Maker Mentors has given me the opportunity to connect with hundreds of creatives all over the world.
I have learned about their businesses, heard their struggles, and connected them to the resources they needed to take their business to the next level.
Building a creative business on your own can be incredibly scary.
There are huge institutions designed to help people gain the skills they need to get a job. They can help you find your dream job, craft the perfect resume, and connect with recruiters who are hiring. There is a very clear path to getting a job, but there is no clear path for building a creative business. You will not find any big institutions focused on helping creatives build businesses around their personal passions. There is no how-to manual that will show you the exact path you need to take to build a business you love. The path to building a successful creative business is not so clear, which is what makes it feel so scary.
Talking to all of these creative business owners has given me a clear sense of what building a business in today’s world looks like. There are three clear phases every creative entrepreneur goes through when building their business.
Phase One – Getting Started
The first three years of building your creative business will be focused on figuring out how you are going to make money. Every creative I talked to made almost no money the first three years they were in business. Even the incredibly successful ones.
It takes a few years to figure out what you should sell and who will buy it and how much you can charge.
Take this time to try lots of new products and services. Experiment with different price points. You will fail a lot during this phase of your business, but you will learn invaluable lessons about building a business.
Phase Two – Building a Brand
The second few years of your business will be focused on building a brand around your work. Most creatives are able to earn a sustainable income from their business after the first few years. They have a great product or service and a stream of customers, and are building the business they have always dreamed of.
The biggest obstacle creatives face during this phase is managing their time.
Most creatives underestimate how much they should charge and how many clients they can realistically manage. They end up working crazy hours in order to maintain their income, and they spend a lot of time trying to get more control over their life.
Focus on building a brand around your bestselling products or services. Hire people who can help you grow your business. Find creative ways to free up your time, and raise your prices. You deserve it.
Phase Three – Scaling their Efforts
This is the part where creative entrepreneurs really start to thrive. They have fine-tuned their product, made a plan for managing their time, and developed a brand around their work.
It is in this phase when most creatives start focusing on creative products and diversifying their revenue streams.
They have found lots of ways to make money from their business, and have a strong foundation of clients. They start developing new products and services they can sell that allow them to increase their income while minimizing the amount of time they have to spend on their business.
It is really easy to compare yourself to hugely successful creative brands, but understand that these companies all started where you are right now. They all started from nothing. They tried new things. Learned from their mistakes, and most importantly they did not give up when things got really hard.
It is essential you understand the phase your business is in, embrace your challenges ahead, and know that his phase will not last forever.