Why I Wrote this Book

In over 30 years as a business consultant and advisor, I have had hundreds of creative entrepreneurs as clients. They are photographers, designers (web, jewelry, graphics, fabric and fashion) performing artists, writers, casting directors, sculptors and even puppeteers! Early in my career I gave them traditional advice. I told them they must devote their time to building a business, not to just creating a product. I was part of the system that said that trying to be successful while self employed as an artist could be a financially foolish endeavor. The creative entrepreneur was often told that if they just looked around they could see that the only ones who really “made it” were those who somehow broke into the big time and sold their creations for fantastic prices in high end galleries, to celebrities or the top earning layer of society. If they couldn’t reach this goal, they were doomed to either get a day job and make their craft a beloved hobby or resign themselves to being a “starving artist.”

The problem persists today. Although creative entrepreneurs are very talented and driven, they usually have no idea how to turn what they love to do into a livelihood. Thus, their businesses fail at an alarming rate. Because they cannot find the right pathway to success, they are chronically overworked and abysmally underpaid. No matter how hard they try, they cannot work enough hours or charge enough money per job to create a viable enterprise that makes them a living. Their common story is one of failed attempts to support themselves through their art. They lose heart, and, when they give up, no one wins. The entire economy loses their much needed creative energy and vision.

When I worked with my clients I saw a pattern. They were bursting with energy and innovative ideas, but they did not want to focus on building a traditional business that became bigger and thus ‘more successful’ as proposed in many small business books. It’s estimated that there are over 20,000,000 small, creative businesses in the US and yet, because of this traditional focus on growth oriented businesses, even today there is little to no guidance to help these creative ventures become profitable and sustainable. Luckily, times are changing.

Changes in technology have allowed the creative entrepreneur to easily reach broader markets and find their target customers – thus a new business model is emerging- one that stresses the importance of creating a product that can truly sustain and support the creative entrepreneur. When I realized this trend and opportunity, I began to coach them differently. Instead of encouraging them to find a way to focus only on high earning clients, I encouraged them to work smarter, choose their clients carefully, focus their work and become the “go-to” expert in their field. I encouraged them to charge higher prices and learn how to articulate their value in order to make their creative work a viable livelihood. The advice works. More and more clients who followed my ideas found a way to become financially successful with their artistic endeavors.

How I taught my creative entrepreneur clients to succeed using my new coaching techniques is the topic of my book Better, Smarter, Richer!