When the Business Drops, Support it: An in-depth look at the mental health of Creators & Entrepreneurs.

screen-shot-2019-07-03-at-7-02-06-pmI have a business.

A pretty dope business.

I've been a creator since the age of 13 when I started communicating through poetry.

The concept of my business is 29 years old.

The execution of my business is about 2 years old.

I don't make money on my business. I get a sale here and there, but mostly, I get a lot of Instagram "likes."

Let's talk about that for a moment. Clicking the heart under a post of someone you follow, is literally the bare minimum of support you can offer. So it feels obligatory; NOT supportive. If you like what you see AND you want to see that business owner/creator succeed, here are three ways you can support using more than just your thumb and will cost you as little as $0:

1.) Share the post to your audience on your page where it won't disappear and has a greater chance of being seen by someone who may, at the least, be inspired to do something good. And of course it's advertising to potential customers.
Cost: $0

2.) Buy something. Anything. At regular, non hook-up prices. And then share it with your cyber friends and your friends in real life (cause if you buy it and no one knows and you never wear/display it... that again feels like obligatory support that isn't very beneficial to the person trying to grow a new business and get their work out to the people).
Cost: $1+ But the feeling of knowing the people you want to make proud support you is Priceless to the creator/entrepreneur.

3.) Tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend. Old school word-of-mouth advertising never fails.
Cost: $0

If you truly care about the person/business you are supporting, you can give more than just "likes."

I am guilty of comparing myself to other creators. I am guilty of having bittersweet feelings for the success of like-minded entrepreneurs. I am guilty of basing my self-worth on my idea of success. I am guilty of resenting the lack of support I often feel. I am guilty of walking the self-fulfilling prophecy line. I am guilty of giving up. I am guilty of calling myself a failure. I am guilty of trying to succeed professionally at the expense of my mental health.

I imagine creating any substantial body of work as an extension of self and with the desire of purposeful living, is much like being a parent. When that body of work fails or isn't well received, it feels like you have failed and aren't well received. When people don't love and support your work, it feels like they don't love and support you. Much as parents take on the pride when their children succeed, the blame when they fail, and everything that comes with the highs and lows in-between, the same is true for creators and entrepreneurs. And just as new moms deal with postpartum depression, there is an unspoken depression that happens in the beginning stages of building a business. The creative stage is like a pregnancy. Many highs in the creation process. A few lows. But mostly highs. No judgements, just creation. And then  you have to release that baby, that creation out into the world. Now it's subject to criticism, ridicule, failure. It's very easy to loose yourself in your work. And internalize how the world feels about your baby, with how it feels about you.

Here's what I know to be true about creators/entrepreneurs, including myself:

We don't sleep well. Even when we manage to sleep (cause a creator in the middle of a creation struggles with shutting off their thoughts, immensely). So we are already not in the space to respond to the world in our full selves. So if you have an entrepreneur in your life who is acting out of character, don't be so quick to judge and respond to the behavior. Give the person you know and love the benefit of the doubt. Hell, even if you don't know them, but you know the business is new, choose being Kind over being right or hurtful.

We value your honesty. Don't tell me everything I do is dope and then not buy anything. That's confusing and discouraging. Be honest. I have friends and family who, 90% of their wardrobe consists of dope ass tees and none of them are mine. Why? Tell me what you don't like. Tell me what doesn't work for you. Tell me the truth.

We consistently doubt ourselves. And many of us go deeper and begin to doubt our purpose. Sitting in that space too long has grave affects on mental stability. This is why many (probably all, but I can't definitively say that of course) entrepreneurs experience secret bouts of depression. I'm willing to bet 1 out of 3 of  your favorite creators is a functional depressive.

If we could work a 9-5 or trade job and not jump off of the tallest building while slitting our throats on the way down, we would. Now that's a bit graphic, but you get where I'm going with this. The thought of having to go back to Corporate America for the money brings about the darkest feelings. For a lot of us. Having to settle for an "adult" career to pay the bills can be spiritually exhausting. Especially when you see things working in favor of others. You start to take it personal. Suicidal thoughts can also creep in, because what is a life if you can not live your purpose.

The moral of THIS story, is: if you have a creator/entrepreneur in your life that you care about, take a more active role in supporting them. Don't be passive. Don't only offer feedback when they ask for it. Don't assume because they aren't talking about it, everything is ok. Ask about the business. Ask about THEM. Ask. And for the love of all things cerulean, please don't just be the person that does nothing more than "like" their post.

When the business drops, Support It!

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Filed under: Art & Culture

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