Thank you to blogger #6, Gillian Lancaster, who writes about why she finds having multiple businesses so seductive. My response to this question and several others which Gillian kindly submitted for Your Biz Your Way is published in that book.
Although you know I like having lots of creative choices, you might also wonder why I’m writing a post called ‘Why is having multiple businesses so seductive?’. It is time for me to admit to you that in addition to all that goes on on this site, I also have a web and graphic design business and an Etsy shop, so from time to time I wonder about the sanity of my ongoing seduction of wanting multiples. When business mentor, Judith Morgan, asked for questions for her book, Your Biz Your Way, I asked for her opinion about my seduction. You can read her answer to my question – and fifty one more – in her book!
Being a lifelong creative, I have had multiple projects on the go as far back as I can recall, so the seductive power of having choices runs deep and long in me. Even recently as I’ve returned to hands on creating, I’ve also bought domain names for business ideas that I’ve experimented with, but largely abandoned. Having three businesses is my sweet spot, and I just can’t imagine only having less. Maybe at some future date I will turn them all into one business. Maybe.
I’ve yet to meet another creative soul who only does just one creative thing at a time. We creatives veer away from stagnation with a vengeance, and keep wary guard against it sneaking up on us and leaving us with no new projects on hand! Our skill sets are constantly being challenged and upgraded, and we enjoy both the old loves and the new. It is the same process for me and my businesses. I’ve let the ones go that weren’t satisfying – or which drew in the wrong kind of customer – and settled on just these three. Each business grows in its own way and as one grows, I look to creative solutions to improve the other two so they don’t get left behind. (I’ve also put an embargo on any starting new enterprises. Growth has to come from within these three survivors!)
So how does running three businesses work in reality? For the most part, pretty well! A couple of days a week I focus on making and shipping things, photographing them, and then preparing draft listings for Etsy so I can quickly post something new each day. A couple more days I work on this site, researching topics for weekly posts, making videos, and creating books or classes. Then I spend another day or so doing graphic design work and meeting with clients and students. These schedules are not fixed to specific days of the week, so if something needs attention I can change my schedule to take care of it.
In amongst this schedule is space for sometimes surprising new projects to appear. Understanding how to improve something on this site will provide an insight to pass on to a client. Art I create for the Etsy shop may become the basis of a project for this site, which is then created using my graphic design skills. This fluidity between the businesses feels natural to me, and has proved to be an exciting catalyst for new ideas.
I decided to work this way because I first discovered the world of self-employment-doing-what-you-love through Barbara Winter’s book Making a Living Without a Job nearly a decade ago. She advocates creating multiple income streams to ensure that income flows despite the inevitable fluctuations inherent in each stream. The idea made such good sense to me that it attached itself to my psyche – and apparently hasn’t let go.
For me, work cannot too predictable because if it is, I quickly lose interest in it. I don’t like having to do exactly the same thing, exactly the same way. Every. Single. Day. I am much better with a schedule that has the flexibility to let me run with a new idea or attend to a new client without worrying that it isn’t ‘that day’. It also provides enough structure that everything important gets done – at some point during the week!
The upside of this trio of businesses is that each business has its own season when it is at its most demanding and most productive, and fortunately these spread out across the year. Arguably running just one business and working out how to avoid the low seasons would be easier, but that mindset also feels a bit corporate for my rebellious spirit!
I’ve lived too long denying my creative, geeky, and nerdy self. Having developed my businesses to acknowledge who I really am, and which provide the ways to utilize my unique skills and strengths, I am reluctant to let them go.