In the midst of designing a new collection this
week month, I wanted to step back and jot down some thoughts on running a creative business. The compulsion came on as the struggle to design started to weigh me down. I’ll admit, it was an ambitious project, one that I had hoped to tackle in a week initially, then two. Now, I’ll be satisfied if it only takes me 1-2 months! In reality, that is definitely a more reasonable timeline, but I was discouraged as the days ticked by without a finished collection in my hand. Running a small creative business can be a lot of (rewarding) work, so I just wanted to encourage any of you out there working on your passion and share my tips for running your business like a boss babe.
Know what you are good at, and what you truly enjoy doing, and focus on developing those skills or products further. Also, know when it’s time to branch out and learn new skills, but focus on one new project at a time. I’ve mostly designed jewelry for the past 5 years. Focusing on one type of product allowed me to hone my aesthetic, marketing, business and production. Now, I feel that I’m at a point where I can add a new product without feeling overwhelmed trying to figure it all out still.
Planning can be tough as a small business. Because you most likely wear so many hats within your organization, if not all of them, your day-to-day is never the same. I like to have a general plan of what I’d like to accomplish each week (marketing, design, website maintenance, business necessities), but I know that when and how and how much of this happens each week will vary drastically. In addition to a weekly plan, I have an overall yearly plan that has a rough design calendar, marketing calendar, fiscal calendar and business calendar. I sat down one day to plug all of the information into my online calendar to repeat each week and year so that I always have a clear idea of what needs to get done.
This point really goes without saying, but the most important thing about running any business is cash flow. Make sure you have money coming in and are not spending more than your business is making. Make a profit! Sit down for 30 minutes each week with your books, catch up on receipts and gauge where you are for the month and what you need to do to get to where you want to be.
Work on a project with someone in a completely different discipline. Thinking outside of your usual project and medium can inspire you beyond that project.
It’s easy at the beginning of your business venture to find every opportunity exciting and each new problem to solve fun and invigorating. As the months and years go by, it’s important to find ways to maintain that passion. Find a way to meet other creatives in similar businesses to stay encouraged. Identify a business that you admire that is where you would like to be in 3-5 years and see if you can chat with them about what they’re doing to see how they find energy to keep going years into their business.
Work on a personal project or make something specifically for a friend or family member. Allow yourself to experiment with style, medium and technique. Doing something that isn’t for money or related to developing a product will give you the freedom to try new things out and could inform your next project.
If you’re feeling uninspired or burnt out on a project, take a break. One of the greatest benefits of working for yourself is having the freedom to work whenever you want to, but it’s one of the things that people utilize the least once they start their small business. If I’m feeling stuck, I switch to a personal project, go for a hike, or shower. Do whatever you find inspires or recharges you. I don’t usually get inspiration on a hike, but I definitely feel recharged after I’m out in nature, which is just as good for getting things done!
SHUT OUT DISTRACTION
With our super-, hyper- connected world, this is probably one of the hardest things to truly do. Multi-tasking is not the best way to run all of the aspects of your business. Focus on one task at a time throughout the day and have everything else hidden or turned off completely.
In a creative business, it feels like you have to have a constant stream of new ideas and designs for everything from marketing materials and website copy to product designs and locations for photoshoots. It can be draining and exhausting, so it is important to have a constant stream of inspiring things in your life. Here are my favorite ways to stay inspired:
New music – go to a concert or let Spotify find new music for you.
Personalized workspace – hang a mood board and change out the images weekly or monthly, plant a few succulents to keep on your desk, and keep it tidy between projects
Stay active – working out, walking, biking, hiking, swimming; all of the most intelligent and creative people throughout history made time each day for physical activity
Take breaks – step away from your computer, meet a friend for coffee, stare outside and do nothing
Work in a different medium – worth repeating because it really is a great way to see things from a different vantage point
Play – have a hobby that you DON’T try to turn into a business
Read and watch – I love watching old sci-fi movies from the 60s and 70s and find a lot of inspiration from the architecture and costumes in these movies
Travel – take pictures, sketch, and journal along the way
Now that I’ve taken this break, I’m ready to get back to the worktable! Here are few of my favorite inspirational finds below. What are some of your tips for staying passionate, inspired, and running your business like a boss babe?