“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol
“What the heck is this thing going to be?” I thought as I hung up on our initial FreedomSoft team meeting phone conference.
FreedomSoft was to become the #1, go-to, real estate investing software in the world. The only problem was it didn’t specifically exist yet, and we had no idea what it should or could be. We only knew it was going to happen. We were going to make it happen.
I had ended the conversation with these imparting words of wisdom: “Guys, I have no clue what this thing is going to look like when it’s done. But I do know it’s going to be awesome, and it’s also going to be the biggest online product launch in history.”
How could I make such bold claims when really I had no clue what the heck I was doing?
Well for one thing, this wasn’t my first barbeque. The more stuff you create and sell successfully the bolder you can become. But also I had experience with the entrepreneurial-artistic process. I knew that by taking small blind steps, the vision would become clearer and clearer as we proceeded.
We simply had to trust the process and get it going.
One year later we had the most cutting edge real estate investing software platform up and running with thousands of users paying anywhere from $97 to $297 a month, $3.7 million dollars in the bank, and $10,000,000 booked for the year. It was the biggest one-week online product launch in history.
So how did we do it? How did we take something from an idea in our heads and bring it into reality — the very definition of art.
Here’s the process …
1. Come up with an amazing idea. In this case, we were in the pursuit of our goals in real estate when someone approached us with this idea. This type of thing will happen to you as you actively pursue your dream. It will just happen. No need to force it. Just get busy and let “the universe” bring it to you.
This has happened to me more times than I can count. One of the best ways to come up with good business ideas is to take note of the things that bug you most in life. In our case it was lack of a good, user-friendly software system to manage our real estate business.
2. Take immediate action. In our case, all I had to do was hear it and I was like “Yep – we’re doing that. Let’s meet next week and get started.” Be bold. Act now — think later. You can always back out.
“Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.” – Mason Cooley
3. Brainstorm ideas. Take the name “FreedomSoft” for instance. You know how many names we had to write down before that came out? Hundreds. Just start writing, and don’t censor yourself. Write whatever comes to your head. When what’s supposed to be presents itself to you, you will know.
4. Plow through the inevitable “this sucks horribly” period. There will be a span of time during the creative process where things aren’t going right, ideas don’t work, nothing is clear, and work is not fun. Keep going. This is what separates the men from the boys.
5. Don’t be discouraged by meetings that don’t seem to accomplish anything and you’re left just as confused as you were when you got on them. You have to learn to trust that what’s supposed to happen is going to happen. Just keep moving forward knowing that something spectacular is in the works.
Admittedly this is really challenging. Not knowing exactly what you’re doing, but knowing you have to produce something great can be nerve racking. But that’s why we get paid the big bucks. If it was easy …
6. Tell the whole world something amesome is coming. This will both build anticipation and force you to make something awesome come.
7. Learn to accept the pain of The Blank Page. The Blank Page feels like dying because that is precisely what you have to do to allow God’s creative energy to flow through you into the world. The price of art is death. Be prepared to pay it or go do something else.
8. Assemble a team around you to do the things you’re not good at. I don’t know anything about computer programming so I brought on partners who could manage the programmers. I’m not good with numbers so I brought in a CFO to count those for us. Etc. I restricted my efforts to what I’m good at … marketing.
9. Always be thinking to yourself, “how can I make this company/product/event different, more exciting, and better than anything else out there? How can we stand out and get people to take notice?”
10. Don’t stop until the money is in the bank. There is not one project I have ever begun that I have not finished. Be a finisher.
Understand that you are an artist. I don’t care what you do – from home investors to homemakers … you are creators. You come up with ideas and turn them into reality.
Where do you think those ideas come from by the way? Have you ever stopped to think about that? An idea pops into your head — how did that happen? My friend, that is nothing short of a divine experience. You are acting in the image of God who “calls into being that which does not exist.” Why else do you think you get so much satisfaction observing your work? You are never more like God than when you are creating things.
“Preston, I am not a creative person,” you say.
You are believing a lie. I believed that garbage for years. I heard that thought whispered in my head countless times — “I’m not creative.” I would hear it as if someone was speaking it out loud. It took a long time to surprise myself with the truth that, not only was I creative, I was extraordinarily creative.
Let me dispel that myth for you now: You are creative. And you are going to begin surprising yourself with your creativity just the same way I did.
Make some YouTube videos.
Take singing or music lessons.
Start a business on the side if you’re still in the rat race.
Get the creative juices flowing. If you’re not creating, you’re not living!
“Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” – Galatians 6:5
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