Brace yourself for failure
I know what you're thinking, “Wow Chase, could your first tip be any more somber?” But seriously, let's face the facts: 50% of small businesses fail in the first two years. Although my business is intact, I have experienced few successes that came without the presence of some kind of a "failure” or a mistake. I have goofed in many areas both artistically and businesswise. To get through life's little bumps in the road, the first thing to do is not panic! Try not to get down on yourself, and always search for the lessons that reside in every mistake.
Now, let's forget about these statistics for a minute. To me, the biggest failure of all is not following your dreams in the first place. Always keep in mind that there are literally millions of people who are simply too afraid to even start a business! Keep your head up and remember, if you are creating, you are succeeding.
Invest in quality tools
If you are ready to make a go of your talents and gifts, don't cheat yourself with cheap tools. Without the right paintbrush, easel, welder, anvil, potter's wheel, kiln, etc., your ideas or designs are nothing but ideas and designs. And as with most things in life, when it comes to tools -- you get for which you pay. Whenever I bought the “cheaper” tool, I ended up paying the ultimate price: added frustration, wasted time, and wasted money.
Get busy, and let your actions do the talking
Once you have the proper tools, you need to get started, always remember that actions speak louder than words. Telling people about the great things you will create is a total waste of time and energy. Instead -- show them, and and let others do the talking for you. As my salty, sage neighbor says so well, “yak yak yak means nothing,” aka ... “shut up and get busy!”
Be very careful to whom you listen
If you want to be a part of the “maker movement,” as Martha Stewart has aptly named it, you can’t be too thin-skinned and you can't take everyone's advice. Not everyone will love your work and you will most likely receive plenty of criticism in addition to the praise and compliments. As for all of the unwarranted advice, you shouldn't ignore all of it, but perhaps ignore 90% of it. Reach out to established makers in your field or people who have established themselves and ask to pick their brain instead.
For more insight on the topic of selective listening and also the joys of dealing with failure, I highly suggest giving this post, by fellow Martha Stewart American Made winner Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower Farm.
Stay focused and master your craft
Above all else, this is the most important advice I can give. Sometimes when we try to be a “jack of all trades” we instead become a “master of none.” Not to mention, a common reason that new businesses fail is a lack of focus.
Focusing is tough for most people, but can be especially challenging for us creative right-brained types. One way that I maintain focus is by streamlining my business and carefully choosing the jobs that I do. Often I get requests or commissions for projects that fall outside my area of expertise. When these offers come across my desk, I must admit I am very tempted to do them. However, I know that going outside of my “specialty” or “focus” will ultimately cost me time, money, energy and even possibly my reputation.
I hope that these tips help to inspire you to become the “maker” I know you can be! If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.