Make MoneyToday / Make Money Tomorrow

Balancing acts

I had the pleasure of getting out of the workshop briefly for a little human to human interaction the other day to drop some stuff off at my friend Stephanie's place for a photo shoot. We got to talking about some of the things she has in the works for the future. You have to understand, this is quite a list. Like a a lot of driven creatives Stephanie has a lot going on. Her two business (The Cleveland Flea and The Indie Foundry) keep her schedule full with planning events, organizing vendors, promoting the events, coming up with inspiration for new ideas, lots and lots of networking, and all the graphic design (and other ephemera) that going along with all of it. That is in addition to; traveling quite a bit, providing guidance to fledgling makers, being a cheerleader for anyone around her who is thinking about starting a business, being a Drum Major for many of us who have, running a pop up shop, and she just signed a lease on a new (or very old) building that she is going to run as a "creative clubhouse". One thing she said that stuck me at the time was, "Sometimes I have so much going on that I just have to focus on what I am doing this week."

That got me thinking about how I go about managing the precarious available-time/available-opportunity tightrope-walk that most of us in the creative community have to do every day. Sometimes it's really frustrating trying to figure out what to do with your day when a bunch of good opportunities are pulling you in several different directions.  What I have found helps me is a little system based around two simple questions, "What can I do to make money today?" and "What could I do to make money tomorrow?"

Make money today always takes priority. After all, today is what really counts. I don't want to look back at my life and think "Man, I had some really great ideas for the future".  So when I'm planning out my day I ask myself what opportunities are available today. For example: designing new things is fun. It's exciting to turn the great ideas in my head into physical things in my hands. Designing is important. I might come up with the next big thing and make it big. Who knows? But will designing a new product actually make me any money today. I already have plenty of things (maybe less glamorous) that I could be taking advantage of. I already have a strong product line. Am I making the most of it? How could I use what I've got right now to make a better living today. Could I try to get my products into more stores? Could I be working on developing traffic to my website? Would some better photographs lead to more sales? Could I build up my inventory so that I'll be ready when those orders come in?

This helps because it frees me from getting distracted by opportunities I might not be ready for. Laying a strong ground work for today will lead me to those plans for the future anyway. Another example: take that amazing thing I wanted to design in the previous paragraph. Had I focused on what I could do first (get in more stores, develop web traffic, take better photos) when I do finally develop that new product I'll be able to offer it to a much wider audience in a stronger way.

I'm not saying abandon the future. I have a giant notebook called "Make money tomorrow" that has all the ideas I wanted to pursue but didn't think I was ready for. When I'm ready to take the next step I have a great resource to draw from. It actually feels kind of liberating to take a really good idea that I might not have time for , write it down, and file it away, knowing that it will be there when I am ready for it.

Carpe diem, focus on one week at a time, make money today, call it what you want. The idea is always the same. The best course of action is frequently to capitalize on what you have right now and deal with the future tomorrow.