Hitting the big time–it’s one of those ever-present, pie-in-the-sky, knight-in-shining armor desires that even the most practical of creative entrepreneurs will admit they fantasize about fairly regularly. Somehow being creative and wanting to be the NEXT BIG THING, a fast-growing company, smashing the charts, gracing the best seller list…just go hand-in-hand. Most of us know the feeling of wanting that kind of success but never quite achieving it. For others it’s a fleeting moment in time.
So what happens when the dream of going BIG actually manifests? Is it simply smooth sailing from there? I wrote last week in Mega-Corporations Jump on the Buy Local Bandwagon about the trend for big business to cull the successful marketing campaigns of creative independent entrepreneurs. The attention often catapults the individual and their ideas into the realm of big. I was wondering how this was affecting the folks involved and if hitting the “big time” was really a series of seductions and compromises that ultimately sullies the original concept.
Cinda Baxter of The 3/50 Project eloquently responded that she has had nothing but positive experiences partnering with American Express. My cynicism put aside for a moment, another question popped up–What now? What sustainability issues do independents/creatives have when they suddenly go BIG? How do individuals and small companies adjust to the expectations of following one phenomenal success with another and another?
Lots of folks have talked about the pitfalls of that sudden shift, one memorable example being Elizabeth Gilbert’s open discussion about the doubts she experienced after what she calls her “freakish success” with the book Eat, Pray, Love:
Gilbert’s “just keep showing up” philosophy is a good one whether you’re looking for that big break or the next idea to follow one. It’s nearly impossible to predict who and what will hit it big or have sustained success thereafter. But if you’re not consistently showing up, working at what matters to you, being in the game–the unpredictable muse picking the NEXT BIG THING won’t find you. Keep showing up. It’s the best marketing strategy of all.