As a creative person, it’s likely that you have plenty of ideas for starting a business — but you may have no clue where to begin. Many people feel like this. Unfortunately, they often never get further than this initial idea stage.
All you need is a little push. This step-by-step guide will enable you to develop a creative business plan — the steps are relevant whatever your idea. Just remember that there is never a right time to start your business. In fact, if you keep waiting until you feel completely ready, you may end up waiting forever. Stop depriving the world of your great ideas and start taking the first steps to become a creative business entrepreneur today.
Step 1: Figure Out Your Objectives
Before you can start a creative business, you need to decide what you want to achieve. The best way to approach this is to define your objectives. Then, you’ll be able to come up with creative business strategies to tackle each.
The Niche You’ll Target
To stand out in the market, you need to be as unique as possible. Find a niche that isn’t already saturated but also has a wide enough audience that you’ll be able to make enough sales to support your business.
What Exactly You’ll Be Doing
Once you have a niche in mind, decide what products or services you’ll be offering. Think about how you’ll target your customers: will you sell to them directly, go through a retailer, or use an established platform to market your services? Also decide if you’ll be providing standard products or services to everyone or if you want to personalize your offerings, such as one-on-one consultations or custom-designed products.
Your Customers and Competition
Think about who makes up your target audience. Be as specific as possible, creating buyer personas that represent each type of customer you want to attract.
With your audience in mind, start researching your competition. This will be any businesses offering the same kinds as products or services and targeting the same customers. Make a note of what they’re offering, including similarities and differences with your own creative business idea. Also look for weaknesses (these could be opportunities for you) and what kind of marketing resonates with customers (the same could work for you).
Decide How You’ll Operate
It’s possible to run a creative business online without having any physical presence. Depending on what you’re offering, you may prefer this option — particularly at the beginning, as it will mean you save money. If you do need to meet with clients, consider using video chat. This will eliminate geographical restrictions and allow you to launch your business sooner.
How Much You’ll Make
Finally, you should have a rough idea of how much money you’ll be able to make with your creative business. Consider how much you’ll likely be able to sell and in what timeframe. If you’re making physical products, you’ll also need to figure out how much you can reasonably produce. Lastly, calculate how much it will cost to run your business and whether you can expect to scale over the long term.
You may need support at this stage from someone who has a head for numbers!
Step 2: Organize Your Day
Being creative doesn’t mean working without a schedule and going where your mood takes you. In fact, it’s extra important to organize your day when you’re building a creative business from home — otherwise, you may end up neglecting something crucial.
To start, make a list of all the activities you need to complete related to creative business management. It’s worthwhile using project management software like Asana to organize your projects. You’ll find this is useful even if your team is made up of just you and a couple of people you outsource to help you.
Step 3: Build Your Brand
Now it’s time to move on to a more exciting step: creative business branding. There are various aspects to branding, and it’s important to give adequate attention to each to ensure you develop the image you want for your brand.
Before you can do anything toward branding, your business needs a name. You may be inspired and come up with a name almost immediately — especially if there’s an obvious choice. However, this isn’t the norm: most people spend hours agonizing over the perfect choice.
The best name for your creative business will make it clear what you offer (or, at the very least, what your company is about). You may need to brainstorm ideas and ask others for feedback before arriving at your final choice.
Armed with a name, you can start working on your logo. If you have a background in design, you can create the logo yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a graphic designer. The good thing about hiring a graphic designer now is that you’ll be able to use the same person for your future needs, such as images for social media posts.
Every creative business needs a website: it helps you look authentic, expands your opportunities for marketing, and gives you the chance to set up an e-commerce store. Every part of your website — from layout, color palette, and fonts to the tone of voice you use — will contribute to your brand image.
Once you’ve set up a website, it’s hardly any extra effort to add a creative business blog. Your blog is the ideal place to showcase your offerings and publish content related to your niche.
Step 4: Create Hype with Social Media
Social media is a must for any creative business. It’s an excellent place to reach new customers and build awareness. Through social media, you’re able to show off your creativity, present your brand as the best choice, and explain why users need your solutions.
Before jumping in, you’ll need to decide what platforms you’ll use. This means thinking about what is popular with your target audience. Where do they spend their time? Where do they turn when looking for inspiration or to purchase services like those you offer?
You should also consider what platform lends itself to the type of content you want to promote your brand. As a creative business, visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are likely to be top choices. However, if you’re offering business solutions, LinkedIn could be a good option, too.
After you’ve chosen your platforms, it’s time to start creating hype. There are a few tactics you may like to try:
- Release teasers. You can set up social media accounts before you’ve even launched your business. Short videos are ideal for teasers about what you’ll be offering.
- Create your own hashtag. Another option is to use a branded hashtag to announce that your creative business is coming on the scene or to highlight one of your most exciting offerings. To gain the maximum visibility, choose something that other users will be able to add to their own posts.
- Tell your brand’s story.People love to hear about the story behind the brand, especially when you have a small business. Use social media posts to explain where you found your inspiration or why you decided the world needed a creative business like yours and follow up with posts about your journey.
- Show behind the scenes. Help followers feel like part of an exclusive community by sharing pictures of your working process.
Step 5: Implement a Marketing Strategy
Beyond social media, there are several ways to market your creative business.
Visitors to your website may like what they see in the moment, but after being so bombarded with other messages throughout the day, they may forget about your brand entirely. Live chat allows users to ask questions about your offerings and receive an answer immediately. In some cases, this could be all a user needs to convert.
If you’re unable to stay connected to a live chat all the time, consider outsourcing. You can find someone to manage your live chat as well as emails, phone calls, and other admin tasks.
Content Marketing Never Fails
We’ve already talked about the usefulness of having a blog. To make the most of it, you’ll need to implement a blog strategy. In addition, there are other ways you can use content marketing to generate and nurture leads. This includes guest blogging, email newsletters, and premium content.
Engage Your Audience Through Quizzes and Contests
Involve users in your marketing by posting fun quizzes or contests with the chance to win prizes. The best options for prizes are your own products or services. If it would be too expensive to give away an entire product for free, offer the chance to win big discounts — like this, you can have multiple winners.
Street Marketing and Guerrilla Marketing
Street marketing and guerrilla marketing are both ideal for a creative business because they’re about presenting your company as unique.
As the name suggests, street marketing takes place in public places. It’s all about making sure people remember you. It often involves setting up a sculpture, putting on a short performance, or placing signs all around the area. The best part is street marketing is inexpensive and impactful.
Guerrilla marketing is like street marketing with the difference that it can take place anywhere — indoors, outdoors, at an event, or even online.
Let users know what you do and why they should choose your brand through videos. Explainer videos allow you to be as creative as you like, and users find them engaging. Plus, they’re easy to make without the need for a team of videographers, thanks to explainer video software.
One last marketing tactic to try is creative business events. These give prospects the chance to meet you, interact with your products, or see how your service works. There’s no need to hold physical events — in fact, a virtual event will enable more people to attend, which is especially important if your creative business will be operating in more than just your local area.
Step 6: Hire a Virtual Assistant
As we said up top, creative people are often great at certain aspects of running a creative business (such as coming up with ideas for products or services, developing fun marketing campaigns, and connecting with their audience). However, they’re often less good at other aspects. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, there are many components involved in running a successful creative business.
Hiring a virtual assistant will allow you to get more creative — which also means you’ll get more done. When you offload your time-consuming tasks to a virtual assistant, you can manage your time better and therefore increase overall productivity. Plus, with the right professional, you’ll even scale your business faster.
Virtual assistants carry out a wide range of tasks, meaning you can delegate whatever work you dislike the most. For instance, many creatives prefer to work with people and avoid numbers. With a bookkeeping virtual assistant, you’ll never need to worry about the financial side of your business. Your VA will handle all your financial statements, bills, payroll, sales tax, and any other routine task related to your creative business expenses.
Bonus Step: Design Your Business Cards
Let everyone you meet know about your new startup with business cards. These should be as unique and impressive as your company. To help you out, we’re offering all our readers 5 ideas for creative business cards. Provide us with your email address and you’ll gain access to all of them. They’re sure to get you noticed!