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Guest Blog: Chris Measures, Building your creative business – part 2
Building your creative business – part 2
Last month I talked about how to set up and start your creative business. So, once you’ve done that and the honeymoon period is over, how do you keep the momentum going? Like anything new the first few months of your own business are incredibly exciting, but when it becomes the norm how do you keep yourself motivated and interested?
Based on my three years running my own company here are five tips for keeping that ‘just launched’ feeling going:
1. Get out of the house
Most one person creative businesses are based at home. While this is logical and cost-effective too much of your own company can drive anyone mad, so you need to get out and meet other people. Network, travel to relevant events or even have offsite planning sessions to change your surroundings and talk to people face to face. If you know other one person businesses (and they’ve got the space) why not spend a day week sharing their office to give you someone to bounce ideas off?
2. Find like minded people
I mentioned the importance of mining your contacts for new business when you started up, but don’t neglect ex-colleagues who might be doing something similar to yourself. Keep in touch with them and see if you can collaborate on jobs. Not only will it enable you to pitch for bigger pieces of business, but it will help create a virtual agency of your own, where you can share resources, information and ideas. And at the very least it will give you people to ask for advice when the going gets tough.
3. Learn new skills
Such is the rate of change in the creative industries that you need to be continually expanding your knowledge. One of the advantages of working for a big company should be that they have training programmes that help you learn these new skills, but working for yourself doesn’t stop you educating yourself. Look around for courses that you can take that will extend your services. These could be run by industry bodies (such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing or Chartered Institute of Public Relations), local business associations or vendors trying to sell their services. Failing to learn new skills will hit you in two ways – you’ll get bored doing the same thing day after day and clients will pigeonhole you without room for you to grow your work with them.
4. Take a break
The temptation when you run your own business is to be available 365 days a year 24x7, but this is a recipe for an unhealthy work/life balance, stress, burn out and an upset partner/family. Be clear with clients when you are going to be off work and, if necessary, turn down jobs if they are going to clash. It is better to be up front with people rather than promising what you can’t deliver. If you’ve built up a network of like minded colleagues you can ask them to baby sit clients while you’re away, and return the favour when they’re on holiday. However you do it, you need to take breaks if you want to return revitalised, fresh and ready to take your business forward.
5. Think about the future
Most creative businesses are selling time, which is a finite resource – so what do you do when you reach the happy stage of being full? Once your business has settled down you need to plan for what you do next. Do you want to grow and employ people, simply work for yourself or bring in freelance support for bigger jobs? Your choices will impact how you operate and evolve the business going forward. Whatever your decision have a plan, with targets to help keep motivation high and prevent things drifting.
When you start your new business there’s an inevitable rush of excitement – building momentum beyond this can be tricky, but the key thing is to keep learning and meeting new people so that you develop and don’t get bored. Otherwise you may find that working for yourself becomes as unrewarding as the job you left to set up on your own………..
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