The life of an artist is unique to be sure, but the business isn't necessarily cloaked in mystery. Sure, it can feel like you are ignoring the gravitas of art-making by thinking about the success of your business, but if you are honest with yourself, you need to admit that maintaining a profitable business is foundational for the continuity of your process. I think that the inc.com article below outlines the basics pretty nicely.
9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People
I'm fortunate enough to know a number of remarkably successful
people. Regardless of industry or profession, they all share the same
perspectives and beliefs.
And they act on those beliefs:
1. Time doesn't fill me. I fill time.
Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a
good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task
will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.
Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks
should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly
and effectively as you can. Then use your "free" time to get other
things done just as quickly and effectively.
Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.
2. The people around me are the people I chose.
Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are
obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.
You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it's not
their fault. It's your fault. They're in your professional or personal
life because you drew them to you--and you let them remain.
Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the
types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you
want to have.
Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people.
Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people
like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees
want to work for remarkable bosses
Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.
3. I have never paid my dues.
Dues aren't paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The
only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on
a daily basis.
No matter what you've done or accomplished in the past, you're never
too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work. No
job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.
Remarkably successful people never feel entitled--except to the fruits of their labor.
4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.
You have "10 years in the Web design business." Whoopee. I don't care
how long you've been doing what you do. Years of service indicate
nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.
I care about what you've done: how many sites you've
created, how many back-end systems you've installed, how many
customer-specific applications you've developed (and what kind)... all
that matters is what you've done.
5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn't just happen to me.
Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be
filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional
Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and
instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, "My toy got
broken..." instead of, "I broke my toy."
They'll say the economy tanked. They'll say the market wasn't ready. They'll say their suppliers couldn't keep up.
They'll say it was someone or something else.
And by distancing themselves, they don't learn from their failures.
Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you
to fail. Most of the time, though, it's you. And that's okay. Every
successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a
lot more often than you. That's why they're successful now.
Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full
responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out
6. Volunteers always win.
Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.
That's great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to
gain skills, to build new relationships--to do something more than you
would otherwise been able to do.
Success is based on action. The more you volunteer
, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.
Remarkably successful people sprint forward.
7. As long as I'm paid well, it's all good.
Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good.
Generating revenue is great.
Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do--as long as
it isn't unethical, immoral, or illegal--is something you should do.
Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If
they'll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don't
normally include? If they'll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants
you to perform some relatively manual labor and you're a high-tech shop?
Shut up, roll 'em up, do the work, and get paid.
Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay
business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can
build a successful business.
Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.
And speaking of customers...
8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.
Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time.
The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the
right to dictate what you do and how you do it--sometimes down to the
Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do.
Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.
9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.
Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does.
Most people who go there think, "Wait... no one else is here... why am I
doing this?" and leave, never to return.
That's why the extra mile is such a lonely place.
That's also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email.
Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment.
Don't wait to be asked; offer. Don't just tell employees what to
do--show them what to do and work beside them.
Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do--especially if other people aren't doing that one thing. Sure, it's hard.
But that's what will make you different.
And over time, that's what will make you incredibly successful.