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Today I’d like to share the inspiring story of Adriana Willsie, an MML reader and pet portrait artist. Read on to hear how she took a really sucky situation and turned it into something special.

Enjoy!

A Life Designed with Intention is Closer Than You Think

by Adriana Willsie

Oh, I’d thought long and hard about starting my own business.  But mostly about how it was so far beyond my reach.  I chewed on it while brushing my teeth, weighed the pros and cons while lifting weights at the gym, and dug into the details during my lunch hours.

And from the comfort of my cubicle, I made a list of all the steps it would take for me to go from sullen office drone to sparkling creative entrepreneur.  To start my pet portrait painting business, I would first need to earn a Masters of Fine Arts, find an affordable and brilliant business consultant, hire a fantastic web-designer, and save up enough start-up funding to quit my day job.  In other words, the whole mess seemed far too complicated for me to ever navigate.

Then came the day I lost my job.

After spending a carb-loaded two weeks wallowing in my parent’s kitchen, I finally realized what I had in front of me:  a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start from scratch and create the career I’d always dreamed of.  Nope, I still didn’t have that MFA, a business consultant, a web-designer, or funding, but I did have time, passion, and a fear-fueled drive to earn money as quickly as possible.


I bought a url and whipped up a basic website.  I read books and blogs on marketing and implemented what I learned as I was learning it.  Most importantly, I began introducing myself to people as a pet portrait artist.  Was it the most elegant launch ever?  Nope.  But just like that, I was in business.

We’re trained from birth to plan ahead and to map out a path to our goals.  In the process, we often look around to find the big hurdles in our way, to confirm our suspicions that we can’t design the career we want.  Instead of looking for the boulders in our path, why not look for the easiest way around them?

You just might be surprised to discover that the only thing standing between you and your own creative business is buying a url, getting new business cards, or putting out feelers for that first client.  Then as you move forward with your business, you can identify the areas that do need significant investment down the road.  But take it one step at a time.

While it took getting laid off for me to trim the fat from my own business launch plan, you don’t have to wait for catastrophe.

Here’s a challenge for you.  Write out all the steps standing between you and your dream career.  Now grab a pen and circle the ones that absolutely have to happen before you can say you’re in business, and cross off the steps that can happen further down the line.

You’re closer than you thought, aren’t you?

Adriana Willsie is a custom pet portrait artist living in Chicago, IL, and she is on a mission to paint 350 pets, one paw at a time.  You can sign up here to read more about her life as an artist and a creative entrepreneur, or follow her on Twitter (@AdrianaWillsie).

  • Congratulations on taking this huge step! I’ve added you to my Etsy favorites!

  • Adriana, your story is so inspirational! I love your work, too. It’s amazing how we often let ourselves really chase our dreams as soon as we absolutely have to. I’m so glad it worked out for you! And again, your art is really great. Congrats!

  • Wow, this is such an amazing story! Thanks for sharing – your paintings and your words are gorgeous!

  • I agree with Helena, Kristin, and Bethany- this is an amazing and super positive story we all can learn from :).

  • i’m such a fan of adriana! this is such a great piece. hooray!

  • Wow inspiring!

  • Thanks for saying “you’re not alone”. I recently launched my creative biz in a not so elegant way and thought I must be the only one. Inspiration is everywhere if you just open your eyes. Look forward to seeing you on etsy and Twitter!

  • Love this article and this blog! got here from Blonde & Balanced.
    10% is what happens to you, 90% is what you make happen…congratulations.

  • Great story! I love reading about how others navigate the start up process. I’m currently taking the plunge, and just launched my website. It’s scary but exhilarating!

  • Thank you everyone for your lovely and supportive comments! You sure know how to make a girl feel welcome 🙂

  • Pingback: Guest Post at Makeunder My Life : Adriana Willsie | Fresh Art & Custom Portraits()

  • What a great post! It’s so true sometimes we create bigger hurdles for ourselves than are necessary.

  • Those who know you know you are wildly whimsical, creative, yet confoundingly organized–and then really nice! I don’t know how you do it. But going into business as you have has made you even more magical than you already are!

  • Louise Marie

    You are amazing! I am thrilled to find a pet portrait artist. You made the right choice! You will be around for a very long time because your work is so talent-filled and because, like someone else said, you are “magical.” God bless you.

  • Your portraits are so pretty! And I love this: “Instead of looking for the boulders in our path, why not look for the easiest way around them?” so inspirational!!!

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