Photo by Barry Schwartz
I used to take my dogs to the best dog park ever. Well-watered grass, shade trees, about half an acre, a short drive from the house, lots of free parking, owned by a local gas company who graciously allowed anyone to use it. A sweet deal. I went every couple of weeks.
The exchange consisted of this: the gas company received the good will of the community and asked only that we be good stewards, meaning we keep our dogs from barking too much and clean up after them. Common courtesy.
Cleanup for some people was more than they could manage, however. We were warned, nicely, more than once, and the gas company eventually sent out a crew (in hazmat suits, no less) to clean up what had been deposited by dogs and ignored by their owners.
A couple of weeks after that, I saw one of the regulars, a guy who was there every day, watch his dog go into the iceplant and do what dogs do. He told me, “I’m not going in there”. Iceplant grows all of about 6 or 8 inches tall.
The park closed a month later. The regulars chose not to change and they lost their good thing. Me, too.
Unlike dog owners, most creative entrepreneurs don’t have the luxury of a patron like a gas company. Creatives by default depend on mutually beneficial relationships. The advent of the digital world and the post-2008 collapse means those relationships have been under stresses of a sort not seen for decades. Every day brings another sign of transition; where to, no one knows, and not because creatives have refused to change – clients are finding the world shifting under their feet as much as creatives. Those that don’t respond to change will be the ones that lose their good thing. This is not news.
Creative entrepreneurs, being on average smaller companies than their clients, may find it easier to be nimble than many of their clients. But the only way to survive tough times is if entrepreneurs stay alert, refrain from bad behavior, and go into the weeds when necessary to make the world a better place for their clients – and other entrepreneurs.