Why Creators and Solopreneurs Quit

Why systems remove uncertainty
Why Creators and Solopreneurs Quit
Jake McNeill
July 15, 2021
5 min read
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92% of people quit.

This is your competitive advantage. That’s not a judgment, it’s just a fact. 

It’s easy in the beginning. Everyone is motivated.

We fantasise about success and imagine how we will feel when we are at the top of our game. 

We imagine ourselves as respected market leaders. Winning plaudits for our creativity — and enjoying the fruits of six-figure salaries.

All these things are entirely possible. In fact, there is a system to achieve that. 

The reality of the creator + maker economy is that it’s a low barrier of entry career, where the top percentage earns huge amounts of money, respect, and even fame.

That combination attracts a lot of people. You have to remember one thing. 

You’re not competing with 100% of the creators in your niche. 

You’re competing with circa 8-10% who don’t quit.

Here’s why people quit and how you can avoid it. 

The Lottery Effect

We’ve all done it. 

The lottery rolls over and there’s a squillion dollar first prize. We buy a ticket and immediately start fantasising about what we will do with the winnings.

We lose, of course. And there’s a momentary disappointment but we quickly move on. 

The same thing happens when we start a new project. Or release new content.

We fanaticise about success and are ill-prepared for the obstacles that will inevitably present themselves.

We secretly hope that our new projects will blow up instantly. After all, every now and then — maybe once a year— we see that happen to others.

Someone has to win. It could be me? This is the lottery effect. 

It’s exactly this kind of thinking that undermines the mentality required to make it to the top.

After all, there’s a huge disparity in the emotional investment between buying a lottery ticket on a whim and putting our heart and soul into creative projects. 

When we don’t explode on to the scene, we’re left feeling disappointed. 

When the obstacles start stacking up — as they always do — people get discouraged.

They quit and go and try something else. Secretly hoping their next project will blow up immediately. 

It doesn’t.

And they rinse and repeat. 

Most people just move from one project to another and never gain traction in any of them.

You need to do three things:

  1. Learn the system 
  2. Pick a platform 
  3. Commit yourself to a 2/3 year plan. 

The solution is what psychologists call ‘Mental Contrasting.’ 

It’s the process of preparing for all the obstacles you will face in advance so you can have contingency plans in place. 

Studies show this will increase your chance of success by 60%. 

As soon the obstacle presents itself you will be prepared.

The best system for this is a mental model called WOOP. 

You can read more about it here. 

They don’t create or believe in the system

In every creator market, there is a system. A series of repeatable daily processes are the best predictors to reaching long-term goals.

Without a rock solid plan filled with contingencies to overcome the inevitable obstacles; it’s going to be significantly harder. 

Professional sports teams have used this philosophy for decades.

Bill Walsh was one of the most successful American Football Coaches in the 80’s. His San Francisco 49-ers went from one of the worst teams in the league to 3 times Super Bowl winners in a decade. 

His philosophy? Get the fundamentals of the game right and the score will take care of itself. 

Phil Jackson is the greatest basketball coach of all time. He won 11 NBA championships. 

This was his system. It removed the pressure from the team

“I always encouraged players to focus on the journey rather than the goal. What matters most is playing the game the right way and having the courage to grow, as human beings as well as basketball players. When you do that, the ring takes care of itself.” — Phil Jackson

Before you even start, you have to build your own system which is created around the fundamentals of success in your field.

  • Successful writers write a lot. 
  • Successful podcasters produce a lot of episodes. 
  • Successful YouTubers post a lot of videos. 
  • Successful thought leaders tweet a lot of threads.

How many newsletters, blog posts, podcast episodes, videos does it take to get into the top percentage of your market?

Reverse engineer the process into simple daily metrics.

That’s the system you must build. It’s not about results, it’s about getting the fundamentals right and doing them every day.

If you do that correctly, the results will take care of themselves. 

Your system is based on Lead vs Lag Metrics. 

You can read more here

Self Sabotage

This is your self talk. This is what kicks in and tells you that so and so niche isn’t for you. 

That’s you’re not cut out for it. Your self talk will say the same things about your next project and the one after that. 

It will trick you into quitting. It wants you back in your comfort zone. 

It’s a survival instinct. 

The best way to deal with self sabotaging self talk is with thought-stopping.

It’s incredibly simple and used by every elite athlete and Olympian. You can read more here


Whatever niche you decide to focus on has a steep learning curve. There is so much to learn. 

If you don’t have a system. If you don’t break the process into steps; you’ll get overwhelmed. 

If you get overwhelmed; you’ll quit.

Planning your journey is essential. Overwhelm creates anxiety and leads us to perform below our skill set.

We can simply hack our nervous system and calm our minds with this technique. 

Lack of Results

Results will be thin on the ground. It may take a year or even two until you see any return.

Prepare yourself for this in advance. 

Self Doubt

This is the biggest killer of creative careers. You will start doubting yourself. 

Your self talk and your self doubt will gang up on you. They will tell you that you’re not good enough.

Every creative has gone through this. The more successful you become the more you will feel it. 

Sooner or later you will believe them and you will quit.

Don't do that. Stick to the system. 


Everybody says be authentic. I’m no different.

Well, if you’re an unlikeable, selfish jerk who doesn’t care about their audience then it doesn’t matter what system you build as people won’t like or trust you. 

The only guarantee is there are no guarantees. 

Build a system that works for you. A system that fits around your lifestyle

Don’t burn yourself out. It’s not worth it. That’s the time to quit or at least take a break.

A bit about me

I’m an ex- multi-platinum artist manager. I created strategies and built audiences for artists who sold millions. I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 45 down, 5 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn

Interested in 1:1 Creative Business/ Personal Branding Strategy?

I help creators and solopreneurs become famous in their niches. I specialise in:

  • Critical thinking and mental models for clarity and focus
  • Building simple repeatable processes to achieve long term goals
  • Starting new creative businesses
  • Standing out in saturated markets
  • Overcoming creative blocks that are holding you back
  • Turning audiences into superfans

I do discovery calls to see if we’re a good fit.

Cost? $0.00 Commitment? Zero. Time? 30 minutes

More info? Go here

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