Of all the life lessons I learned by living in New York City for fourteen years, there is one that I think has been particularly useful to running a creative business:
Anything can happen...be ready for it.
Let me explain.
NYC is a place where quite literally anything can and does happen. From the moment I would step out my apartment door in the morning, the only thing I could predict about my commute to work was that it would be unpredictable.
On any given morning, I could cross paths with an entire group of 2nd graders on the way to a field trip, encounter a full mariachi band looking to make some money on my crowded subway car, experience unexpected “police activity” that resulted in the entire train being held underground between stations for an unknown amount of time, or have a pleasant run-in with an old friend and chat the whole ride. This spontaneity is what makes urban places dynamic and exciting. It is also why I always tried to allow extra time, made sure to have good reading material, and brought snacks, some Advil and water (at the very least) with me when I left home, “just in case.”
Alternatively, I could always spot the folks who weren’t prepared and really struggled with this NYC “expect the unexpected” reality. They’d pace back and forth huffing and puffing waiting for a train to come that was late, or appear totally shocked and disgruntled when the subway was re-routed due to track repairs.
For sure, it is frustrating to not have things go as you had planned, but if we are blind to the possibility that stuff just happens, we end up letting these road-bumps overly affect us.
Now that I’m living in the much calmer midwest and running Makers Megaphone Coaching full-time, some days my commute is simply walking across my apartment to my desk. Yet, I can now speak with confidence when saying, the mindset of expecting the unexpected is not just a good practice for stressed New Yorkers, it’s also so important for anyone who is self-employed or runs their own venture.
On any given day, the things I hope to accomplish, or the revenue I anticipate coming in, can change on a dime. Even in the last few months, I’ve had projects I thought were going to happen fall through the cracks, clients cancel last minute, or new opportunities that were better than I could have planned come up from unlikely sources. The unexpected is just the nature of self-employment and small business life. This is why for this week’s Monday Motivation Challenge, I’m encouraging all creatives to consider ways to be prepared for whatever may happen.
Consider ways you can be more prepared for the unexpected in your creative practice:
- Is there a way you can diversify your revenue stream in case one source drys up? (wholesale, retail, online shop, manufacture, etc)
- What can you do to keep a pipeline of new orders or future projects in the works? (marketing, newsletters, events)
- Do you use contracts when working with others? If not, could you start?
- Can you keep some space in your schedule and not overbook, in order to allow for the unexpected?
- What safeguards can you put in place to give your business a bit of a buffer in the event unexpected things happen? (time, money, support, etc.)
No matter where you live or what you spend your days doing, you will likely have days where things don’t go as planned. I hope with a little foresight, these events will be merely hiccups instead of throwing you totally off course.
We're in this together,