How Long Till You’re Not Broke Anymore?
I've got two options for you.
Oh, okay. It’s going to be one of those conversations, is it? No small talk. No “Hey Clare, how’s it going?”
No “So how did your mulled cheese experiment work out?” We’re going straight to the big questions. Specifically:
“How long till I’m not broke anymore?”
Ah. One of the difficult ones. I can understand why you’re thinking about this. It’s December, after all. If you’re an artist who uses social media, it’s highly likely your timeline is stuffed with other creative types banging on about the HUNDREDS of orders they’ve received, and how they’re going to need a TRUCK to take it all to the post office and they’re just so THANKFUL, they really are.
If you’re the one who needs the truck, great. Enjoy your celebratory egg-nog.
If not, you should probably have some egg-nog too. Can I tempt you to a slice of mulled cheese? I’ll just leave it here on the table.
The end of the year is often when we feel the gap between where we are and where we want to be most acutely. You made it to the end of the calendar. Another cycle is about to begin. Everything you haven’t done and haven’t got feels like a big hole. It hurts when the wind blows through it.
If that’s the case for you, the way I see it you’ve got two choices. Here’s option A:
You can do everything you can to forget about that big hole.
Throw some chipolatas and a Terry’s chocolate orange down it. Turn up A Muppet Christmas Carol really loud so you can’t hear the wind whistling through. Pour yourself a big glass of Oh-It’ll-Be-Alright and find someone to snog under the mistletoe.
Attractive options all, I’d say. Especially when compared to option B, which is:
You’ll stop being broke when you stop ignoring the hole and start doing something about it. Assiduously and consistently. Despite how uncomfortable it might make you feel. Like it’s your job.
Now I’ll admit that option B has a bit of an image problem. Option A is easy and fun. There are are pork products and a blue furry Charles Dickens. Everything about option A is designed to make you feel good right this second. It’s comforting and safe. Heaven knows creative people need a little of that in their lives.
Compared to this garden of delights, option B has all the poetry and charm of an unexpected tax demand.
No snogging. No sausages. Just you taking lots of small, probably repetitive, possibly boring actions. On a daily basis. Whether you feel like it or not. For the forseeable future.
Finding potential stockists. Sending submissions. Putting your prices up. Reducing your overheads. Whatever those actions are for you, it’s probably not going to be a high-octane thrill ride. And option B doesn’t help you forget about the big hole. If anything, it makes you stand right on the edge of it.
The hole, after all, is the reason you’re doing all these things that you’d rather not do. There’s no escaping the discomfort it causes you.
But here’s where it gets good.
Although option B won’t make you feel good right now, it’ll almost certainly make you feel amazing in the future.
If you stick with it, that is.
When you choose option A, you’re basically saying:
“My business isn’t making enough money. I’m always broke. I hate feeling like this. I’m going to take my mind off this bad feeling for a little while by doing something enjoyable. Oh heyyyyyyy, mince pie flavoured vodka shots.”
When you choose option B you’re saying:
“Okay. My business isn’t making enough money. I’m always broke. I hate feeling like this, so I’m going to take that bad feeling and turn it into lots of small, concrete actions. I’m going to carry out those actions every damn day – even when I don’t want to. I’m doing this because I’ve got good reasons to believe it’ll help me get from [place I am now] to [place I want to be.]
I’ll know when I’ve arrived at [place I want to be] because of [evidence of concrete actions.]
And when I get there, I swear my first act will be to order A VERY LARGE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE WITH A SPARKLER IN IT”
When you get right down to it, option A only ever works for a little while. Yep, it takes the edge off but ultimately you’ve still got the same problem. You’re still broke. The hole’s still there. Nothing’s changed.
Option B offers real change, even if it’s only by tiny degrees.
Yeah, it might not feel wonderful while you’re doing it, but that’s okay because when you finally arrive the overwhelming sense of relief and achievement, plus the tangible benefits, will be worth it. And it doesn’t have to be an endless slog. If you’re smart about it, you’ll always know how much further there is to go.
Plus, you’re allowed to have off days.
If you’re diligently dedicating yourself to option B as you work on your business through the week, you’ve got a perfect right to kick the hell out of option A at the weekend – or any time you choose. You’re the boss.
So, you want to know when you’ll start making some proper money from wholesale? It’s when you decide you’re ready to make it happen – and follow that decision up with action.
For now, though, I’m wishing you a peaceful, comfortable, option A kind of holiday, full of twinkly lights, lovely surprises and all the bread sauce you could wish for.
Hello, I'm Clare Holliday. I'm a shopkeeper who's helped thousands of creative people sell their work to stores, galleries and regular customers all over the world. Now it's your turn.