What It’s Really Like As A Creative Entrepreneur (In Barbados)

One of the most frequently asked questions by visitors to Bajans is, “how do you afford to live here?” Recently, CEO World Magazine just listed Barbados as the 12th most expensive out of 132 countries to live in.

If you’re from Bim, you might have had a clue about this. The cost of living is no secret; it’s an everyday reality. If you happen to be from ‘the gem of The Caribbean‘ and have had travel experience, you’re not so surprised by this ‘new news’ either.

But it does make your eyebrows budge a bit to hear that rating – 12 out of 132 – woo! For an island that is only 166 square miles and a cool laid-back drive to circle around (minus traffic), that’s still something.

For years, Bajans have been buying plane tickets to fly to Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Miami to buy groceries in bulk or send barrels of locally-pricey products (like olive oil, basmati rice, toiletries and anything in a jar) back home. A whole plane ticket and daily spending money – to buy groceries.

Thankfully, living with an abundance mindset as a believer, lack is not something I embrace. What you believe you’ll see.

Still, as a creative entrepreneur (in a primarily academic environment), you’ve got to have vision, innovation, perseverance, resourcefulness, endurance, discipline, motivation, decent communication skills and diverse gifts, good relationships with others and (I’d recommend) an online presence.

If you have admin skills, securing a job or client in that area can give some financial support to facilitate your creative career as it grows.

When I was traveling frequently (before this new work-mostly-from-home lifestyle) the prices locally weren’t on my radar much but after a few years, it became obvious that planning, pacing, pricing, proactivity and prayer matter.

drawing designs in pages of my planner

Please don’t let those compliments about “how talented” you are, get to your head. They don’t mean much to cashiers, landlords or utility service companies. Of course, kind words are nice and healthy to hear but as long as you are (an adult) building a creative career, you have financial responsibilities and aspirations just like people who have a day job and ‘steady’ salary.

Even people with day jobs nowadays are being inspired or pressed to start a business in their otherwise free time.

In ‘Bim,’ (or any other pricey place) you’ve got to outline what you need to earn to manage your financial responsibilities (personal, career-wise, savings and causes to support/ investments.) Do this without mentally trying to put a limit on God who will supply all your needs.

Some requests will come in, voluntary, honorarium/stipend, contract and one-time fee wise. Pace them as you can in a way that you can still pour joy and diligence towards them.

Tip: Try packaging your services and offering long-term agreements (clients on retainer.) Speaking about clients; keep your clients’ info confidential no matter how ‘relaxed’ your career field is or how small the job might be. Many creative career fields are only ‘relaxed’ and ‘care-free’ until credit and cash are involved.

Set a standard for your business and treat the people you work with and for well.

Choose the best way of having people reach you (friends, clients and prospective bookings) – one you can keep up with and they can count on.

Say please and thank you and be thankful. It matters.

  • What will bank holidays look like for you as a creative entrepreneur? Taking the day off or working for part or most of the day?
  • Where are the best places to shop for your present budget and taste? No need to be stingy but more so conscious of how and how often you spend – annnd please bear in mind that who you buy from is whom you’re supporting.

As an entrepreneur, supporting other entrepreneurs and small businesses is a healthy habit to start.

How will you be refreshed as you manage your business?

Here’s a post about refreshing your creative process and avoiding overwhelm.

Learning to kick things like shyness to the curb early o’clock is helpful. By the way, if that’s something you’re struggling with right now, we can ‘chat’ about that in another post if you like. Just sound your voice in the comments so I can prep something just for you. That’s something that took me a while to get beyond.

So what advice do I have for creative entrepreneurs (in and beyond Barbados)?

Have a vision. Breathe. Faith is your fuel. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Along with what usually is our favourite part – creativity, we have to tend to things like:

  • pitching
  • marketing
  • sales conversations
  • invoicing
  • paying bills
  • emailing
  • meetings 
  • follow-up conversations and reminders
  • bookings

It can seem overwhelming and yep – at times, be a bit overwhelming. But do not let business stuff intimidate you. If it does, to the point where your creative muscles are freezing, decide on how seriously you truly want to take your creativity, how much time you honestly can dedicate towards it, and study if or when you need to join a community, connect or work with other creatives (whether seasonally or continually) or recruit management or an admin/marketing team.

Your career is not worth forfeiting your health, well-being and zest towards nurturing and sharing your gift with others.

You are more than your career.

There may be (or will be) seasons of sweat, tears, long hours, tears, lulls in bookings, service and wellness upgrades and thoughts about if this for you right now.

So, what kind of creative business are you in and what’d your ideal career design and workflow? Work-from-home or from a co-working space or cafe? Think about those things honestly, write them down somewhere you’ll see or refer to them, pace yourself and remember the higher purpose in it all.

Enjoy it…it’ll show…

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Refreshment and resources for the journey. Join singer, songwriter, Indra from Barbados for walks in creation, gardening moments, songs of freedom, tropical recipes and travel journeys on what has organically grown into one of the leading 'Caribbean Lifestyle Blogs & Websites to Follow.'

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