When I started my business I had no idea what I was doing. It was mostly a dream, but a dream that I knew failure wasn’t really an option. For this topic I will speak from my own experience, because that is all I really have to go off of. So let me give you my top tips to get started.
The very first thing you need to do when starting a creative business is to have a why behind what you do. Transitioning from a hobby to a business is often a difficult one. Your mindset is going to shift. Part of being a creative and owning your own business is knowing that there is often an ebb and flow to the business. There are extremely successful creative businesses which have consistent sales, but when you are starting out this will most likely be a scattered income.
One month you may make a bunch of money while the next month you don’t have any sales. It is important to have a why because if your why is not deeply rooted, when times get tough, or you receive a bad review, or you are wanting to take things to the next level but are scared, you will probably throw in the towel.
The second thing you need to do to start a business is to create the product and price properly. It is entirely up to you if you want to price cheap and make a ton of items, or price higher and make less items. When pricing you must take into account taxes in your state, find out how much you need to set aside. If you are going to write off business expenses you will need to pay the taxes to go along with it. In California I set aside 30% of what I make for taxes. I usually do not need to pay that amount, but I would rather be safe than sorry.
Keep track of your income and expenses. One thing I wish I had done better was tracking this in my first year of business. You can write off phone bills, wifi, some gas expenses, costs of goods to create your product and so much more. Knowing this and keeping track will save you money in the long run.
When you know that 30% of what you make will be going to taxes, this really helps put your price point in perspective. Let’s say you price a product at $100 dollars for your time and the supplies you need to create it and ship it. I think of it this way. I am not making 100 dollars. I am making $35 dollars. I put 30% aside for taxes, 35% goes back into my business, and 35% is in my pocket/savings. Now the question is does that $35 seem like a reasonable return on the investment of your time and energy?
Build your brand not a business. Let people get to know you. Who you are, what you are about, find your tribe. Connect with your customers and put yourself out there. In the beginning you will probably have to make some things for free. Reach out to people who have more visibility than you and offer them what you make for free for a shootout on their social media account.
Building a brand is key, because in life having the ability to pivot as needed is important. If you have a business where you make candles and that is all you post about, but one day you don’t want to make candles anymore, it will be difficult to transfer that customer base to whatever else you start making. If you have a brand people what to buy from YOU. I post about my daughter, cooking, travels, tapestries and mindfulness, I am a a human with many interests and I try to reflect that in my social media accounts. A majority of people follow me only for my tapestries, but many people follow me because they find my life inspiring. If I decided to stop making tapestries and pivot, I would loose a lot of the people who follow me, but not everyone. The people who truly connect with me and what I am about would stay. Those are the people you want to invest your time and energy into.
Just start. The hardest part is to take the leap. You don’t have to quit your day job right away, but just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you are going to learn and make mistakes and that is part of the process. Unless you have a mentor to guide you, you are going to learn trial by error. The pieces you make in the beginning will not be the same as what you make in 3 years and that is good. You are growing, learning and evolving.
If it scares you do it. That’s a motto of mine. If I am afraid to do something I force myself to do it. I was TERRIFIED of making a course, so I went and did it. I was terrified of creating a punch needle kit, so I did it. I was terrified of pricing myself properly, so I did it. I find that fear is a compass for me. I ask myself why am I afraid, am I worried about what others will think of me? okay that’s not a reason not to do something. Am I worried I will fail? Thats still not a reason to not do something.
Take small steps every day towards your goals and dreams and soon you will see the results.