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As an independent filmmaker, Natalie Rodriguez was immersed in the energetic, fast-paced life that a creative artist living in the heart of Los Angeles, California is prone to. 2020 was going to be a great year: the award-winning entrepreneur had won contracts with distributors to release a brand-new feature film, and had scheduled a couple of release dates for two books that she was publishing.

All of this preparation, pre-planning and anticipation of art came to a sudden, unwelcome halt in March of that very year, both because of the pandemic and the resurgence of the BLM Movement. Natalie started questioning the propriety of putting her film out in a political and social climate that seemed to demand a very different media message. This led to her fielding calls from the distributors who wanted to continue with release dates as planned, while she instinctually felt the need to push the dates back. 

I spoke to Natalie about her experience and process with adopting a more flexible approach in her entrepreneurship. Here are some lessons from when time stood still.

Trust Your Gut

As an entrepreneur, decisions often have to be made, and quickly. There will be times when it seems irrational or illogical to do certain things, but if that instinct is pulling at you in a certain direction, go with it! It takes time to distinguish between instinct and an overwhelming sense of FOMO and pressure, but a process of trial and error should help you develop a stronger gut feeling. 

When Natalie was considering postponing the release date for her film, she also considered the pushback that would come from the distributors, who might very easily just have dropped her project. Instead, they were very understanding, and both parties managed to come to an agreement together. As a result, a deeper bond was forged in the fires of gutsy communication.

Positive outcomes are not assured; at the very least, you’re staying true to yourself, and that is one of the most important traits an entrepreneur should possess. 

Always Be On The Lookout For Opportunity

The old adage of “When one door closes…” is very applicable here. Good entrepreneurs are constantly looking out for alternative avenues. In a world that is so unpredictable, having a couple of Plan Bs, Cs, and even Ds could work to your advantage. 

In the midst of quarantine and chaos, a fan of Natalie’s work in the UK got in touch with her, and mentioned that her film had been uploaded on the streaming service, Tubi. This aspect of free streaming services has now been made aware to Natalie, who has utilized this power to reach a more global audience. She has since gotten in contact with other, various free streaming services like IMDB TV, thus creating new platforms for her art to be showcased.

With innovation and creative thinking, you can find yourself reaping rewards you never even knew existed!

Everyone talks about learning new skills, but learning targeted skills that relate to your business is efficient and cost-effective, especially if it’s a smaller venture. 

Although Natalie had signed with a distributor, she was also encouraged to promote her own material on social media. She then realized that she had a good friend who worked in marketing, whose brain she then picked for a couple of gems on advertising and self-promotion.

Even having the basic knowledge of neighboring expertise will help you gain a better understanding of the movement of the whole.

Take Time For Yourself

A key message in Natalie’s work deals with mental health. We spoke at great length about the need to consciously create rest periods to recuperate both physical and mental well-being. If the lockdown has taught us anything, it is that taking the time to do things that will benefit you is beneficial and should be encouraged.

For more on mental health and Natalie’s take on it, check out The Extraordinary Ordinary and promotional material.

Achievements Are Personal, Not Social

“You’re not a real writer, filmmaker, director if your film goes straight to VOD!” was a criticism that Natalie has heard over the course of her career as an indie filmmaker. But these types of unwarranted ideals actually restrict the discerning entrepreneur, and blocks off potential opportunities for growth. If a budding filmmaker had allowed these concepts to engulf her thinking, then the current realm of streaming services would be blocked off, and her art would lose just a few more opportunities and platforms. 

The only person you’re beholden to is yourself, and the only goals you have to achieve are the ones set by you. And speaking of goals:

Realize That Goals Can Change

…and there’s nothing wrong with that! As humans, we are always growing and evolving; what more as entrepreneurs catering to an ever-changing world? The ability to be flexible and to adapt to the changing times is a characteristic that every entrepreneur should aim to acquire.

For more of Natalie’s work, check out her socials and promotional materials:

Natalie’s Socials

Elephants & Skeletons

The Extraordinary Ordinary

Howard Original – coming out Friday, May 21st, 2021

Have any more advice of how to be less time-sensitive? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.