How To Overcome The Feeling That You Should Just Give Up

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What do you do when you feel like you’re working so hard with nothing to show for it?

silhouette photography of man wearing fedora hat
Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

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Have You Ever Felt Like Giving Up?

Yesterday I had one of the weirdest emotional moments of this whole year.

There’s the high of doing $10,000 in a single week just six weeks after launching Craftsman Creative, and the low of getting furloughed for the summer from the TV show I was a senior producer on.

As most can likely agree, 2020 has been a year!

Yesterday though, I had a moment of such extreme clarity that it just overwhelmed me.

I was simultaneously excited and completely terrified…

When you own your own business – as an artist, a creative, a startup, a freelancer – in the early months you’re really doing everything.

You’re not just the CEO, but the Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Technical Officer, VP of Sales, Content Manager, and the face of the company, the one who has every single interaction with every single person your company comes in contact with.

It’s…a lot.

I have been studying and learning about generating awareness for my company for the last 6+ months. I realized early on that my audience wasn’t large enough to generate the kind of revenue I was aiming for with this new business.

I started doing whatever I could. I added partnerships (a HUGE win), took a dive into Facebook ads, Google ads, SEO, content marketing, and more.

Leading up to this breakthrough yesterday, it seemed like I was putting in all of this work with very little results to show for it.

That feeling is just terrible. It can eat at you and cause you to quit before things start to work.

I’m a firm believer that there aren’t any shortcuts in creative industries. Audiences, revenue, traffic, sales – everything takes time.

The graphic that kept coming to mind was this one from Visualize Value:

If we’re not continually putting in the work for a long enough period of time, we could give up before it starts working.

I could see, yesterday, the incredible amount of things that a company has to do in order to be successful. The difference between those companies and mine is that they have people to help with every single one of those jobs, whereas I’m responsible not just for the work, but the results of every single one…

Marketing, clients, sales, product, finances, growth, partnerships, etc – any two of those jobs would be enough to need another employee to hand off part of the work.

We solo-creatives don’t have that option.

This is especially hard when every part of our business is on the left side of “this is pointless” from that image.

That’s what it feels like to be doing all the work and not yet seeing the results.

The overwhelming feeling yesterday came from the clarity of seeing everything that still needed to be done while at the same time seeing the signs of success for the things I’d been doing for the last six months.

  • the email list has been growing day over day, independent of me publishing or sharing a link to sign up.
  • sales of the courses are occurring more per week than 4 months ago
  • partnerships are easier to create since I have more clout now than when I started back in April.

I’m not saying it’s all a breeze from here on out, but it’s nice to finally get a sign that things are headed in the right direction, rather than the feeling like “I’m working so hard, but for what?”

Two important takeaways:

  • Don’t avoid doing the important things you need to do in your business. Your business won’t grow on it’s own in the early months (maybe even years) without action on your part. No one else is going to do it for you.
  • Don’t give up. Most things work if you do the work. If you work on your marketing, improving your product or service, get better at sales calls, improve your website, create a budget – these things can take time to go from being a constraint to a strength in your business. Don’t give up before things start working. Keep going.

What’s one thing you can do today to improve your business?

If you need help answering that question you can work with me on getting your business to the next level.