I just Googled the phrase “business advice” out of pure curiosity.
Guess what came up?
As entrepreneurs, we are saturated with “expert advice” from bajillions of sources.
We face a never-ending list of “rules” and “guidelines” we are supposed to follow.
Best practices for customer service. Promotional strategies. SEO principles. Social media etiquette. Rules about how often to post blog content. How often to send out a newsletter. How many characters an email subject line ought to be. The “right words” to use to “close” a hesitant client and make a sale.
So many shoulds and musts to make millions, land more clients, gain more fame, and dominate the universe.
It’s enough to make anybody feel psychotic — and it definitely doesn’t make it very easy to trust your own gut instincts.
Recently, when I decided to chase my lifelong dream of becoming a TV screenwriter, I realized, “Damn. This is yet another industry that is completely saturated with advice.”
Articles, magazines, books, podcasts, coaches, consultants, and conferences on how to woo TV execs, how to network in the entertainment biz, how to get noticed in a crowded marketplace, how to become BFFs with Ben Affleck in just 7 days — at home in your PJs!
Screenwriters are pummeled with all of the same kinds of “tips” and “expert strategies” as entrepreneurs — and it’s equally overwhelming.
Over the past year or so, I took all of the screenwriting advice I was receiving and tucked it on the backburner. Between running my own business, moving to Los Angeles, and churning out two original TV pilots (with a 3rd on the way!) I just didn’t have space in my brain to process and sift through all of the advice. I saved everything that was recommended and just figured I’d get to it later.
Then: a miracle happened. Through a series of twists and turns and references and introductions from people in my community, I found myself sitting down to coffee with someone who is a proven rock star in the TV industry. His work is on TV every week and reading his impressive IMDB profile gave me fan-girl tremors.
I was so grateful to get even five minutes of his time and I didn’t want to waste a moment. So as we sipped our lattes in the LA sunshine, I got straight to the point:
“What is your biggest piece of advice for an aspiring screenwriter like me?” I asked, pen poised, notebook in hand, ready to capture his brilliance.
What he said blew me away.
“Don’t listen to industry advice. Don’t ask other people for their opinions. Just focus on your writing. Becoming a better writer. Write, write, write. Because good work ALWAYS gets found.”
I froze. Chills ran up my spine.
Good work ALWAYS gets found.
TV execs don’t run from amazing writing, they desperately SEEK it. Just like in every other industry. Your clients, customers, readers, viewers… they are all looking for something real, something valuable, something really freaking good!
So instead of spending the bulk of my time reading “expert tips” on how to become a screenwriter, I’m spending my time… being a screenwriter. Writing. Tweaking. Dreaming up crazy characters and complex plot lines. Writing, writing, and writing some more. Trying to make my work as good as it can possibly be.
“Good work ALWAYS gets found” is my new mantra.
It’s universally applicable to any career, industry, or type of business.
Yes, you still need to make friends, build credibility, and form meaningful relationships.
Yes, you still need to “put yourself out there” through meetings, coffee dates, guest blogging, online challenges, by sharing enticing content on social media, your YouTube video series, or whatever kind of community-building you like to do.
You need to give people a chance to meet you. To know, like, and trust you.
But ultimately, the deciding factor in your success comes down to one question:
Is your work any good?
Is it exciting? Helpful? Valuable? Intriguing? Worth talking about?
It better be. Or you won’t get very far.
Focus back on your work. Become a master of your craft. Pour in your heart and soul. Be the best you can be.
Because as a wise man once told me:
Good work ALWAYS gets found.