Help me – I’ve finally decided to stop being a starving artist and create a profitable business… Help me with some Creative Entrepreneur Tips Please!”
It’s a question that’s been asked a few times over the last few months so I thought it was time to share a few tips on the topic of becoming a Well-Paid Creative Entrepreneur.
Here are a few suggestions.
1. Decide how much money you’d like to make this year.
In the corporate world it’s called a revenue projection; how many units will be sold and the money generated from those sales. Creative entrepreneurs need to make the same type of calculations. By deciding how much money you want/need to make in a year, you then know how many units of your product or service, you’ll need to sell at a particular price.
2. Do your genius work and marketing—outsource the rest.
Your genius work is the work that enlivens you—that you do to serve your customers. Marketing is critical to you developing a trusting relationship with your customers. So, if you’re a photographer, your main goal is to take photographs and talk to your customers. Ditto if you’re a yoga instructor–teach asanas and educate potential clients about the benefits of your studio. Hire a virtual assistant or a freelancer to create your Powerpoint presentation or design your website. If money is tight, get an intern who can work for college credit.
3. Plan some marketing activity everyday. Marketing is nothing more than having regular conversations with your potential customers. This isn’t about spamming people with sales material. Marketing is providing people (your tribe and your potential customers) with USEFUL content to resolve an issue of concern to them. Find a way to stay in touch in a way that’s comfortable for you: ezine, podcast, video, blog, free teleclasses— and use it.
4. Tell Your Truth and Attract Customers
Suze Orman provides financial advice, so does David Bach (“The Automatic Millionaire”) however each person has an individual style and money philosophy that resonates with different people. People want information delivered in a way that appeals to their tastes, beliefs and their circumstances. Your marketplace advantage lies in expressing yourself authentically and in not being afraid to have an opinion.
5. Write an ebook or print book to showcase your expertise and attract new clients.
Writing a book is an excellent way to position yourself as an expert in your field. It allows you to command hire fees and can help you to gain media exposure. A book is also an inexpensive way for potential customers to sample your work and ideas.
6. Establish a separate business account.
If your intention is to be a “professional” entrepreneur, not an amateur you will designate a banking account for your business transactions. Don’t commingle your personal funds with your business funds.
7. Be a professional—show up to work everyday and produce.
Being the boss has its perks but the key to success is knowing that you’ve still got to work. On your work days, don’t putz around— be prepared to give it your all.
8. Get clear about who you want to serve–your ideal customer.
A well-paid creative entrepreneur knows she’s not supposed to cater to everyone. Finding your ideal client, one who is part of your “tribe” involves identifying the type of person that MOST needs your product or service AND who you enjoy engaging. In many cases you and your ideal client will share similar characteristics and concerns.
9. Use social media (FB, Twitter) and offline conferences to find your ideal clients and to stay tuned into to their issues.
Instead of thinking about Facebook and Twitter as places where people talk about what they ate for breakfast or rage against the machine, think about them as meeting places for potential customer and business partners. Use the search functions to find people who may be interested in your product or service and begin a dialogue. You can also use Facebook and Twitter ask questions as part of your market research. You can also use it to find out what current event topics are resonating with your peeps.
10. Identify the main problem(s) that your customers want to resolve.
People pay to have problems solved. People pay to improve the quality of their lives. People ONLY pay for the things that really matter to them.
A well-paid creative entrepreneur offers the type of transformation their ideal clients are willing to pay for.
11. Turn away customers who aren’t aren’t a good fit for your business or your temperment.
We’ve all got bills to pay but you undermine your business and your happiness by taking on projects (or clients) who require you to do tasks outside of your genius work. You also do yourself and your business a disserve by retaining clients who are emotionally draining. To salvage a relationship, offer a non-ideal client a referral.
12. Change course if you’re going in the wrong direction.
If something isn’t working don’t be afraid to quit. Staying the course simply to avoid embarrassment is about your ego. A short term loss of face is better than a long-term financial failure.
13. Perfection is overrated—do your best then ship it.
If you wait until you’ve addressed every kink you’ll never have anything to sell. You’ll be broke. That’s the point of BETA versions. Learn to improve as you go along.
14. Get all the facts and advice that you can and then trust your instincts.
Statistics and precedents are important however they look backward in time. Moreover they don’t necessarily factor in you and your particular business or innovation. Conduct your due diligence and then do what feels right for you.
15. Charge enough so that you’re not resentful of your clients.
If you are charging too little for your product or service unconsciously you’ll see your customers as leeches. You’ll feel that they’re taking advantage of your newness, niceness or financial desperation. It’s best to determine the price point where you can do the work and feel good about servicing your clients–and stick to it.
16. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth.
When you work for yourself your fee is not solely the amount of time that you spend with your client. It also includes preparation time and the overhead costs that make your service or product available to your customers. Moreover, your fee should be based on improvement that you are helping your client make to her life or business and NOT the face (or phone) time spend with them or on their project.
17. Create more than one income stream.
It’s simple. Don’t put all your money eggs in one basket. If one source dries up, if you have additional incomes sources you won’t find yourself in dire financial straits.
18. Build relationships to support you and your business.
You can’t develop a financially viable business in isolation. You’ll need both personal and business support networks to help you to navigate new terrain and to survive your inevitable crisis of faith.
19. Invest in a coach or mentor to help you reach your goals faster.
There is no champion athlete who has not trained with a coach. There is also no well-paid creative entrepreneur who has not received counsel from a more experienced business owner. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel when there are people ready, willing and able to help with your business. Ignorance is VERY costly in terms of loss of money and momentum.
20. Stay focused and avoid the shiny ball syndrome
There’s always something new. Some new theory, some new product, some new method, some new discovery, some new “leading authority”…on and on. You shouldn’t stick your head in the sand but neither should you hop on every “new thing.” Quality and consistency are key to creating a profitable business. The new thing should complement or advance what you’ve already got going on….not unnecessarily up-end it.
21. Regularly replenish your mind, body and spirit
Creative entrepreneurs are the life blood of their businesses. Tired and emotionally depleted people can’t create their best work. It’s therefore important that you take time daily, weekly and monthly to nurture yourself and to engage in the activities that enrich your life .
I’ve love for you to add your creative entrepreneur tips to the list. Leave your in the comment section below.
Photo Credits: Beverly Hill Porsch and Bartmaguire