US-based Loni Stark, Adobe’s senior director of strategy and product marketing, has a better understanding of this than most. She founded a culture publication for Californians called Stark Insider, for which she has interviewed hundreds of famous names, from Silicon Valley’s tech hub to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
And all of these people, regardless of whether they are in creative industries, technology or business, have some key traits in common that have helped them reach the peak of their field.
My Business asked Loni to share her insights into what links these high-fliers, and how SME owners can follow their lead.
Find your interest
“I think there's a couple of things that are common. One is they found something they're really, really passionate about,” says Loni.
And it doesn’t matter what that passion is, whether it be mainstream or something really niche – if you’re passionate about it, you’re already halfway there.
“One artist I interviewed ... goes onto eBay and other sites, and finds people's wedding china, things like that that they're selling … and she melts it down and makes artwork out of it. It's a very fascinating and interesting [idea]. So one thing is being really passionate about your area.”
Another trait all small business owners will acknowledge is necessary, but with which many can struggle at times, is simply hanging in there.
“I think another is that they're persistent, and care about the details. So you think, being creative, a lot of people have this misconceived notion that creativity is just this lightbulb that goes off and you're creative,” says Loni.
“What I've found is that everybody works really hard at being creative, and there's just a mundane thing to happen. A great example of that was when I was listening to James Cameron talk, the film director who's created things like Avatar.
“You look at that movie and you just go, 'Wow! That's so creative, just being able to create these creatures and everything else', but then you listen to his process by which he was able to create that film, and ... it was just painstaking in terms of the long days, the minute details that he had to [cover] because there were scenes where you had real people that you had to film, and then you overlay it with digital.”
Don’t doubt yourself
Loni’s third observation, which is probably where a lot of SME owners struggle most, comes down to self-belief.
“Unapologetic belief in what you're doing,” she says.
“A lot of times, to be creative, when you think about it, you're setting the trend, or you're doing something very different. It's easy to look at someone who's now famous or someone who's music has sold and go, 'Wow, of course people like their music, they like their art, they like that play they wrote’, but every creative person I've talked to has been bogged [down] with self-doubt.
“Having to really push through that and really believe in what they're doing and get out there and be vulnerable, I think that's another trait pretty common in the creative folks I've talked to.”