By Missy Hancock
This year my dad gave me a birthday card that made me cry, but not for a reason you might think. It was the way he signed it that got me. “We love you and are so very proud of the daughter, woman, mother, entrepreneur, and the wonderful person you are.” Well that is just nice. I believe every woman wants to hear that her father is proud of her, but what made me cry was the word “entrepreneur”. Like many artists, money is a nuisance to me. I really truly have wished most of my adult life that we didn’t have to mess with it. You see, I have stories to tell, and babies to love, and paintings to paint, and lessons to bestow, and delicious dinners to make, and birthday parties to throw. I have things to do and make and create and dealing with money and the making and managing of it has just been a great big pain in my ass. And often, a huge road-block to my creativity and art.
Fortunately, I am married to Shawn,a brilliant artist who sees the world very much like I do. Together we have a mission to create wondrous works of art and stories that make the world a better place to be in. We make every effort to encourage others in any way we can but especially in their creative endeavors, because, quite frankly, people need encouragement in their creativity, and we know that creativity and art change the world so it is our privilege and honor to do it. We live on faith. Don’t get me wrong, we work…all the time. We even do quite a bit of work that we don’t care about but that just helps pay the bills, but those jobs are incidental, because we don’t let them define us.
“Money is a nuisance”, and yet I am constantly forced to focus on it. Recently, I have realized that to choose to live the life of an artist is to choose to be an entrepreneur. And the word entrepreneur is intricately interwoven with money, so of course, until recently, I have shied away from connecting myself to that word. The last thing I want is to connect my happy place of creativity and art with money and yet, whether I admit it or not, if I want to live my life as a working artist, money has to be involved–and wouldn’t it be better if I could involve it in a positive welcoming way rather than despise every interaction I am forced to have with it? So, I have cautiously dipped my toes in entrepreneurial waters.
Whether you want to admit it or not, if you want to make your living as an independent artist, then you, my friend, are an entrepreneur! So let’s just accept that and figure out how to be the best damn creative entrepreneurs we can be! Here are a few steps we are finding important as we wade in these waters.
- Make Peace with Money. I spent all those years thinking of money as a nuisance, as something detestable that I only tolerated because this world required it of me. Money is not “dirty” and I am not some pure and holy vessel because I refuse to be a part of money-making. What I am discovering is that money is neither wonderful or detestable. It is functional. It is a tool and as a human being living in the USA, it is a tool I need. Because I spent so much time despising it, I repelled it. I wanted to have as little to do with it as possible, so guess what? I didn’t have much money to deal with. Did this solve my problem? Of course not! Because money wasn’t the problem, my lack of money was the problem. I had to think about it far more often NOT having it, because I was constantly finagling and “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, and using “creative” financing tactics that were in no way worthy of my creativity, but were necessary for survival. Instead of saying “I hate money,” when I become frustrated with trying to make our finances work, I have started saying, “I hate the lack of money. Money is a tool that I welcome more of in my life!” Sound dorky? So what if it helps retrain my brain.
- GET OVER YOURSELF ALREADY and Start Marketing! Nearly a decade ago when blogging was really first taking off and mainstream society was starting to read and follow blogs, I did it all the time. And then I poked around in blog culture and found a ridiculous amount of shallowness and shameless self-promotion and got really turned off. My inner idealist (who, quite frankly, has screwed me over more than once with her idealism) raised her ugly head and decided not to have anything to do with this “blogging” world. I have one word in regards to this wretched business decision. FUCK! (And just so you know, I do not throw this word around lightly. I like to reserve the f-bomb for epic purposes, for extreme emphasis. This may, in fact, be the first time I have ever uttered it (or written it) in a public forum.) This one choice to stop sharing my thoughts with the world, to stop ‘marketing’ us has greatly affected the success we should be experiencing by now. To prove my point, my sister and I started blogging around the same time. I quit. My sister continued and now runs Europe’s Largest Antique Shopping Tour Company and speaks at conferences worldwide, a career she virtually invented and was entirely birthed out of her blog. FUCK! Learn from my mistake. Market yourself. Say what you have to say. Write what you have to write. Promote what you’re doing. You control this one aspect of your life. It may or may not bring you worldly success but it will be a worthy endeavor if you are truly sharing what is in your heart to share.
- STOP BELIEVING IN THE JOB MORE THAN YOUR DREAMS! Because Shawn and I have lived our adult lives making our money in a string of unconventional ways and by doing freelance art working from home, I have felt a sense of guilt and shame that we were not playing the game like we were supposed to. In our early years of marriage, my in-laws were constantly recommending I get a civilian job at the almighty air-force base in our city. My husbands brother and his wife work there and make a good living and so I should do that too. Because this was presented to me over and over as the prudent thing to do, my blatant disregard for their advice always made me question myself. Not enough to make me go get a job I had no interest in, mind you, but just enough to make me feel like a failure. The thing is, going for the dependable job is fine if that is your choice, if you don’t have this other thing beating in you that you feel like is yours to do. But if you do have this inner calling to something else, find a way to follow the calling. Of course, timing must be taken into consideration. Especially if you are already in the job, with the car payments and the mortgage and the bills that come along with the middle class dream. But I want to point something out that no one ever says to you. The job will only get you so far. Depending on the career path you choose, the ceiling may come sooner rather than later. Pursuing the job will get you a certain degree of comfort, but only to a certain point. The entrepreneur has no ceiling in America. That can be annoying when you think of the giant corporations that dictate much of our lives, but is empowering when you stop and realize that with enough vision, work, tenacity, and belief, the sky is the limit for you. Yes, even you artists out there!
So, when my dad said he was proud of me as an entrepreneur, it was like the seal on my life choices. A seal of approval that somehow made all the difference in the world to me, because you see, I will change this world for the better. I will use my creative gifts and talents, and my gift of encouragement to improve this world! And I will make a nice living for my family doing it. And you can too.
*Shawn and Missy Hancock are creative entrepreneurs in Guthrie, OK, USA. They run an art gallery and handmade market called Hancock Creative Shop and they believe you can do anything you choose to do.