Let’s get one thing straight: We think you’re great. Seriously.
However, we’re also pretty sure you’re going to make some mistakes along your journey to creative glory, we’ve all been there! Which is why we’ve compiled this list of mistakes almost every young creative business makes. Have a read (and a good look at your current processes) and with any luck, we’ll have helped you avoid a few of the most common stumbling blocks…
IGNORING NON-CREATIVE TASKS
Did you know that around 90% of the workload for a creative business is non-design related? Crazy, right?! And waaaay too easy to put off – after all, you didn’t become a designer to do administrative work!
Unfortunately, a lot of those ‘the opposite of exciting’ day-to-day things like invoicing, liaising with suppliers, and maintaining your website are necessary to avoid negatively affecting your cash flow (read: the dollars you need to be able to do more creating). Letting them get too far behind leaves you with some pretty serious financial risk.
Our recommendation is to create an ideal day, blocking out periods of time to just power through those awful admin tasks. You’ll be surprised to find it far more efficient than ignoring tasks and just putting out administrative fires as they start.
Still can’t even? Try some of these helpful productivity platforms:
TradeGecko: Real-time inventory and e-commerce management
Trello: To-do lists and task boards in an easy to see visual format
LastPass: Remembers all of your passwords so you don’t have to
Evernote & Google Docs: Sync your docs, notes, pictures (and virtually anything else) online.
Remember the Milk: A simple task manager with SMS/IM reminders to keep you on track
NOT UNDERSTANDING PRICING STRATEGY
Do you feel like nobody will buy your products unless your prices can compete directly with inexpensive mass production labels? Or are you on the opposite end of the spectrum, feeling as though your (currently) low sales volume means you need to mark up every product within an inch of its life to survive?
Either way, pricing strategy is critical to your business – not only to ensure you make a profit but also to entice customers into buying your products.
Some things to consider when pricing your products:
- What is your cost to produce?
- How much do your competitors charge?
- What is the lifecycle of your product?
- Have you factored in GST?
Want a more in-depth guide? Business Victoria runs through several price strategy options on their website.
Failing to consider pricing strategy can cause your overheads to strip all of the profit from your brand, or alternatively, leave you relying on having customers feel as though they can only afford to purchase your products on sale.
NOT SETTING (REALISTIC) GOALS
Setting goals that are too small (or too big) is an easy way to lose direction and let your business flounder. Just as important as goal-setting is to actually check up on your progress and re-centre yourself to make sure you’re always moving forward and hitting the milestones you wanted to.
Not sure how to go about this? We don’t blame you. The hardest thing about setting goals is doing so in such a way that makes sense to you personally and is measurable and achievable (with a little elbow grease, of course).
There are heaps of great goal-setting strategies here. We’re certain you’ll find one that suits you perfectly.
WAITING FOR PERFECT WHEN GOOD WILL DO
As a creative, it’s only natural to want to only the very best work to be attached to our names, but when you’re working the equivalent of 3 or 4 different jobs just to get your business off the ground, you may not always have everything completed to your exacting standards, all the time.
Standards are vital. But timing and momentum are just as important to your business. For example: getting a basic online store up in time for Christmas shopping is better than trying to make it absolutely perfect and missing that huge shopping period altogether.
When you’re holding back, ask yourself:
- Is the issue a matter of functionality/practicality?
- Will this issue stop people purchasing my products?
- Will anyone really notice this issue or is it just me?
As a side note: Many emerging creatives will feel the need to appear perfect at all times in order to compete with their more established (and heavily staffed) competitors. But you should never underestimate the value of being an emerging brand. People love feeling like they’ve discovered the next big thing before anybody else, and they’re usually prepared to help you navigate your way to success. Own your emerging status and don’t be afraid to ask a million questions – you’ll find you’ll get all the answers you need from experts who love to share their knowledge!
SKIMPING ON BUSINESS SET UP
Most emerging creative businesses are running with a budget of what feels like $37. With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that so many bury expenses like accountants and lawyers deep in the “when I’m already successful” pile.
We hate to be the bearers of costly news, but an uncomfortable investment now is really rather important, especially if you intend to involve others in your business in the capacity of employee/contractor/supplier. Speak to the experts in order to get all your compliance ducks in a row so you avoid unnecessary stresses down the road – like needing to pay more tax than you expected, or having no legal pathway to chase an unpaid invoice. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Want more tips about running a successful creative small business? Read our article on PR tips for emerging brands and pricing for emerging designers.
Images: Ola Rudnicka by Regan Cameron for Harpers Bazaar UK 2017 (banner); Alex Prager – Ladder