Six tips for starting a creative business (or at least thinking about It)

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For many creatives, the thought of running a business around their art sounds rigid, time-consuming, overwhelming and scary. Some of them feel they have no sense for business: they run from math, cringe at the thought of bookkeeping or taxes, and management of any kind sounds daunting. Others worry about the challenges of balancing business with the rest of life if working at home is likely — for women, this is an extra challenge because society tells us we should want (and be able) to do it all.

You can do it

Fear and frustration may leave many artists stuck. As a result, they’re still doing the 9-to-5, trying to work in the fun of their creativity on the side; this is not only unfulfilling, but it’s also tiring to the point of exhaustion. Being out of alignment with yourself is physically and emotionally draining for anyone. So, if you desire only your art, and life would make more sense if you focused more on developing it, then having your own business is where you want to head. And to be successful, you must learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. 

Help abounds

Luckily, there are lots of creative people out there who have felt the same struggle but charged forward and designed amazing, prosperous businesses around their own creativity. Many of them have actually made sharing their successes and failures the foundation of their business model and these are the people who will help you on your entrepreneurial journey. They have made the business of business a tad more exciting and artistic for those who like a creative approach.

Taking the first step
If you’re curious about creating a business and making some magic happen, here are a few tips to get your mind and your heart in the right place before you take the leap. 

Tip #1
Be clear about what you want. 

What does your business look like to you? How busy do you want to be? Are you looking to be famous? At all times, be realistic and honest about what you want and what you are willing to do. Hint: make a vision board to put your plans to paper while exercising a bit of your creativity.

Tip #2
Find the people who share your goals

There’s no end to the amount of business information out there but finding the info that appeals to you, that’s delivered by a voice and a face you like and trust, is the key to keeping things engaging and exciting. So, your first step is to research the available resources; Google people, search blogs and watch YouTube videos — find who speaks to you and who speaks to them. Who is in their tribe of artists? Who do they talk about and where do they read about it? Locate that kind of information, then make your “who’s who” list.

Tip #3
Learn, learn and learn. 

Once you find your peeps and your purpose, it’s time to buckle down with your resources and study by reading books and blogs and analyzing videos and illustrations, looking for articles on the web, attending seminars and workshops and taking advantage of a free consultation. The Michigan Small Business Development Center offers free consultations and workshops, and consultant Laurie Lonsdorf is particularly fantastic.

Tip #4
Social media is a must for today’s economy. 

It’s free and easy and a great place to start making your presence known. There are lots of platforms to choose from, so do some research and figure out which ones seem best for you. It’s important to not forget about LinkedIn, as there are many benefits to having a presence there. There are plenty of options to maximize business visibility. 

Tip #5
Start thinking about branding. 

What is your brand? How do you want people to feel when they meet you, enter the studio, come to your store or come across your website? Brit + Co has all sorts of online classes that are inexpensive, or free, to help you with your brand. One suggestion they make is to create a mood board to help you explore what you want your brand to reflect; these boards are fun to do and easy to accomplish, especially on Pinterest.

Tip #6
Start exploring website building and design. 

You’ll want a professional looking site that showcases your work and allows people to contact you. There are free platforms out there that make it relatively easy to build and maintain a website on your own. It’s not a bad idea to look at other people’s sites for inspiration either: What do you like? Thinking about different aspects will help get you excited and make reading about taxes that much easier.

The following is some literature to check out! These aren’t all about business — some are about creativity, confidence and self-love — but all are important to success:

  • “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • “Get Rich Lucky Bitch” by Denise Duffield Thomas 
  • “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron
  • “My Shining Year” workbook and planner by Leonie Dawson
  • “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown

Other awesome people you can research:

  • Danielle LaPorte
  • Maston Kipp
  • Marie Forleo
  • Gabrielle Bernstein

To get started on your journey for knowledge, start here:

  • creativelive.com/top-women-entrepreneurs
  • com/melanie-deziel/19-books-every-creative-entrepreneur-should-read-this-year.html

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Dawn Gorman

Dawn Gorman is a writer, connector and creative who lives in Old Town, Lansing. She is the communications and events manager at the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and loves attending festivals and arts events. She jumps at any opportunity to talk about creative ideas.

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