Are you a creative business owner with dreams of success? Are you ready to begin your business journey?
Creative business owners and first-time entrepreneurs alike face the challenge of finding a balance between creativity and profitability in their businesses.
These entrepreneurs must have an effective and efficient approach to creating, launching, marketing, and growing their businesses.
This guide will provide a comprehensive look at all aspects of successfully running a creative business. From ideas on how to creatively monetize your craft or service to strategies on how to expand your customer base and market yourself effectively, this guide offers everything you need to know as a creative-minded entrepreneur looking to become successful.
Learn how you can maximize your unique skillset and tap into new opportunities while ensuring the success of your business vision.
The Core Pillars Of Any Business
The core pillars of any business are the foundation upon which success is built.
As a creative business owner, it’s important to understand the key elements that make up a successful venture.
These four core pillars consist of product, legal systems, communication, and cash flow. Like the fire triangle in chemistry that you may or may not remember being taught in school: oxygen, heat, and fuel.
If you take one of these elements away, you simply don't have fire. If you take one of these business pillars away, you don't have a business.
1. Product: have something of value to sell
A business's main objective is to deliver a product or service of value to its customers or clients.
You need to be really clear on exactly what value you're going to provide to your customers, and when they have worked with you or purchased from you, how they are going to feel. Creatives often find themselves trying to solve multiple problems for multiple people at the same time because they have so many great ideas.
If you are not providing any value to customers, they simply won't return to you, recommend your products or services to friends, or even buy from you in the first place.
It is therefore imperative that you use your entrepreneurial creativity to work on developing products and services that provide greater value to people than anything else on the market.
Below are some questions to ask yourself to help outline what value you are providing to customers.
- Why would someone not buy your product or service?
- What will they say to her friends after using the product or working with you?
- If someone were to describe your product or service in three words, what would they be?
- What makes your product or service superior to others?
Once you are able to answer these points on adding value with ease and clarity, you'll be one step closer to turning your passion into profit.
2. Legal: protect your assets and yourself
I know what you're most likely thinking—this sounds like the boring bit! If you really want to make it, it can be tedious.
However, having the required legalities in place will ensure both you and your business are protected from uncertainties, and when things go wrong, as they always do, you can sit back and relax a little more than you would if you didn't have them in place. It will certainly be worth your initial investment!
What's more, you'll save yourself time and a lot of money by not having to spend hours on end dealing with legal issues that could easily be avoided by having your legal affairs in order.
First of all, it's important to get the legal company structure right.
The type of legal company structure you select will be determined by the type of business you run and the size you hope to achieve.
Below are the four different types of legal structures in the UK that you could set up your business as.
1. Sole trader
Becoming a Sole Trader or what's sometimes known as a "sole proprietor," is the easiest form of business registration. You are your own boss and need to register your business with HMRC. Everything in the business is handled by you.
You can keep all profits as income; however, you must pay taxes and national insurance via a self-assessment tax return. There is no limit to how much you can earn; however, in higher tax brackets, your taxes may increase.
As a sole trader, you are personally liable for all debts, and your personal assets, such as your house and car, are potentially at risk if it were all to go wrong!
When two or more people join together to create a business, it is called a partnership, and all members will share any profits or losses.
Together, they take on the risks, costs, benefits, and responsibilities of managing a business.
Unincorporated partnerships involve self-employed partners who are personally liable for any debts or losses incurred by the business.
The partners in a partnership are jointly liable for another partner's negligence, and they must equally share both profits and losses.
The profits will be split according to the agreed ratio, with each partner paying taxes on their portion.
3. Limited liabilty partnership (LLP)
A limited-liability partnership is like a regular partnership but with limited liability for each partner, depending on how much they have invested in the business.
Companies House and HMRC need to be notified of the LLP's registration. Every year, financial statements must be prepared and submitted. An LLP can be incorporated with two or more members, and a member can be an individual or a company.
For LLP members, their duties as well as the division of profits are outlined in an agreement. Additionally, they must file their annual Self Assessment Tax Return and pay income tax on their portion of partnership earnings as well as national insurance to HM Revenue & Customs.
4. Limited company
A limited company is a business that is privately managed, owned by shareholders, and operated by directors.
The company is independent and has its own set of legal rights and responsibilities. The business is responsible for its endeavors, and its monetary assets are independent from those of its owners.
Once corporate tax is paid, the company keeps any money made from profits. Only then can the profits be distributed to shareholders in the form of dividends.
A limited company can be formed either through shares or by guarantee. It must fulfil its regular yearly reporting and administrative obligations to Companies House and HMRC.
In conclusion, there are a few different types of legal business setup. You just need to make sure which one works best for you, as it will save you a lot of work down the line to set it up correctly the first time.
Insurance provides protection against potential losses due to circumstances such as fire, theft, accidents, and natural disasters. As the level of risk increases, so does the cost of premiums.
It is important to purchase insurance for your property, equipment, inventory, stock, and other assets in order to protect them from loss or damage when you first start out.
Intellectual property (IP)
Intellectual property refers to anything created by an individual that has economic value. IP includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, domain names, logos, slogans, brand names, designs, software, websites, apps, songs, books, recipes, inventions, etc.
Patents are granted to inventors who come up with new ideas or processes that could potentially benefit society. Patents protect the inventor's idea and
Health and safety
The term "health and safety" is generally used to describe occupational health and safety and relates to the prevention of accidents and ill health for employees and those who may be affected by their work.
Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements (NDA)
A confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract that prevents the disclosure of certain types of confidential information.
Confidential information may include the company's business plan, financial data, product designs, customer lists, and other proprietary information.
Not all of these legal elements might be relevant to your business right now; however, they are something to keep in mind so that they can help iron out some of the bumps in the road.
3. Systems: control and scale
If you are looking to grow and scale your creative business, systems are key. Systems allow you to automate repetitive tasks, manage multiple clients, and streamline operations.
Automation allows you to focus on growing your business rather than doing everything manually. Moreover, being a creative business owner allows you to think of ways you could do what you do now differently so that you could automate it.
For example, as the founder of a digital marketing agency, managing multiple clients on a regular basis can be tough and demanding; however, you could use your business owner creativity to create a system that manages all of your clients' needs and enables you to focus on creating beautiful content.
Streamlining and automating operations results in making every aspect of your business run smoothly and more efficiently.
As a result, you save time and money, allowing you to focus on working on your business rather than in it. And working on your business allows you to focus on what you need to do to scale it.
Outlined below are some examples of what you could automate within your business.
Examples of what you could automate:
- Email marketing
- Lead capturing
- Spend Management
- Customer segmentation
- Social media
- Workflow tasking
There is a plethora of online software out there to enable you to automate emails, capture leads, manage your spend, or analyse your marketing spend, for example.
The key priority before implementing any of them is to have a good understanding of what you're trying to achieve in the first place.
4. Communication: raise money and awareness
Communication, both internally and externally, is a vital element of a business, and there are countless times where projects and even the future of a business have been put at risk simply due to poor communication.
As the old saying goes, "communication is life's biggest failure." If you're not effectively communicating in and out of your creative business, it is highly likely to struggle and fail.
Internal communication is essential for keeping everyone informed about what's going on within your business, what they are all required to do, and when they need help. This is commonly done by having clear goals and objectives, regular meetings, and using technology to make sure everyone knows what's happening.
External communication is important too, as it is essential to regularly communicate with customers, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders. Strong levels of consistency in customer engagement are imperative for growing a brand.
Whether that's through the use of a website, social media presence, email list, blog, newsletter, etc., you are essentially communicating with people outside of your business.
Marketing falls under the pillar of communication, as it is how the business communicates with existing and potential customers and clients.
Marketing includes things such as advertising, public relations, branding, sales, lead generation, content creation, etc. Without an effective marketing strategy, your business will drift around in search of sales like a pirate ship looking for gold.
Entrepreneurial creativity is a key element in the creation of marketing collateral as it enables engaging and unique informative content to be produced, which will hopefully result in greater sales.
If you don't have customers, you don't have sales, and if you don't have sales, you don't have a business.
5. Cash flow: develop your ability to sell
Beautifully rolling on from my last point, "no sales means no business," Developing a strong cash flow is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. You'll want to develop a plan to generate income from day one.
If you don't have a solid plan in place to generate revenue, you may find yourself struggling to pay bills, paying off debt, or even worse, closing shop.
It's also worth noting that if you are unable to generate enough income to cover your expenses, then you won't be able to grow and then scale your business.
If you are thinking, "Well, I don't have any products to sell yet," then you can use your entrepreneurial creativity to find a way to pay for your initial expenses, such as an office hire cost or that software.
Could you have a part-time job to help bring in a little bit of money? Could you make things that you know how to make, for which there is a need, which would then provide money to fuel the business that you want to set up and run in the long run?
From my entrepreneurial experience over the years, you can have a strong business structure and employ great creative thinkers; however, if you are generating no sales over a period of time longer than you can afford, you will have no business!
Make sure you have a plan for your cash flow, and have fun being creative in how you generate it!
The Key Job Roles You Need In Your Creative Business
When it comes to running a successful creative business, having the right people in the right roles is essential.
Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may need to hire a variety of different professionals with different business titles and job titles to help you achieve your goals.
Having these job roles filled and in place within your business is essential for its long-term growth. However, when initially starting, you don't need to have these jobs filled.
You as an entrepreneur just need to have an understanding of what their role is within the business, and it's up to you to fulfil some of the job duties as required until you can generate enough revenue to pay for someone's salary.
The managing director is the leader of the business and is responsible for setting the overall direction, business operations, project management, strategy, and vision. They are also responsible for ensuring the business model is sustainable.
The managing director should have a strong understanding of all aspects of the business and be able to make decisions quickly and effectively.
They should also be able to motivate their team, delegate tasks, and ensure that the business is running smoothly. With the pressures of being in charge of the ship, being a managing director can be a stressful position to be in. At OCCO London we have developed the morning mindset journal to help reduce your stress, boost your mood, and enable you to be more productive and focus on the things that matter most.
Any business in the creative industry realistically needs one of these. A creative director is responsible for leading the creative direction of the business and ensuring that all creative projects are completed to a high standard. They should have a strong understanding of the creative process and be able to provide guidance and direction to their team.
The creative director should have a carton full of creative juices and be able to easily come up with innovative ideas and bring those ideas to life.
A salesperson is a key role in any creative business and should have one of the highest returns on investment. They are responsible for generating revenue by selling products or services to customers. Salespeople need to have excellent communication skills as well as an understanding of the customer’s needs and wants.
They should also be able to build relationships with customers and close deals quickly and efficiently.
In order to be successful, salespeople need to be able to think on their feet and be creative in their approach.
Marketers are responsible for creating and executing marketing campaigns that will help promote the business to the ideal customer. They need to have a good understanding of the target audience, as well as an understanding of the different marketing channels available.
Marketers should also be creative in their approach and be able to come up with new ideas that will help drive sales.
With nearly everybody accessing the Internet on a daily basis, web developers play a pivotal role in any business. They are responsible for creating and maintaining the website of a business.
Web developers should also be able to troubleshoot any technical issues that may arise with the website. They should also be able to optimize the website for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
Graphic designers are responsible for creating visual content that will help promote the business. They need to have a strong understanding of design principles as well as an eye for detail.
Graphic designers should be able to create visuals that are both aesthetically pleasing and effective in communicating the message of the business. For example, a graphic designer is the person who designs leaflets or business cards.
They should also be able to work with different types of software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
This may or may not be applicable to your business, depending on whether you make physical products or not. If you don't make physical products, you can skip this bit.
Production designers are responsible for creating the physical elements of a product or service. They need to have an understanding of materials, manufacturing processes, and design principles in order to create products that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Production designers should also be able to work with different types of software, such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs. They should also be able to troubleshoot any issues that may arise with the production process.
These are just some of the roles that are essential for any creative business owner to be successful.
Bookkeepers and accountants are essential for any business. They are responsible for keeping track of the financial records of a business, such as income, expenses, and taxes.
Bookkeepers need to have an understanding of accounting principles and be able to use accounting software in order to accurately record financial transactions.
Accountants are responsible for preparing financial statements and providing advice on tax matters. They should have a strong understanding of tax laws and regulations in order to ensure that the business is compliant with all applicable laws.
It is important to remember that each role requires different skills and knowledge, so it is crucial to find people who have the right combination of skills and experience.
You also need to develop your skills so you have a top-level understanding of them so you can at least have a conversation with your team and understand what's going on, or not going on, as the case may be!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions on how to be a successful creative business owner
What skills do I need to be a successful creative business owner?
To be a successful creative business owner, you need to have a wide range of skills in a broad selection of areas.
This is so that when you are having a meeting with a company that is pitching to take control of your marketing efforts or you're speaking with individuals within your business that head up the sales, you know what is going on and whether or not what they are saying actually makes sense and will actually help your business.
You don't need to know everything in every little detail, as that is simply impossible.
You just need to know a little bit about everything that's going on so that you can keep a firm grasp on what's going on, enabling you to steer the ship in the right direction, so to speak.
What is it like to be a small business owner?
Being a small business owner can be both rewarding and challenging.
On the one hand, you have the freedom to make decisions about how your business is run and what products or services you offer.
On the other hand, you are responsible for all aspects of running a business, from managing finances to marketing and customer service.
A key thing to note is that for every creative entrepreneur running a business, whether they are running a landscaping business, a handyman business, or a breakfast business, the trials and tribulations will be very different simply due to the different types of businesses they are.
The key to success as a small business owner is staying organized, having a clear plan for how you want to grow your business, and keeping a close eye on your physical and mental health, as if either of these starts failing, your business is highly likely to wobble or fail.
How do creative business owners manage their business?
Creative business owners must be organised and have a clear plan for how they want to grow their business.
They need to have an understanding of the financials, such as income, expenses, and taxes. They should also be familiar with marketing strategies and customer service practices.
It is important for entrepreneurs to stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments in order to remain competitive .
Finally, entrepreneurs should take the time to network and build relationships with other business owners in order to gain insight into best practises and new opportunities that they might not have thought of if they remained sitting at their desk.
What does "creative" mean in business?
"Creative" in business refers to the use of innovative ideas and strategies to solve problems, create new products or services, or increase efficiency.
Creative thinking is essential for any successful business as it allows entrepreneurs to come up with unique solutions that can help them stand out from the competition. Creative thinking also helps businesses stay ahead of the curve by anticipating customer needs and developing new products or services that meet those needs .
What are the benefits of being a creative business owner?
Being a creative business owner has many benefits.
Firstly, it allows you to stand out from the competition by offering unique solutions and products that your customers will appreciate.
Secondly, it encourages innovation and growth within your business, as you are constantly looking for new ways to improve and expand.
Thirdly, being creative can help you attract more customers, as people are drawn to businesses that offer something different. Finally, it can help you stay ahead of the competition by anticipating customer needs and developing new products or services that meet those needs.
What advice would you give to a new business owner?
As a new business owner, it is important to stay organised and have a clear plan for how you want to grow your business.
Make sure you understand the financials, such as income, expenses, and taxes. Familiarize yourself with marketing strategies and customer service practises so that you can effectively reach out to potential customers.
Additionally, as a creative business owner, it is also important to know how to set business goals to help you achieve what you have always dreamt of.
Don't forget to reach out and connect with other business owners in order to learn about new strategies and gain access to opportunities you might have missed if you stayed focused on your own work.
In conclusion, there are multiple elements that creative business owners need to be aware of and have an understanding of to enable them to succeed with greater ease and less friction.
You will now have a comprehensive understanding of the core business pillars of product, legal systems, communication, and cash flow, along with the key job roles you need in your creative business.
By knowing these, you are now one step ahead of the rest and one step closer to achieving those entrepreneurial goals of yours.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment below.