You might remember Breanna, the founder of Scout & Catalogue, who I featured in #TYWBD. Breanna recently started a series of articles on creative entrepreneurship on her blog. To me, Breanna is one of the most admirable and savvy creative entrepreneurs with the most incredible style.
Luckily, Bre allowed to repost one of the posts of her series here. If you want to learn more about her learnings, definitely check out her wonderful blog and if you love fashion then also her Instagram.
There is no doubt that ‘entrepreneur’ has become one of the most covetable job titles in popular culture these days. Shaking off the difficult boss, running a self directed project, the potential of making more money than any 9-5 position could offer – all of these things sound amazing. What is seldom talked about is how often and how much running a small business can suck. The insane hours, the poverty level income (at least at the start), the consistent and terrifying leaps of faith you take as your business finds it’s place in the market, the isolation of working on your own to accomplish your goals. Starting a business is no small endeavor and, not only that, running a business often has nothing to do with the product or service that called you into action in the first place.
One of my favourite questions I have been asked (although by that time I was 3 years deep into S&C so my ship had already sailed) was, ‘Where are you happiest in your business – the creative work or the business work?’ The implication being that if you are deeply passionate about the ‘it’ of your business – you get lost in the craft of cooking, brewing a perfect cup of coffee, designing the most ergonomic chair, or any other product or service that rocks your world and you are currently thinking about developing a business around – you may want to think twice about forging out into the lonely world of entrepreneurship alone. Contrary to popular belief, creative genius alone does not a successful business make. In order to have success in business you need to have passion about BUSINESS. You need to get jazzed about writing business plans, pitching ideas to potential investors/partners, delving into market research, developing systems that allow your company to grow and flourish, promoting the work, closing deals – all those business buzz words – you need to LOVE them. This is a huge generalization, but most creative types are not also skilled with excel spreadsheets or firm handshakes.
Before you dive headfirst into your own venture I would recommend looking deep inside of yourself and honestly asking where your passion lies. I still do this on a regular basis. I am someone that is decently interested in business but my true love is, and always has been, the creative. Almost all of my disappointments with S&C over the past 6 years have come from only having one eye on the business road while the rest of my attention was spent watching the gorgeous ‘creative vision’ sunset out the side window. As someone that took FIVE YEARS to start looking at the balance of skills it takes to run a successful business more closely I would highly recommend setting yourself up properly from the very beginning. Luckily, for everyone out there with talent and drive I have a very simple recommendation for you:
Simple but effective.
Broken down into steps it would look something like this:
1) Dream what your business will become. Think as big as you can. Think 1 year out, 5 years out, 10 years out. Really get into this. What are you selling? How much money do you want in your life? What size of company do you want your business to grow into? Where do you want to live? How many hours a week do you want to work?
2) Look at what you have to offer this company. Where is your passion? What are you better at than anyone else? Be honest. Look at what your weaknesses are. What work do you avoid and put off until tomorrow? Be honest.
3) Find someone who is strong where you are weak to partner with. While you’re at it find a few people to partner with. If you have a great product but no idea how to set up your business framework – there are tons of people out there with business degrees and a passion for start-ups. If business is your thing but you’re stuck without a ‘big idea’ – there are tons of people out there with great vision but no idea how to translate it into reality. If crunching numbers is your passion but the corporate world seems staid and predictable there are tons of people out there with dicey books that need keeping and vastly varying year ends to be organized (seriously though – good small business focused accountants and bookkeepers – where are you? There is a hole in this market that is crying out to be filled). You get the point.
If partnership doesn’t feel like the right avenue for you (I don’t have one) then I highly recommend bringing on consultants. One of my biggest regrets is not building an effective community of people to help me run S&C from the very beginning. I thought I could do it all. Guys – I could not. Not only will your partners or consultants balance out your skill set and give your business a much better chance of success but your process will be all the more enjoyable along the way.
On a side note; it's been a bit quiet here lately but I have finally finished writing My Creative (Side) Business over the weekend and sent it to Diana to start editing. I will be in touch about this very soon!