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Last week I braved London. The moment I heard Elizabeth Gilbert was headed to the UK, I knew I had to be there.

I don’t even care that what should have been a 3 hour round trip, ended up being 8. So worth it.

I’ve read a few of her books (namely Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things), but that’s not why I was so excited to see her. Elizabeth Gilbert recently (ish) released a book called Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear and (in a nutshell) it’s a fabulous ode to creative thinking, and learning to live a life you love.

I’ve been in serious biz planning mode recently, and as I sat and listened to this amazing lady speak, I realised how many of her lessons can be applied to entrepreneurship.

Today I thought I’d share a few of Elizabeth Gilbert’s wise words, and how I think they can be applied to growing a creative business:

Fairies + pragmatism

Running a creative business requires some serious common sense. And also some serious creative play time. You don’t have to pigeon hole yourself (ignore the branding experts that say you do) – you can be woo woo and sensible.

I hate hearing people say “I’m a creative so I’m no good at xxx.” or “I can’t do xxx, I’m not creative.”

You can dance around with daisies in your hair AND rock your spreadsheets. Who’s going to stop you?

Not all ideas are meant for you

Do not hoard inspiration. That’s the biggest tip I can give any online personality. Sharing ideas freely, rakes in the followers.

Elizabeth Gilbert describes ideas as living beings, floating around looking for a human to help them get further. An idea may stay with you for a while, but then see a better match walk by – kind of like a boyfriend…

You don’t own ideas. Don’t feel bitter if you see someone do something similar to one of your offerings. Don’t hate the competition.

Accept that you will get to keep hold of the ideas that are meant for you, but not all of them are.

Choose your critics wisely

Surround yourself with a little tribe of people you trust your darlings with… but be selective.

Filter out the people that will only cause you damage by answering these questions:

  • Do they have your best interest at heart?
  • Do they know what you were trying to achieve in the first place?
  • Is it too late for you to do something with their opinion? (i.e. if you’ve already published your book, you can’t exactly change the section they don’t love!)
  • Do they advertise themselves as “brutally honest”?

Never go to “brutal” people for support.

If you stay around longer than everyone else, you automatically win.

As entrepreneurs, we play the long game.

Quick wins are awesome with regards to creating content, ticking things of your to-do list, or automating aspects of your business.

BUT the business itself is not a quick mover. We have to put in the time, the tears, the fears and the tantrums. Getting through it all and STILL making the effort day after day, that’s a win. That, in itself, is a sign of success.

When you see all of these online personalities hitting the big time in a matter of weeks, you’re not looking properly. 99% of the time, they’ve been slogging away in obscurity for months, years, decades… what you’re seeing is the result of staying in the race.

We all have missing pieces, it’s up to us to find them ourselves.

Nobody can fully equip us for life or business. Not our parents, not our school teachers, not our old bosses, not our other halves.

They do the best they can. They provide us with the knowledge and experience they have, but that’s all.

It’s up to you to fill the gaps. Take online workshops or e-courses. Get in touch with the experts. Go to seminars and conferences. Find a mentor. Join a mastermind group. Read an inspiring book.

Really narrow down what you think you need to learn, then get the hell out there and learn it.

Eat your shit sandwich.

Nothing is perfect. Every career path and lifestyle choice comes with a negative side effect or two. A shit sandwich, if you will.

Don’t give up on something that you’ve been dreaming of, just because you discover it’s not all shimmery and wonderful.

Your job is to find something you love SO much, that you don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes along with it.

Save the guilt for killing.

Something that seems to come hand-in-hand with running a creative business (or any business, actually) is guilt.

We seem to take responsibility for EVERYTHING, whether it’s our fault or not.

If we spend an evening working on our websites instead of watching a movie with the hubby… GUILT.

If we don’t go out for a friend’s birthday because we’re saving up for some biz coaching… GUILT.

If we don’t make as much as we did at the day job… GUILT.

If we get to enjoy our jobs, while our loved ones don’t… GUILT.

How about we park it, and save the guilt for when we really need it. Like if we kill someone.

Become a scientist of your own experience

Live curiously. Ask questions of yourself, and try to find the answers. Experiment with the way you run your business. Play around with different tools, systems and ideas. Find out what works for you.

You should *absolutely* be enjoying the running of your own business (that’s why you quit the daily grind, is it not?) Investigate the things that could make your life (and your business) more productive, more interesting, or (dare I say it?) more fun!

What are you willing to give up to live the life you keep saying you want?

In the online business world, we talk a lot about letting go of the things we don’t want to do. We embrace the concept of outsourcing, and abandoning the tasks that don’t make us sing.

But the total honest truth is this – to get where we want to be, we have to make sacrifices.

What are you willing to sacrifice, to get your business to where you want it to be? I’m not talking about the things that you don’t mind not doing – I mean the things you’d LOVE to be doing right now.

  • Would you put down that novel, and pick up a content marketing guide?
  • Would you let your hubby take your kids to the beach, so you can run a webinar?
  • Would you take those oh-so-perfect, butt-hugging jeans back to the store, and spend that money on your VA?

We’re back to shit-sandwich-ville again – biz ownership isn’t all a big slice of strawberry gateau. Sometimes it can be a crapfest. BUT it will be worth it in the end, that’s a promise.

Like I said at the beginning, seeing Elizabeth Gilbert speak in person was phenomenal. She was so inspiring, so insightful and so, so funny. To get a taster for yourself, grab a copy of the book I mentioned, or have a listen of her podcast, Magic Lessons.

What’s the best creative business tip you’ve ever been given?