Roughly a year ago I posted this Instagram picture, with the Confucius quote “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in our life.” As a stand back and analyze this quote after a year in developing a service based business, I inwardly smile and recognize that I was missing a piece of the puzzle back then.
I was missing a piece because I didn’t understand who I was serving yet. It is one thing to do what you love, however to do what you love in service to fulfilling someone else’s needs is something altogether different.
It requires perseverance in a series of trial and errors to understand where the beautiful intersection of what you love doing/creating is, with what people need. In my experience, the best place to start is to identify where people are looking for help in your expertise area and/or in a complimentary area, and then jumping into the work they need (whether or not you have 1 or 10 years of experience).
Along the way you will acquire more skills, do some of the work you love and continue to hone your craft into a system that can continually creates value for others.
An anecdote that illustrates this journey better than I can, is my husband’s metal art business. Ryan has been creating metal art for about 10 years, what started as a hobby and work that he loved, has blossomed into a business that continually delivers value to his customers.
He started by building pieces that he loved, creative, unique and connected to his interest areas. Here are a few examples of his earlier work:
These pieces attracted attention and he had fun sharing them with coworkers and friends. After seeing their interest, he decided to share them with the public at local art fairs.
Sharing his art was fun and allowed him to connect with the public and other artists. That said, sales of pieces were infrequent and exciting when they happened. We celebrated any piece over a couple hundred dollars as a complete stroke of luck.
As the years passed on, we traveled to more shows and observed many artists making a living creating and selling their crafts and fine arts. I wondered how they could pay their regular bills and have families on an art salary, in my mind “starving artist” just kept flashing.
Looking back, I can see clearly what these artists were doing, they were conducting a business just like any major corporation would. They were tracking the pieces that sold, making more items similar to those pieces and posing questions to their customers about what else they would like to see. At times customers would suggest something completely out of an artist’s interests, but other times the match of an artist’s interest and a customer’s wants would be perfect.
As a creative person following a dream hobby down the rabbit hole of creating a business of it, you walk a fine line of creating art you love and selling out your talent to make an income. It’s a constant journey of remaining in integrity, but also paying your bills.
When you find that product or service that uniquely blends your passion with a customer’s wants, that is the magic all artists and creative people crave.
For my husband that wonderful blend has been found in creating tables for his customers.
Here are a few examples:
Each one of these tables represents years of learning, exploring customer interests and refining his craft. They also represent commitment to the dream of making a passion more than a hobby.
As a service based business owner or creative entrepreneur, I encourage you to keep asking your customers questions about what they want.
If they present a need that you aren’t sure how to meet, ask yourself: could I learn how to meet this need? Perhaps it is not in your wheelhouse of talent or interest, but every once and awhile allow yourself to explore a new tangent. These tangents just may unlock the opportunity to serve others in a way you never imagined.
In the end, it comes down to being open to what the universe is showing you it needs. Without openness we run the risk of resisting “what is” and struggling against the currents of time and the ever changing needs of the people we want to serve.