6 min read

The Parable Of The Contractor And The Craftsman

Once upon a time, there was a Contractor and a Craftsman...

Once upon a time...

There was a Contractor and a Craftsman.

Now, while these two characters are fictional, their experiences certainly aren't, and they are based on real people.

Your current experience will match one of them.

Which one? Well, you’ll see…

Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

As I was saying - there once was a Contractor and a Craftsman. One of them is happy, fulfilled, and grateful for everything they have.

The other is stuck, frustrated, and desperate to change their situation.

The Contractor has been building homes since he was a boy. He learned from his father, who learned from his father. They’ve built homes the same way for decades.

Every day is the same.

Their small business has the same clients, the same size projects, and therefore the same budgets they’ve had for years. The business hasn’t grown at all since he took over from his “Pop”.

Every so often the Contractor reads a book or takes a course on “how to make more money building houses”.

He clicks on every ad that touts some “secret” or “shortcut” to riches.

Nothing has ever worked, yet he still clicks on the ads and searches here and there, hoping something will finally solve all of his problems.

Work has slowed recently.

He was living month to month, but now things are even tighter, and the constant stress of needing more clients and projects keeps him up at night. He’s worried for his partners and his family.

What will I do if the business fails? is a question that never leaves him.

"It is what it is, and it’s how it always has been," he says. He sips his drink and goes on with his day.

Just as he did the day before.

...

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The Craftsman, on the other hand, came to this line of work when she saw a video of a man who built an entire cabin with his own two hands on YouTube.

The video sparked something in her.

She was a successful business owner already but saw an opportunity to build tiny, off-the-grid homes for people who were looking to escape the city for some peace and quiet.

She found an investor who wanted to expand their real estate portfolio and partnered with her on a huge plot of land - hundreds of acres.

She then found one, perfect client and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse - their own little place, off the beaten path, at a price they could easily afford.

Before she even broke ground, over half of the plots were sold and the new owners had placed a sizable deposit.

She now has more capital to put into the infrastructure and the design of the cabins.

She hires the best contractors to build the homes at a comfortable profit margin. Once the homes are sold, she splits the money 50/50 with her investor partner.

Better yet, she owns 100% of the company.

Most of her “work” consists of managing the systems that she built.

  • The system for finding new buyers.
  • The system for building homes on time and under budget.
  • The system for ensuring that the business takes care of their customers so that they refer their friends - which keeps the cost of acquiring a new client low.

She's now creating the next opportunity, which will bring her even more fulfillment and success in the years ahead.

It’s work, but she wouldn’t choose anything else.

...

Now, I said that these two were based on real people.

But I lied.

They’re based on one person...

Me.

In 2006 I started my first company, SoundSmith Studios, a boutique post-production sound services company.

Things were great at the beginning. I started the business with a student loan which bought me a Mac Pro, a $1,200 42” flat-screen TV, and a killer surround sound system.

(The best equipment would make me better at my job, I thought...)

My first paying gig was on a small independent feature. I still have a framed dollar from the literal bag of money that I was handed in a parking lot from one of the producers - he was a doorman at Sundance Resort and paid me in 1’s and 5s, his tip money from the summer.

The business grew to where I was paying myself around $40k a year.

I wasn’t great at finding new clients (I had too much work to do!) and ultimately partnered with the director of that first feature to form a production company!

Yet, in the 9 years or so of owning and running that business, I never paid myself over $45k a year.

In that time I got married, had three boys, bought a home…so that $45k had to stretch further and further each year.

I parted ways with that business at the end of 2017 and decided to take everything I’d learned over the previous decade of running my own businesses and do better this time.

I became a freelance film & TV producer, and in the first year made more than double what I'd ever paid myself in the past.

And then I doubled my income the next year as well.

But then, the pandemic hit…but my income stayed the same! How could that be?

There’s one reason, and one reason only.

I had the same work ethic, so it wasn’t that.

I had about the same skillset, so it’s not that either.

I didn’t have more money, more connections, more resources…

No. It’s the same thing that was different between the Contractor and the Craftsman in the story.

The only thing that changed was my mindset.

...

In mid-August I shared this thought on Twitter:

The more I thought about it in the hours and days that followed, the more I felt this spark that I needed to do something to support my belief - or, rather, put up or shut up.

I have been helping creatives through courses and blogging and books for years.

But I’d never owned the outcome for them - I always just told them “If you do the work…it works!”

What a challenge it would be to create a way to take shared ownership of the outcome! That excited me because it meant that if I succeeded then I could dramatically change the lives of the people I worked with!

But, what outcome? More clients? More projects? What?

And how would we achieve it?

From that spark was born a new book - The Craftsman Creative.

The goal is to help you, dear reader, achieve the amazing goal of building a six-figure creative business. Following the chapters in this book, doing the work, and taking consistent action over a long enough period of time, that outcome becomes inevitable.

I'm excited to be joining you on the journey ahead of you.


This book is being written in public through this blog! I'd love to get your feedback if you are willing to share. Sign up for the email list and hit reply to the emails as the book is written, and I'll be able to incorporate your feedback and comments into the final manuscript of the book!

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Craftsman Creative | Book
A written-in-public book project about how to grow from a five-figure creator to a six-figure business owner.