Will Structure Stifle My Creativity?

Creativity is mostly about freely expressing yourself! If you’re in a business that allows you to be creative, this is the best example of doing what you love – that gives you significant potential to grow your business. However, a growing or big business needs structure. If you’re afraid that a structure might actually stifle your business, watch the video and discover how you can manage your business and express your creative juices simultaneously!

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Una Doyle. I’m the founder of CreativeFlow.tv, and I help creative business owners such as photographers, filmmakers, designers, web developers, people like that who work with their heads in the clouds all day for a living. And I help them to get paid better, to grow their businesses, to grow their teams, and to have lots of fun while doing so.

Because it’s all about working with your natural strengths and abilities, today’s show is all about, will structure stifle my creativity? This is something that I get from a lot of creatives when they’re considering working with me or we’re just talking about what they need to do in order to grow their business and achieve their ambitions and they life they wanna have.

And the thing is, I know about this from very personal experience. When I first set up a business, I originally set up as a life coach, and, yeah, it was really interesting because I had, like, some great successes. I spoke at ASDA’s HQ to over 2000 people, I was paid to speak at conferences, I got interviewed on radio and TV about the work I was doing with people to help them to grow their confidence and their self-esteem, but the thing is is that, behind the scenes, things were very feast and famine for me. And I would have loads of ideas, ’cause I’m like you, I’m a creative person. I’m an actor as well as being a business coach. When something didn’t work, I would just go, “That’s okay, I’ve got 10 more ideas.” I would just move on to the next idea.

I had absolutely no structure about my time, and didn’t pay very much attention to my finances either, frankly. And the thing is is that, in learning to address those things, that is what has helped to really transform my results, and to give me a business that I’m using in line with the way that I work.

So now, I am way more focused. Now I follow through on something and I stick to it, and it’s a lot easier to do that because rather than getting distracted by, ooh, look, there’s a shiny, ooh, yeah, there’s another shiny new object. Oh, God, there’s all these things that I could do. I’ll do all of them! No, no, no, you’ve gotta focus, and then that means when you do the things that are right for you, you can actually follow through on them and see them through to the end and get into a cycle of doing the things that work over and over again. ‘Cause that was another thing, another mistake that I made was I would do something that worked, and then I’d never repeat it because, as a creative person, I always wanted to be, well, what’s new? What else can I do? That doesn’t actually necessarily help your business.

So in terms of creativity, this is one of the interesting things as well is that, if you’re on this feast and famine cycle, or if maybe you’re trying to grow a team, but you haven’t quite got enough money coming in, or you’re finding it hard to attract the right people, the answer is probably a lack of structure.

And the great thing is is when you structure things properly, that actually gives you the freedom to be more creative, not less. I always say structure will set you free.

So, what is it that stops people embracing creativity, embracing structure around their creativity and their creative businesses? I actually think a lot of it comes down to some fears.

So, one fear is, oh my God, if I have structure in the way that I operate, then that’s gonna, like, really, it’s gonna be like wearing a straightjacket. I won’t be able to be myself, I won’t be able to do my best work. So that is one fear that I think stops people. And the thing is, it’s about having the right kind of structure, and the right amount of structure. I call it the Goldilocks amount of structure. Not too much, not too little. And that enables you to run a successful creative business. Yes, absolutely, structure will set you free. It does sound like it can’t possibly be true. But personally and for my clients, they absolutely have found it to be true.

And like, let me give you an example. A client that I worked with who is in music production, and he said that, “when we worked on some of the structure around his business, that he actually felt more creative, because he was able to totally immerse himself in his creativity because he didn’t have all these niggles popping into his head of, oh, I must remember to do this, and, oh yeah, I’ve got such and such to do, and I must tell so and so about that. Oh, yeah, I got those emails I need to answer. He didn’t have that happening because things were a bit more organised and structured, and so when he did spend time on his creativity, which was planned into his diary, and you can do that in a flexible way. I know a lot of you will be responding to clients when you’re doing creative services. But there are ways that you can structure your time to really make that work for you.

I wanna talk as well, though, about two other fears that actually I think come into play as well. And we’re going deeper here, so get ready to dive in, because, and I want you to be honest with yourself, ’cause it’s really easy to kinda gloss over things, and if you do that, then nothing is gonna change, and if you want your creative business to be more successful, then something needs to change, and your business is never gonna grow beyond you as a business owner. Just let that sink in for a moment.

So, what are these other fears? Well, I think one of them is that the fear of, well, what if I get structured, what if I get really focused, and so I have this one area that I’m going to focus on. What if it doesn’t work? And I think the idea of having kind of 5 to 10 different things going on all at once, and I’m not talking about client projects here, but I’m talking about potential businesses, or businesses that might actually be going. But where your energy’s being spread too thin, and you don’t actually really get to make any of them work properly, that they kinda just tick along, but nothing ever really gets to take off. And so, it’s like a safety net that just going, well, I’m not going to structure, I’m not going to focus, then, well, I don’t have to be worried about failing because I’m never actually putting all my eggs in one basket. Now, I don’t think there are certain risks that are good to take, and there are other risks that aren’t, and so there obviously has to be a bit of discrimination and thought about how you do that.

So I’m not suggesting that, for instance, you leave your job with no savings and expect to be earning enough to live off in a few weeks. The chances of that happening are pretty slim. So, you’ve gotta do things in the right way. But if you already have a load of projects going on, and you’re earning a bit from this, and a bit from that, and a bit from this, and it might even be that you have a few different niches within your one business, but you’re not actually going all in on one of them. Trust me, your clients will feel that, and that will make them less likely to wanna work with you. So, consider that. Are you kind of,  having this safety net because you think that is actually working better for you? Think about it, is it actually working or isn’t it?

So then the other fear is what if it works? That might sound weird, another paradoxical thing for you. It’s that if it works, things are gonna change. Maybe you might be worried about people around you not liking the fact that you are more successful than they. You might have friends or family that, in their best kinda loving way for you, don’t want you to change, and don’t want you to maybe kind of move away from them in some way. Or maybe they just think, you’re taking away my excuses. If you become successful and we come from the same place and the same environment, then what excuse have I got?

So there’s a whole lot of reasons why the people around you might not be so happy with this, but I’ve gotta ask you, are you happy with the results you’re getting? And if you’re not, then you’ve gotta do something differently. And actually, if you want things to work, then you are gonna have such a positive impact on so many people in your domain, then that could be even life changing for people. Who knows, you could end up employing people, changing loads of people’s lives around the world. I don’t know what your dreams are, but I know that if you keep your gifts to yourself, they’re not truly gifts. They’re only gifts when you give them to other people. Have a think about those two things.

And I just really wanted to say, in terms of what structure tends to work with myself and with the people that I’m working with is making sure you have some sort of structure around your time. So I work with clients to put in place what I call a weekly flow framework. And it’s flexible, ’cause not every week is the same. I know that, I experience that too. But if you have something in place that you can then kind of fudge around a bit, then that allows you to spend time in all the important areas of your business.

And obviously, importantly, a big part of that has got to be you being your creative self and getting to express who you are and getting to do your best work. You want to have some sort of structure and focus in your marketing and the way that you’re actually running your business, and how you prioritise, how you strategize, how you manage your tasks, and all of that. And the thing is is that actually will free you up because when you get to attract high-quality clients, then that allows you to have the money and the resources to be able to do your best work, and then to be able to work that you’ll be proud of.

And, of course, money as well. You know, me not paying attention to money meant I ended up in a bit of a mess. And so, I now have learned not to do that, and I keep track of things. And also, if you don’t have a really clear focus on what you’re looking to achieve, and if you’re not looking after your money, any money that comes your way is probably going to be either just kinda disappear, or it’s going to pay these things you haven’t looked after, rather than actually going to pay for the things that you really want in your life.

Now, whether that’s a better home, or a better car, or more holidays, or you wanna be able to be that free whatever it is that you want. And when you work right with the Goldilocks amount of structure, then you get to create a rhythm for all of this, and this really enhances your creative flow.

I just wanna share with you, I looked up a quote earlier that I thought was very powerful, and it’s by Jim Collins, and he’s written, in fact, I’ve got several of his books here. I won’t root for them now, but he wrote Built to Last, and Good to Great, and some really great books around how to grow your business. And he said, “Discipline should amplify creativity “rather than stifle it,” and in a way, structure does require a little bit of discipline. But if you actually look at all the top creators around the world, they are disciplined. Yes, they are highly creative, and they are discipline. And in fact, this is one of the things that is definitely true for creative people is that they can be paradoxical. They can be disciplined and creative at the same time, whereas most people think that you can’t do that.

So, we have the ability to be able to consider different ideas and different opinions. And if you don’t believe me, get the book Creativity and Flow. And no, I can’t see it there, so I can’t hold it up to you. And it’d be backwards anyway ’cause of Facebook’s camera. So, Creativity and Flow, and go and read that and you will see all the different kinds of creative people around the world who actually have been very disciplined in their approach, and that has got them the results they want.

So I believe the answer is no, structure won’t stifle your creativity. You’ve gotta come to your own conclusion, and I think it’s something worth thinking about. You deserve to take some time to have a think about that, and to have a look at what is going on in your life and business, and is it getting you the results that you want.

So if you’ve enjoyed this, and you’ve got value from it, please comment, let me know your questions. I’m just looking at the time who’s in the comments. I will come back. I’ll get a little notification, and I will come back, and I will answer it later for you.

And also, if you would like to talk more about what we’ve been talking about today or any of the other topics in the other shows, this is on every Wednesday, by the way, 4:30 pm GMT, and 11:30 am EST. Either let me know what you would like to cover. Comment on this, share it out. But if you wanna talk for yourself about your own business, then I’ve popped a link into the first comment, and you can just book a free introductory call with me. There’s no obligation. It’s just a 15 minute chat so we can see. And I guarantee you, from that, you’re gonna come away with at least one strategy, tip, or insight to help you with what your single biggest challenge is with your creative business right now. Okay, I’m gonna head off now. It’s been lovely chatting with you today. I can’t wait to see you again next week. Remember, have a fantastic week and enjoy your creative flow. Bye!

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Una Doyle

About the Author

Una Doyle

Una is a Business Coach & Strategist for Creative Services Providers (Design, Animation, Marketing/Digital Agencies, etc.). She helps them to stand out from the crowd confidently & profitably so they can attract high-level, 'Ready to Invest' clients, doing creative work that fills their hearts with pride - WITHOUT selling their soul or adding extra workload.

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