Finding a Balance Between Creativity & Running a Business

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Recently, there have been a lot of posts about work life balance. From all that I have read, the most thorough and honest one is from a great friend, Philip Bloom who sheds light on how this balance has affected him. For me, this struggle is an easy one to relate to because as a freelancer trying to establish myself, balancing the two is extremely challenging.  On the same front, another challenge I am trying to balance is the desire to be creative while trying to run a business. This challenge is a push / pull battle and inevitably effects the type of work I choose to do. What I want to do in this post is discuss how to balance the two and provide 5 tips to help keep the creative juices flowing, no matter the project that you are working on.

  1. Take Risks. 
  2. Be adaptable.
  3. Push the Status Quo.
  4. Find a Balance.
  5. Reflect.

We all know that every project comes with a set of parameters. These parameters are usually what limit the creativity and the drive of many companies. The cost verses benefit equation is also a factor that limits creativity. Many companies that become complacent do so because of consistently loosing creative control battles with clients. I’ve seen it and have also seen motivated people change after working for tough clients for an extended period of time with revisions hitting as high as 25.

When starting any business, be it as a freelancer or other, one of the biggest stresses is cash flow. The problem that many businesses run into is that they let this stress dictate the direction their business takes. These companies base many decisions off the fear of not being able to pay these bills rather than basing the decisions off of what the business actually wants to do. I can openly admit that I have made decisions in the past based off of the need to pay the bills. The fear is that if you start saying no to work, the work will stop coming in. In my experiences. I have not found this to be the case. To escape falling into the rut of taking all work that came my way, I have started to do five things that not only push my creativity but get me close to the type of work that I actually want to be doing.

1. Take Risks.

No matter the project you are undertaking, it is key to find a way to turn the experience into one that pushes you beyond your comfort zone. Becoming complacent is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to establish yourself in the industry. Try at least one new production technique on each and every project – no matter how small the change is. By doing this, you will continually evolve your skill set. Another important thing to do is surround yourself with other like-minded individuals – people who are also striving to improve upon every project. Find people with differing skill sets and draw upon these skills with every project.

One example of a film where I tried to push myself was a piece shot last year in Chicago. For this film, I wanted to blend time-lapse with live action and do so in a seamless manor. I also wanted to integrate a story.

2. Be adaptable.

Finding the positive out of any situation can sometimes be challenging but by being able to do so, you will be able to turn a stressful situation into a positive experience for everyone involved. Further to this, being able to adapt to any situation allows you to bridge the gap between the passion projects and the professional projects. Before embarking on any project, lay out the goals of the project as well as actionable items to help achieve these goals. Ensure that you have a backup plan. By being able to react on the fly and make decisions based on the broader goals of the project, you will be able to overcome challenges that arise during production.

3. Push the Status Quo.

Don’t limit yourself and your creativity. Unrealistic goals are only unrealistic when you say they are. The greats of this world became great because they took risks. Challenge yourself to look outside the box and find new ways to do things. You will fail and you will make mistakes. However, it is how you deal with these failures that will inevitably make you stronger and lead you towards success.

4. Find a Balance.

Being able to balance the work that pays the bills with the passion projects is extremely critical in the longevity of your business. You may have to take work that you don’t want to do early in your career but don’t make a habit of it. My goal since I started down the current path I am on is to get paid for the passion projects. I’ve pushed myself to find ways that will allow me to make a living doing what I love. Bridging the two together is without question at the forefront of my desires.

One such example where I was able to balance the two was on a project I helped shoot and edit last year in Vegas that allowed me to bridge my passions with professional work. I’ve included the film below:

5. Reflect.

Keeping your ten year plan close at hand keeps your goals at the forefront of these endeavours. By no means is the process easy but the more effort you put in, the more success you will more than likely have. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and a little stressful but when you look back at what you’ve accomplished when you have your goals clearly set out, it really isn’t that hard to stay motivated.

Take Control of Your Day

You’re stuck in a rut. You have countless deadlines fast approaching. Now you may be asking, what can I do NOW to make a change? The answer is actually fairly simple. Take a step back and layout everything you need to do. Formulate a realistic game plan with actionable steps. Don’t procrastinate. Take action. If you hope to make a change, it is key that you take time to recharge and take time to do at least one thing a day that will get you closer to your bigger goals – even if you only have tens minutes. Remember, the only person that is able to get you closer to your dreams is yourself. You will more than likely not be successful UNLESS you are willing to put in the time!

Questions? Concerns? Feel free to comment below. Comments are encouraged!!!

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