For years, researchers have been reporting that the creative sector is a leading element of global economic growth, employment and trade. Over the last 10 years, there has been a significant shift from individuals choosing to work in traditional fields like healthcare and finance to instead working in the creative arts and entrepreneurship. Not until the last few years, with help from social media and other powerful internet tools, have the two worlds collided. The National Endowment for the Arts reported that in 2012, the production of arts services and cultural goods added more than $698 billion to the U.S. economy. So apparently, creative entrepreneurs are on to something.
However, owning a business where your intellectual capital and creative talents are your meal ticket requires an extremely strategic approach that differs from the traditional business model. Here are five essential steps to starting a creative business from the ground up.
1. Be aware of your competitors.
One of the unfortunate things about entering into the creative sector is that the area is already heavily saturated with hungry artists that offer extremely similar services with competitive prices. It is highly likely that your skill set will be heavily diluted when held up against others in the industry.
Don’t get discouraged!
As the old adage says, “iron sharpens iron.” Having talented competitors will only heighten your sense of awareness in your field and force you to improve what you offer your audience, ultimately diversifying your services. For instance, if you’re a journalist, upon researching the field you’ll see that your clientele would further appreciate multimedia journalism–a writer that can also photograph, video record and edit projects along with offering text.
Behance, LinkedIn (duh), LikeMind, DeviantArt, and Dribbble, are great online resources that taps into the creative entrepreneur space, giving users access to artists’ work, contacts and real time conversation.
Identify those that are killing it in their field, take note, curate and apply it to your brand.
2. Utilize branding to your advantage.
Speaking of branding, establishing a strong brand identity is essential to surviving as a creative business owner. Here a few key tasks that HAVE to be done in order to stand out from the crowd:
- Business Card, both online and paper
- Streamlined social media channels
3. Develop and execute a strategy.
After the housekeeping duties are done, it’s then time to create a plan. Start by writing down a list of desirable companies, agencies and clients you’d like to work with that align with your skillset. As a journalist I keep a list of online publications and editors I’ll target at the right time who are likely to mesh well with my writing style.
Next, it’s best to identify the costs associated with keeping your business afloat and profit margin wide. List the expenditures detailed spreadsheet and update it often, as unexpected expenses are common in entrepreneurship.
4. Build relationships amongst your circle.
Leverage your existing contacts on Facebook and your email contacts to find like-minded creatives who may be able to help you or be interested in building your business. A simple “I’m starting a new business” announcement via a status update would suffice, along with targeted emails directing your friends and acquaintances to your venture is sure to get the ball rolling.
When you’ve built a sizable social media presence coupled with a solid website, reach out to the the industry heavyweights.
Then, watch the magic happen.
MADE by Jasmine Browley