Top 5 Reasons You Need to Embrace Being a Generalist as a Creative Entrepreneur

6-7 min read

Top 5 Reasons You Need to Embrace Being a Generalist as a Creative Entrepreneur

How many times have you felt like a Jane (or Jack) of all trades as a creative professional?

You know, that oh-so-familiar scenario when instead of focusing on what you’ve been hired to do, you end up giving advice on design, UX, wire-framing, visual content for social, or any other thing you know how to do well.

After all, your client asked if you could do this – and obviously you can, so what’s the big deal with being multi-passionate AND a highly skilled creative?

What about all those times you’ve wondered if you should follow the experts’ advice and finally niche down to a single thing you, too, can become an authority in?

Surely they must know something more than you do. They’re not called “experts” and “gurus” just for the fun of it... right?

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Unfortunately, as many multi-passionate people will attest, finding the *perfect* career or niche that both feels fulfilling and gives your life a deeper sense of purpose is a super hard task.

That’s probably why so many beginner bloggers, creative entrepreneurs, and freelancers struggle to narrow down their services and come up with a clear and concise elevator pitch.

So they try hard to find a way they can somehow weave all their passions and interests into their new business – and still end up being profitable and successful at it.

This certainly can lead to a couple of problems, especially if you’re not intentional about your process. You can end up diluting your big “why”, confusing your audience, and generally giving the impression of an unfocused and completely scattered person.

And if you’re working with clients as a content writer, designer, or web developer, this can make you feel miserable and stall your personal and professional growth. (Not a pretty sight no matter which angle you choose to look at it from, trust me.)

“Okay, okay. I get the pitch-black picture you’re painting for me, Rali. Thanks. But there has to be something good about this generalist thing, right? Otherwise, why am I even still reading this intro?”

I’m so glad you asked, oh Patient One. And the answer is – of course – a big fat YES!

So, if you’re wondering what to tell someone next time they start rolling out all the arguments in favor of becoming a specialist...

Or when you start feeling like your multi-passionate (and very awesome) self is having an episode of epic unfulfillment leading to a professional existential crisis...

Take a second to read the following points before you embark on another round of endless questions of self-discovery and start doubting your entire life’s choices up to this very moment.

So grab a pen and some colorful sticky notes, and let’s dive right in!

1. Running a Business Means You Need to Know How to Put All the Pieces Together

You know it’s not a matter of just putting a site together and calling it a day. Not when you need to plan your blog content, figure out what to send to your subscribers, shoot drool-worthy Instagram photos, and dealing with tech on top of it all. And that’s just if you own a personal brand or you are a blogger, coach, or course creator, just as a couple of examples.

If you are a service provider who closely works with clients, running that business will still require all of the above to a certain degree. Not to mention you may be able to advise your clients on the best tools or strategies for a specific challenge they may be facing.

And when you have actively pursued to understand how each and every little piece fits into the bigger puzzle, how can being a generalist not simply mean an “all-around freakin’ amazing professional who’s there to save the day”?

Sure, you may enjoy some things less than others, but being able to confidently take the role of your clients’ most trusted advisor, isn’t *that* something rare and worth celebrating?

2. Grasping the Grander Picture of Things and Making Sense of It All Comes Effortlessly to You

You don’t need a lot of time to figure out what needs tweaking, adjusting, re-evaluating, or completely dropping out of the entire business formula. Because you simply get how all the different pieces work together.

Not separately and without ever interacting with each other, but fully. Completely. You know what it means to have awesome copy and horrible design, you understand how gorgeous design is tanked by boring-speak, and you know what it means to keep the bigger picture always in mind.

And your clients know they can rely on you for it. And you know your business can only grow when your perspective of things is what allows you to put the cogs on the wheel, the wheel to gears, and the gears to run the engine. The engine being your biz or your client’s, obviously.

3. Understanding How Different Areas Complement Each Other Will Make You a Badass Specialist (When You Choose to Become One) 

Because of your wide experience and your unique perspective of everything that goes into building and running a successful creative business, you become an asset not just another freelancer, designer, or [enter your preferred title of choice here].

And when, one day, you decide to specialize in an area you happen to be even more passionate about and feel you can contribute in a way that lights your entire soul up, you can do so without even blinking.

Because all the knowledge you would’ve gathered so far, all that experience and mileage, they will allow you to excel at your newfound “one thing” without isolating it from the bigger whole it belongs to.

And this, combined with the necessary discipline, focus, and dedication to become the specialist you’ve been avoiding for so long will make you an even greater (and more valuable) asset.

4. Becoming a Well-round Person Driven by Your Passions, Interests, and Ultimate Curiosity

When you dedicate the time to explore a handful of areas you are passionate about and truly interested in, you don’t just become a unique blend of savvy. You also become a beacon of knowledge and experience.

Someone who’s going to be the least boring person in the room. Someone you can have discussions about almost anything. Beyond that dreaded small talk and pointless little remarks of all things unimportant and trés banal. (Internal yawn session starting in 3, 2, ... ZZZ)

And not in a “look at me now” kind of way, either. Just someone who’s open to exploring new possibilities, new pathways and ways of thought, simply because you’re so used to living this way your entire life as a multi-passionate individual who is never just this or that... but all of it.

5. Having Failed at Many Things Already Allows You to Catch Problems Before They Even Emerge

You’ve tried many things. And you’ve failed at many (many) more. Yet with each failed attempt, you add one more data set to your growing database. And with each new entry, you get one more source to draw information from when new “bugs” or issues appear and you need to solve them asap.

You can simply foresee problems that may arise in a variety of different contexts not just because of how you think and manage all the elements involved in a client emergency. You’re able to do this because you’ve simply had your generous share of fails and lessons learned.

And this saves your clients precious time because you can instantly connect those dots and prove one more time that you are an invaluable asset to their business. Even without the guru status or the expert medals and stamps on each page of your website.

Final Thoughts

In the end, going against the grain and embracing your generalist preferences will most likely be tough. It’s hard not to pay attention to remarks about how you’ll never be able to master any of the areas you dabble in.

It may even hurt your feelings, especially when you’re written off as someone who has shallow skills and is looked down on by all the “specialists” in the room.

But, ultimately, if meaning and fulfillment in your life are inseparable from pursuing your passions and interests, perhaps accepting and making the most out of these is your best strategy for a happier and more complete life ahead.

Where do you find yourself on this spectrum and how pressured do you feel to be one or the other? Let me know in the comments below!

Blog post image: Kaboompics