5 useful tips for starting a creative business
Contributor: Carolyn Dailey, Founder at Creative Entrepreneurs
Are you thinking of starting a creative business? Entrepreneurs in the creative sector are unique in several key ways.
Here’s what you need to know before you get started.
1. Be commercial about your creative idea
The motivation for starting a creative business is normally driven by a burning creative idea, rather than profit. This is a significant difference in outlook that creative entrepreneurs face, in contrast to the traditional entrepreneurial community, who tend to be solely focussed primarily on profit-making. This can make engaging with traditional investors, bank managers and potential partners a little tricky, but not impossible.
In communicating with the traditional business community, it’s key that creative entrepreneurs gain skills and confidence in communicating the business case underpinning their creative idea including how their idea is either doing something new (i.e. filling a gap in the market) or doing something better (e.g. more beautifully, more inexpensively, more quickly).
They also need to articulate their target audience, how big that audience could potentially be and who their competitors are while giving some robust financial projections – revenues and costs – over the next 3-5 years.
2. Protect your idea, legally
Businesses in the creative sector are normally based on ideas that spring from the human imagination. Thus, it’s likely that your business model will depend on the protection of these ideas, otherwise known as intellectual property. Make sure you invest in the correct legal protection from day 1 to ensure that your ideas cannot be copied or stolen by others.
Although legal advice on trademarks and copyright – and possibly patents – can be expensive, it’s crucial to prioritise spending in this area as, if you cannot protect your ideas as a creative entrepreneur, your business has little value. To save on legal fees, it’s a good idea to do as much research as you can online, or through friends, peers or mentors, so that you can narrow down in advance the specific questions you need to ask a lawyer.
3. Find a support network
Starting a creative business is an incredibly fulfilling experience, but can feel isolating and exasperating at times. Finding a network of like-minded Creative Entrepreneurs for you to connect with and share tips, contacts, anecdotes and learning with can transform your productivity and make you more resilient. Try searching for existing networks in local business groups on Facebook or meetup.com, or join Creative Entrepreneurs as a member. Learn more about our networking and learning membership platform here: https://www.creativeentrepreneursmembers.co
4. Hire in the skills you need
For many creative people, who tend to have been trained in creative disciplines vs. business, starting a business involves a lot learning that needs to happen quickly in areas they are likely unfamiliar with, for example marketing, finance, HR and management.
While it is undoubtedly important to have a basic grasp of all of these key business areas, it’s also the job a good entrepreneur to constantly evaluate where it makes sense to outsource the finer details of these areas to people who are already skilled in them.
Adopting a DIY approach to every aspect of your business can be a massive drain of time and energy and can cause inefficiency and stall growth. While always overseeing all aspects, don’t be afraid to find expert support in the form of freelancers, apps and digital platforms and employees, to help your creative business grow.
5. Make the most of an exciting time
This is a very exciting time to be a Creative Entrepreneur, particularly in the UK. First, as creativity is about making intuitive leaps and connecting unexpected dots, it cannot be automated and replaced by AI, which makes the work of Creative Entrepreneurs future-proof. This unique aspect to creative entrepreneurship has piqued the interest of many, including investors, who are keen to seek business opportunities that will not be replaced by robots.
Additionally, the UK government is waking up to the huge economic value of the creative sector – the UK’s fastest growing and second biggest contributor to the UK economy behind finance – particularly in a post-Brexit world. We at Creative Entrepreneurs have been invited by policy makers at No.10 Downing Street to help inform their work to better support entrepreneurship in the creative sector, which is incredibly exciting.
Although it’s early days, with this increased interest in creative businesses, there’s never been a better time to be a Creative Entrepreneur!