So you’ve decided to pivot from hobby to business. Congrats you creativepreneur you!
And maybe I’m about to drop some tough love on you in this post, but I just want to make sure you’re starting your business off on the right foot.
Owning a creative business can be hard sometimes. Owning any business has its moments, but creatives sometimes have the added layer of… well, being creative. That means paralyzing perfectionism, comparison-itis (yeah that’s a real thing lol) and fighting against the thing society has told us for years - that you can’t make a living as an artist.
Lucky us right?
So I’m here to make sure you’re not making these mistakes in your creative business. You can earn a living doing something you’re passionate about - your art. But make sure you’re not doing any of these things, ok?
Mistake #1: Not Starting
You’ve picked a business name, did some research about the products you’d like to sell and maybe even sketched out some logos. But then… crickets. Not because no one is buying, but because that’s as far as it got.
Somewhere along the way, the initial excitement wore off and doubt crept in. And you let it. You started to doubt your skills (when really you have skillz - with a Z) because of social media and decided to use the excuse of being too busy with work. Then your business never got off the ground.
But what’s the real reason? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of “failure.” Fear of not being good enough.
You made steps to start a creative business. You already put in some work. So why stop now? What’s it costing you not to at least try?
Give yourself a real shot and if you need it - a deadline. Tell yourself you’ll get your business running by X date and give it your all for X long. Try. You never know how posting a listing for a mug can actually change your business (and in turn, your life). You’ll only know for sure if you start.
Mistake #2: No Systems
Maybe you’re not techy. Or maybe you think you’ve got your organization down with a planner and Google Cal.
It’s a great start, but those aren’t really systems. By systems I mean how you use tools like those listed below to organize and streamline your business. I also mean processes you follow every single time a potential client reaches out or someone places an order.
Using a CRM tool like Dubsado to track what stage a client is in and to send invoices
Automating your bookkeeping with Quickbooks
Keeping all internal and client/product updated streamlined in Asana
Using Airtable to track product inventory
Why is this important? Because after the initial set up, most of this ^^^ is set it and forget it. And why is that important? Because you want to be efficient and work ON your biz and not IN it.
It may feel like it’s a lot to do at first, but I promise you can do it and it’s not hard. Commit to setting up your systems over a weekend or a week and you’ll feel so much better that it’s done, but also in place.
Mistake #3: Not investing in yourself and/or your business
Investing doesn’t need to mean $$$$.
It can mean investing in systems (see #2) that are free, but you’re investing time to set it up. It can mean investing in a course to learn about email list growth or Pinterest. It can mean investing in a monthly membership or coaching for personalized help.
So why invest instead of DIY-ing it and disappearing into the black hole that is the internet? Because you’re wasting time Googling all the things when you can work with an expert or learn from someone who specializes in what you want to learn.
It also comes down to:
1) You cannot run a business with $0 in cost.
2) Investing means you’re serious. You’re in this. You’re giving your business your all and paying for things you need to show that this isn’t a hobby.
It doesn’t have to be a $10K coaching program. But don’t be scared to pay $5 for G Suite to get a more professional email address (think email@example.com vs firstname.lastname@example.org).
For example, don’t waste hours searching for a cheaper alternative to Adobe Photoshop when industry standard is Photoshop. Just pay for the subscription and you’ll save hours searching for and trying alternatives.
If anything, use these investments as fuel to start making more revenue in your business.
And if you’re interested in some personal guidance, check out my membership site Creative Biz Bootcamps
Mistake #4: Giving up too early
Maybe you listed five items on Etsy and have had two clicks in the last week. Time to call it quits right?
Come on, if you’re at the point to listing products, you’ve come too far to give up now. You have to know that starting a business is going to have its ups and downs, but you also need to try AND have patience.
Sure, there are stories of people in the online space making $10K a month and more, but that didn’t happen in one day. Every single person you think is “killing it” out there started where you are - needing an offering, figuring out email lists and marketing tactics, getting uncomfortable, but still pushing through.
So how do you get from here to there? Patience, tweaking and pivoting if needed. But you’ll never get there if you stop after you don’t experience some viral product, offering or social media post.
See #1 if you need to give yourself a deadline. Just don’t quit before that.
Mistake #5: Not selling or putting yourself out there
What’s one difference between a hobbyist who wants a biz and a business owner? The business owner is selling their products or services. A hobbyist is secretly hoping for a sale, but doesn’t share that their product is for sale, their service is available or that they’re now officially a business and ready for customers and clients.
You can’t expect a rush of clients and customers if no one knows about your business. You may think you’re making it obvious, but I’m going to bet you could sell it a bit more.
So how do you start? Try a mix of soft selling (sharing your work, some client work - even if it’s a made up client) and intentional selling (saying you have X spots available, announcing a sale). Make it a goal to accomplish one sales action X number of times a week. Show up for your business (and share it) and you’ll start to see results.
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