A lot of people in my network describe themselves as creatives.
I'm not really artistic or crafty or a “maker” in any sense (I can barely “make” microwave dinners), but I like pretty things, know my way around photoshop, and get paid for my photography and styling skills… so apparently I am creative.
Although much of what I do on a daily basis is “creative” I don't always think of myself that way.
You see, I started my career in finance – high net worth wealth management to be specific. Many people who meet me now are surprised because my day-to-day seems so different, but in reality I use the same business skills – I just leverage them in different ways.
Sometimes I wonder where I would be now if I had started down a more creative path earlier… would I be more confident in my creative abilities? Would I have a more impressive portfolio of work? Would I have more social media followers? Maybe.
It's easy to “what-if” the time away, but it's probably more important to acknowledge and be thankful for the path that has led me to where I am now. It if weren't for my career in finance, I wouldn't feel as confident about business skills that are ESSENTIAL to being a creative entrepreneur. Specifically….
As a financial advisor, one of the biggest parts of my professional education was sales training. Consultative selling to be specific. I spent years understanding why people buy things and how to sell to them by providing solutions to their problems. In the past decade I've sold everything from $100,000+ investments in long-short hedge funds to $10 costume jewelry, and while sales is not my favorite aspect of running a business, I get it, and I'm not scared of it.
I'm not sure how anyone really successfully runs a business without networking skills. Whether you're connecting with other brands / influencers online or in person, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and tell people what you do (in a non-annoying way). You never know when you will meet someone who is looking for someone just like you – or knows someone who is looking for someone like you. Almost every client, collaboration or referral I've gotten has been through networking! (P.S. – read the introverts' guide to networking)
Going from 0 clients to 100+ clients is no easy task – but it's definitely manageable if you have the right systems and team in place! My first job out of college was actually on the client service for a financial service practice – I managed my team's clients and trained teams to segment their business and implement scalable client service matrices. When I moved into sales/planning, I was grateful to have the experience on the service side because it helped me to better manage my own clients and create organized systems for on-boarding and regular communication. Over the years I've also worked with a wide variety of entrepreneurs – from billionaire real estate moguls to stay at home moms – but at the end of the day I think no matter who your clients are, they deserve the highest level of service.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Whether you're connecting with other brands / influencers online or in person, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and tell people what you do (in a non-annoying way).” quote=”Whether you're connecting with other brands / influencers online or in person, you need to be willing to put yourself out there and tell people what you do (in a non-annoying way).”]
I'm a huge data nerd, but starting my career in finance only made me love analytics even more. Whether I'm tracking stock performance or instagram engagement, I love uncovering the story behind the numbers and developing actionable insights. I think that tracking statistics and understanding analytics is key to knowing what's working (and what's not), so I'm glad that I don't hate the “numbers” part of running a business!
One of the most important things I learned during my previous career was goal-based financial planning. Not only because it's ESSENTIAL to being like a real adult, but because the concept of goal-based planning is so transferable to any business! I get preachy when it comes to goal setting because I know how incredibly effective it is. But you can try to grow your business OR you can set specific goals and map out a plan of action to achieve them. Hint: stop trying, start doing.
So What's the Point?
The point is, just because you started in one career and then decided to change directions, that doesn't mean you have to start over completely or are “behind” everyone else who started down that path earlier. Sometimes I wish someone had told me that sooner. Whatever you have done that has led you to where you are today wasn't a waste of time.
And just because I feel like this post has sounded a little like a humble brag, I'll happily admit I'm mostly clueless when it comes to the legal side of business and while I'm ok at tech stuff, I still ask my husband for help (almost) every single day!
If you've switching careers, what skills from your previous business have transferred to your new career?
Elle, I stumbled upon your blog today and I would like to say I’m obsessed with your blog. Love your content, your elegant and feminine design and the awesome freebies! I like graphic design and writing but I’m going to study accounting degree. I thought both will be unrelated but after reading you post, I think the business and analytical skill which I will learn from accounting can help me to build my creative business in future. I’m so glad to read this post! Thank you. :)
Thank you so much!! I definitely feel like accounting is a useful skill that will help you in the future no matter what you end up doing!
I’ve switched my profession from an accountant to DIY design and marketing for creatives. I used to work for a book publishing company and other retail corporate offices. The jump was scary, but I’ve also been able to take my analysis skill set and apply it to my business. It has helped me test many different things. Also, I own a beauty bridal business. Growing this business has been a journey, but again my corporate career has helped me with the business side of things tremendously.
It’s funny how many people see the negative aspects of working for someone else (that was me at first). It didn’t take me long to pay attention to those meetings everyone dreaded then go and apply those same strategies to both of my business.
Thank you for such a great post. It was definitely relatable. While I’m just starting this new life/journey, it’s comforting to know others are here and from similar industries.