Making the decision to become an entrepreneur and starting a small business is not for everyone. It takes hard work, grit, and determination and can sometimes leave us disillusioned, wondering, “Did I make the right choice?” At times it can feel like you are taking steps backward, but success as a creative entrepreneur isn’t linear.
Here are 5 pieces of business advice that every creative entrepreneur should know before starting his/her own business.
1. Knowing Yourself
Self-awareness and believing in your passion will help give fuel to the fire of your new business. As you navigate the waters of self-doubt, perhaps even financial loss, and concern about the future, reminding yourself of the value you felt you could add to the world will help to buoy you.
Lisa Congdon said it well in Become a Working Artist, “Believing that you have something to give the world is really the first step.” You must understand that you have value and your work has value, and that you offer something unique to the world.
It cannot be overstated that self-awareness is crucial to your individual success but also how you work together with others. Being honest with which tasks you can do excellently verses which are better delegated to others, can maximize your time and profit.
2. Having Goals and Setting Steps to Get There
Walking along a road aimlessly gets you nowhere significant. That’s the same with starting a small business without a goal (or any other endeavor for that matter).
Begin with the end in mind. What specific goals do you want to target in your business plan as a small business owner? Write them down. Then make a vision map that has intermediate goals that stem from much larger goals. Intermediate goals are manageable goals that you can accomplish in a week, a month, two months, or three months.
Lisa Congdon shows that big goals can be accomplished through careful planning, intermediate goals and actionable steps. Her approach closely resembles the effective S.M.A.R.T. goals approach: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
3. Crafting Your CV, Statement and Portfolio
Crafting an effective curriculum vitae (CV) and paragraph bios are important steps before pricing and promoting your work. Consider getting involved in your creative community to help guide the formation of your CV. Ask yourself, “What do the CVs and bios of your community show about their work? What do they look like? What’s the feeling that you get from them?”
As a self employed creative, you need to build your credibility within your community. That’s where your portfolio will play a vital role. Design your creative portfolio in such a way that it addresses the psychology behind why people appreciate your work. What is the specific joy that you bring to your audience? Make sure to include:
- What your creative small business is about
- Your business name
- Your education and/or certifications
- Mission/vision statements
- Creative affiliations
- Sample work
4. Pricing Your Work
Pricing your work appropriately is challenging. Tim Leonhardt stated, “Creatives are basically more vulnerable than other people and the reason is really quite simple: It is because the work that we do is completely personal.” So, what is a fair price for your work? As Much As You Can Get! As hard as it is, it is also important to separate yourself from your work (and the price). When someone offers much less than what you desire, do not take this to mean that you have less worth as a person.
Tim Ferriss in his breakthrough book “The 4-hour Workweek” declares there are three currencies in this world: money, time and energy. Keep in mind these three currencies when you price your work.
Another factor to consider is tenure– how many years have you been doing your creative work? Also, remember to do proper benchmarking with competitors so as not to price your work too high or too low.
Above all, know your worth. There may be times at first, when you may need to price your work low while you’re building your credibility and then you can ramp it up slowly.
5. Promoting Your Work
Building your tribe is a good start in promoting business growth. Start with your network of family and friends, and ask them to subscribe to your blog and social media accounts. Be patient, and stick with keeping your blog and social media accounts current as it can take months to see the fruits of your labor.
A cohesive digital marketing plan is essential in your strategic planning and business model. This includes perfecting your messaging, leveraging social channels, mapping your customer journey, and developing a growth/scaling plan. Ryan Deiss’ eight-step framework is a good starting point to help you understand the complexities of digital marketing and convert high-value customers that are loyal to your work.
While starting your own creative small business can be a frightening leap into the unknown, knowing and executing on these five principles can help you on your path to success.
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