The problem about being a creative AND a business person and how to solve that
During the past week I really have not gotten much done in terms of development and I hardly made any progress on my personal project. This happened despite having some free time which I could have used for such endeavours. I am sure many creative people have faced this issue time and time again, so I tried to dig deeper. This got me thinking — how was last week different from the rest and how to solve a similar inefficiency in the future.
The problem of similar for most solo-entrepreneurs. The job combines both the creative work and the business development and sales. By nature, those two fields are miles apart both in terms of skills and their nature.
When doing any kind of creative work, be it programming, designing or research, then the most productive work environment is the most stable one. We do our best creative work when we can concentrate on one task for longer durations of time and come back to the task after short pauses. During the creative process, it is absolutely essential that you would not have random external disturbances.
On the other hand, sales work is a social creature by its nature. Meaning, we are the best sales people when we have a high energy, positive mood and an optimistic attitude. Sales also demands us to constantly change the way we communicate. It could be due to change of communication channel (mobile vs in person) or just a change of clients. So a perfect salesman always morphs into the most suitable behavioural mode. Completely opposite from the creative who’s communication channel and end-goal is constant.
In the worst position are those creatives who have to do the sales themselves, because they have to wear two different boots at the same time. And I really feel for you because I know how hard it is. Truly, it is not a good idea to do both, because most people have personalities which are very well suited for one purpose and not the other and it is always better to be a superb creative or a good salesman compared to being an average Joe in both fields.
That being said, many of us do not have the ability to find a perfect person to partner up with and this will hurt in the long run. Despite that, you gotta do what you gotta do and when this means sales and creative work at the same time, then try to make the most of both worlds until we can come up with a better solution.
So, what is the solution?
It all comes down to weekly time management.
Weekly, not daily.
What I mean by that is or order to be at our potential best doing sales or creative work we must put ourselves in the best environment for a long duration.
This means that some days should be left for solely creative work and the others for business development. Now, I do not know what the best ratio for you would be, but for myself I could imagine doing 3 days business development and 3 days creative work. I have to admit that I have the possibility to outsource some of the creative work and I am also slowly transitioning into more of a sales role, because I feel that role suits my personality better in the long run. This is why I believe that the ratio will change for me over time and in case you feel like you strongly prefer one over the other, you should also consider slowly changing the ratio while maintaining the same productivity level.
On a more practical level, it is not that hard to concentrate your creative work on specific days, but it can be quite of a challenge doing meetings on certain days.
Now, it might sound a bit bossy, but the key is to let everyone know that you have certain days where you can have meetings and these days are non-negotiable. It might come as a shock at first to some of your clients, but in the long run everyone gets used to a new environment. You can start by saying that one day of the week is meant for only internal meetings and in a month of time follow up that it worked so well that you decided to make it two days a week only for internal meetings.
Even though, what I have describes does help to be more productive over the long term, it is not a solution for the long term. I strongly believe that we all should focus on our strengths in the long term and try to partner up with people who would be able to complement our skills with theirs.
So if you feel like you really like to build things, but the sales is just a necessary part which you have to do, then it certainly does pay off to partner up with someone who is a superb sales person and who could get you bigger and better projects.
The key here though is that you only want to partner up with other A-players. There is no point in partnering up with a sales person, who can do it a well as you can. No added value. Always try to find people who either are or have the potential to be the stars in their field. You will find more motivation to work with them, you will probably find a much more interesting person and you will both give each other more opportunities to progress.
So the key takeaway are:
Teamwork always yields the best results.
You are the best one-man-army by focusing your time into daily theme blocks.