Dude, Where’s My Motivation?

So, if it wasn’t obvious from reading between the lines, I am at somewhat of a crossroads with life, in particular, business life.

As well as working full time at subtitling HQ, 40 – 50 hours a week, 10 hour shifts and weekends included, I’m running two businesses and trying to keep multiple other plates spinning, quite aside from all the other stuff like being a wife, friend, daughter, sister, etc.

So, when my best friend asked me last week, “Why are you doing all this? What is driving you to go on with working every single minute of the day?” I was at a loss to answer her. I thought the answer would have come straight to me without having to think but I’ve been thinking for over a week now and still haven’t come up with one (luckily, she’s gone on honeymoon for 2 weeks, so I still have plenty of time to find one).

What drives me to put literally my all into my business? What drives me to put it above almost everything else in life?

Is it the money? No, it’s not the money. Although I made a healthy profit last year, I have a full time job which pays very reasonably. I’ve just been promoted and I’m now earning more per year than I ever have before. I certainly wont be missing any meals, so although the extra few pounds the business brings me each month is nice, it wouldn’t be missed desperately (most of it goes straight back into the business anyway).

Is it for my love of creating things? Well, no, it’s not that either. Whilst I do enjoy creating things, I don’t really have the same love of it at the moment as I did at the start. That is to be expected after almost 7 years of it, I’d say. As the business has expanded, it’s been necessary to take on extra hands, too, so often times I am merely assembling work someone else has done for me, finishing it off and packing and distributing it.  At the busiest times, I am co-ordinating my 5 or 6 sub-contractors and making up the more elaborate pieces myself, leaving me little or no time for real creating, or designing new pieces or getting the 800 ideas in my head.

Is it with the aim of giving up the day job? Well, it was, but it’s not any more. Now I’ve been promoted and doing a more challenging job which pays me very well, I’d be utterly out of my mind to leave it now. Although money is not the be all and end all, it’s important to me, personally, that I can live comfortably, buy those new shoes, take those holidays, without worrying too much. I’m also slightly more conscious of our “live in the now” attitude chez Brown and that we should think about our future at some point, which I don’t feel I can do relying solely on my self-employed income. Also, I am enjoying the day job and am lucky to have one in the current climate.

So, what is my motivation? I don’t know. I do know that I’ve spent almost 7 years on building a brand, a name, a reputation, contributing to the crafty community both in Glasgow and the UK as a whole, building up a rather hefty customer base, racking up the Twitter posts, the products, the bon mots and the feedback.  But I need a break.  Of undetermined duration. Is it forever? Is it a few months? I know I can’t go through another Christmas period like last year, where I was averaging about 3 hours sleep a night and having kittens every time I opened my email to another 100 emails asking where their order was. So what do I do now?

Do I give it up entirely? I don’t feel comfortable with dropping everything I’ve worked for like a hot potato. I couldn’t do that. Do I scale it right back? It’s an option. So is selling the business (how does one value something like that?) and so is taking on an employee to run it for me until I decide long term. There have been several good suggestions to come from friends but I still don’t know what the solution is. Maybe that’s because I still haven’t figured out what the answer to the original question is – “What is driving you on?”.

Answers on a postcard please…


10 thoughts on “Dude, Where’s My Motivation?

  1. interesting post love. though i don’t think i work nearly as much as you (40 hours in the office a week & a minimum of 10 hours self-employed, though the way i work differs from you), i sometimes wonder why it is, outside of my day-job, i often go home & work some more. though my day-job pay is by no means amazing (i work in the arts!), it’s not for the extra money (nice as that is). if i didn’t draw i would just feel like something was missing – i love creating. nothing else gives me the same joy, & it’s reassuring to know that.

    i’m glad you’re taking time to consider your options, rather than madly ploughing through. it’s very clear you’re an incredibly hardworking person, i was so pleased to hear about your promotion because you deserved it! whether it’s scaling back & making time for a craft that’s for you, for fun, or whether you change things altogether, i hope you figure out what works best for you. your honesty on the subject was refreshing too.

  2. Ello,
    Sounds to me like you need to set some goals. That’ll help you make a decision one way or the other. It’s clear that the day job is keeping you in money and happy, so I can understand that this would lead you to question the motivation for all the craftiness. Perhaps a period of evaluation is necessary to remember what motivated you to get into it in the first place. 🙂

    I’m likely to be coming up to Glasgow in the next couple of months, so I’ll be available for a meal and a chat about such matters. 🙂

  3. I’m not a crafty business person, but wow, it does seem like you have so much on your plate. I think it sounds like you need to assess what you really love doing, what makes you happy and what is vital to your life – then scrap the rest. Whether that means doing your business full time, or committing to work full time, or coming to a better balance of both, I don’t know what the answer is.

    I guess the question is – what is that you do for fun, or just for you?

    (I know that my comments might seem a bit dream landy, like money doesn’t matter, but of course it does!)

    All the best

    Briony x

  4. I know how you feel Ms Moosh! As well as working full time at a job I hate, studying full time, which I love but find very draining, I’ve got to find time to make my jewellery and organise my craft fairs. And I don’t have anywhere near the customer base you do! I think we all have moments like this, when we need to sort out our priorities, and something has to give. If you take some time to think about what’s important to you, you’ll be able to sort it all out. Take it easy missus.

  5. I think that it is very honest of you to discuss this so openly as I think it is a subject close to many people’s hearts.

    As you know I have been reappraising my self-employment. Whilst it has its benefits (mainly in my case that it allows me to be flexible as a mother) the burdens of being freelance are really starting to wear. Unpaid invoices, people expecting you to work for free because you know its only making stuff or writing about stuff. I could go on…

    Anyway I do not think there is any shame in wanting to have a happy and comfortable life and if you can achieve that through your new job then go for it. I appreciate it is really hard to give up on something you have worked so hard on over the last 7 years but sometimes it is time to move on. No-one can ever take away everything you have achieved. I always like to think that everything we do in life is part of a journey but we don’t always travel in a straight line!

    That said I don’t think I would be able to do it either. If it was me I’d probably seriously consider taking someone on to run the business. Give yourself a break for a while. Its very easy to lose your enthusiasm for something when it becomes a chore.

    Good luck xx

  6. Wow, that post was good reading, I hope you find a way to resolve everything as neatly as you manged to sum it up! Okay, so that sounds flippant but I do mean it in the best possible way, I hope the right solution presents itself without too much soul-searching and dead-end research eating into your valuable time. And you do write wonderfully well, too.

    I have another option to throw into the mix, based on the way that two of my favourite small businesses work. I’m hugely inspired by Erin, from HauntSoaps.com, and the way she has created a good work-life balance where she can fit her own full-time job of caring for her disabled son around following her other great passion, creating amazing bath and body products. She beavers away in the background on packaging, new lines and product development throughout the year, with two or three crazy periods of being ‘open for business’ for a week or so, where she can hire in support and do all the boxing up, handling of emails and post office runs. Katie from MadeByHank works in a similar but different ‘batch-style’ way, releasing mini-collections on approximately a 6 weekly basis. Both have an established customer base and certainly Erin has a few retail partners to keep things ticking over on a wholesale basis.

    I’m looking at moving to working in a similar way over the next year or two. Now I have Amelia I can’t continue to put in all the hours for minimal financial return while I ‘build my brand’ when I actually have no intention of quitting my day job and being a full-time crafter. It’s going to have to be a lot more flexible (and it’s already pretty flexible) to fit around the job I do to keep a roof over my head, and still allow for something of a life with friends and family, while managing all the childcare issues and childhood illnesses that are in the post for the next 5-10 years.

    It feels like the wider craft scene is changing again from how its built up from the fringes to the mainstream in the past 5 years, and it’ll be interesting to see what all of us come up with next.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this all day, but I’m still not sure I can put it into a cohesive, logical reply, but I’ll try.

    I think the first thing is that, whatever it is keeping you going, there’s something. There’s still a spark, though it may be a bit tired. If you didn’t have something in you that needed to keep going, you’d know, and that hot potato would be gone before you know it. But you won’t know what the spark is while you’re still drudging with the day-to-day. Don’t worry about what your motivation is now, think about it when you’ve had a few weeks or months not doing it. Do you still want to do it? What is it that you miss? Is that thing entirely related to Miso Funky, and make you want to continue with that, or does it need a new outlet? It could be anything – the community, the money, the trips to the post office…!

    Secondly, on a similar but not-entirely-connected theme, have you ever read The E-Myth Revisited? If not, I recommend it. There’s a summary at http://www.superbcoaching.com.au/Books/Summaries/The%20E-Myth%20Revisited.htm I found it most useful for a bit of distance from the day-to-day, a bit of planning and to remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    Thirdly (and lastly!) the option that stands out most to me reading your post is about getting an employee, but my fear about getting to the employee stage (in, I think, direct contradiction to everything I read in the E-myth!) is that the business of being an employer might be even more draining and boring that the business of running a business. I think I’m just saying that if you do go down that route, make sure it’s for the right reason (definitely wanting to expand) and not just because something in you needs to hold onto the business at whatever cost. Rework, by Jason Fried, is quite a good read too, about making sure you’re doing what you love because you love it, not just because it feels like the next inevitable step.

    Whatever you do, good luck, and always remember that you’ve had this success, so there’s never anything to stop you having more!

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