It’s the freedom that many of us dream of. Whether it’s being liberated from the confines of a 9 to 5 pattern, having a better work-life balance or eliminating a tiresome commute – many of us dream of using our creative skills to set up a small business. It could be the satisfaction of seeing an artistic vision come to life, or of building a company that operates by your personal ethics. Perhaps you’re just a dreamer with a sketchpad and a big idea. But where on earth do you get started running your own creative business? Well, it could be a lot easier than you think.
Figure Out a Business Plan
The best small businesses start up with a strong vision. You need to figure out exactly what product you are making, who it’s for and how you will spread the word before anything else. Don’t be put off by this – a business plan can be a creative thing in itself – just take a look at The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success. The plan will constitute your main ‘sell’ to investors, and keep you on track with your goals clearly in mind. Use it as a place to define what your business will stand for, and what needs you’ll help to meet for people. You should review the plan regularly as the company develops, Keeping the end in sight is important when you’re first starting out.
Choose a Name
Coming up with a name for your creative venture is the fun part, but it can also be surprisingly hard. What best expresses you and the change you want to make in the world? Picking something concise and memorable can help your marketing efforts later down the line. Remember to check on Companies House and Google to be sure that it’s not taken by another company before falling in love with something. It’s also worth thinking about the social media handles you want to use and seeing if these are also free. As social media is a great zero-to-low-cost marketing tool for small businesses, this can be critical.
Find a Source of Investment
Most businesses require some start-up funds – but in the case of running your own small creative company, they are usually fairly minimal. List out all the equipment that you will need to get started to work out how much capital you need. Then find a source – a lot of people with small outlays can use savings, or ask friends and family for a small loan. If you’re a homeowner, you may also be able to look at homeowner loans, which is better for your credit rating than an unsecured loan from the bank. Or you can turn to crowdfunding if you have an idea that you think will appeal to a lot of people.
Create an Online Presence
Word of mouth and online recommendations are definitely the way a small creative business without a big advertising budget can get noticed. Setting up a website or blog to speak about your intentions is a lovely organic way of creating a platform you can then introduce your products from. Similarly, curating a beautiful Instagram feed or finding and joining relevant Twitter parties can really spread the word about it. Think laterally about how you can use your products. If you have beautiful illustrations, will you offer them as prints, greetings cards, t-shirts, phone covers? Social media can be useful for getting opinions before investing in getting a product created.
But don’t forget about online market places such as Etsy, Folksy, Red Bubble and Society6. These are all places you can sell your wares and will almost immediately introduce you to millions of engaged shoppers. I currently have an Etsy store for my accessories side project and have found it to be extremely useful at getting my products seen and making sales!
Reach Out to Other Creatives
The best part of launching a small business is the community. So get to know other, like-minded creatives and see where it takes you. You could find a mentor or a collaborator, or just get some genius tips to help you along the way. Reach out to people operating in related areas – if you are a writer, could you pair with a small graphic designer to create something unique? There are always areas where small businesses can help each other out, gain exposure and save on costs – another area where your creating thinking skills can help!
Sort Out Your Tax
It’s essential not to get stung in the future by not having set your tax arrangements up properly, so start off on the right note by registering with HMRC as a sole trader. You aren’t required to have a separate business account at this stage, but its advisable to keep good records. There’s lots of free invoicing software that you can use, even from your smartphone, so keep a clear record of any income.
Enjoy embracing your creative freedoms and fulfilling your potential!
*This is a collaborative post