Thinking about starting your own creative business can be overwhelming. There are seemingly endless things to consider and many problems to overcome – and at the end of it all, there is no guarantee of success.
However, you already know there is plenty of work out there in the creative industries, like writing, graphic design, advertising and communications, so you’ve just got to make sure you give your fledgling business the start it needs to grow.
Here are some of the basics you must consider as part of your research. Read up as much as you can and speak to others who have been there and done it. Many entrepreneurs, like the brains behind The New Blue Collar brand, are happy to pass on advice and encouragement.
Market Research and Competitor Analysis
By fully researching your business idea, you can get a sense of what demand there will be, the market size, and how many others are already operating in your space.
Then, once you know who those competitors are, study what they do, and at what price.
With all this information in place, you can begin to work out what your competitive advantages will be. Perhaps it’s a way of working, introductory pricing or a unique twist on a service.
Creating Your Business Plan
Armed with your research, you must create the most important document your business will ever produce – the business plan. Use it to formulate what services you’ll offer, who your clients will be and how you’ll find them, your pricing structure and your growth strategy.
You will need to be brutally honest with yourself and come up with some accurate numbers.
Once you are up and running, you should constantly refer to your business plan to check if you are on track. The plan should be a “live” document that you should update as time moves on and as new opportunities and results emerge.
Remember, the more detailed your plan, the more precisely you can measure your progress.
If you need help piecing a plan together, you can source some easy online versions, or seek business plan advice from the Small Business Administration.
Putting Your Funding in Place
It’s likely that fo,r most creative start-ups, initial expenses like computer equipment will be low. Many people start only with a laptop and a cell phone.
But that’s only part of the financial planning. You need to pay yourself a salary to cover your bills and taxes, and your working capital is how much money you need in place to do this while you build up some clients.
It is essential you don’t cut corners with your estimates – be accurate and fair, especially if you are seeking funding help from a bank or some other financial institution. They want to see a detailed business plan and full costings – and only by seeing this will they be confident you know what you’re talking about.
Where Will You Work?
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One of the biggest fixed costs for any business is its premises. For most people starting up on their own, they will be working from home, at least to begin with.
But if you plan to launch with a small team, or working from home simply does not suit you, then you will need to invest in office premises. This can be prohibitively expensive.
In Chicago, for example, office space costs more than $50 a square foot each month.
One recommendation is to look into shared office space, which is cheaper and has many advantages, including collaboration, meeting potential new clients, fully-managed office services, seminars and more. This piece explains why the use of coworking office space is on the rise.
Even if you do not start with any other staff members, hopefully you will grow successfully and soon be looking to hire.
Building a team will be a critical phase of your start-up since your business can only be as good as its employees. Plan for the roles you expect to need, creating a full job description that will help you or an agency find the perfect candidate.
Keep on Top of Your Figures
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Any business needs to be on top of its numbers. Knowing how much cash you have, debtors and creditors, plus essential stats like your break-even point means you’ll never get a nasty surprise.
Today, online accounting software like Xero or Sage makes it easy to have all your financial information at your fingertips, all linked to your business bank accounts.