Last week I talked about the nature of inspiration and how we can avoid becoming creatively stagnant.
To use a well-worn maritime metaphor, as creatives and often solopreneurs we’re the masters of our own ships: we are at the helm. One of the things I pointed to in that piece was that inspiration is all very well, but in order for it to have any real meaning, we need to follow it up with action.
This applies to business as much as it does our creativity, and it’d be remiss of me to pontificate to you about initiative without actually practising what I preach!
Over this last week I’ve spent some time relaunching my business website. The revamp was necessary: I’d decided to shift hosting from Google sites to WordPress, so I made the move, chose a visually appealing design, sourced images and rewrote copy, tailoring it to my intended audience.
I also ordered new business cards showcasing some of my photography. Plain white cards – you know, the corporate type, usually with a bit of process colour – are all very well, but it is possible to come up with something a bit more interesting.
Inject personality into your presentation
The great thing about being a creative is that you can inject personality into your presentation. If you google ‘boring business cards’ you’ll see incredibly dull examples, but you’ll also see others which demonstrate exactly the opposite: quirky ingenuity and style.
Business cards are a great marketing tool and should do three things: be classy, be memorable, and show people immediately what you’re about.
Currently I have two business books on the go. The first is Make Your Mark: The Creative’s Guide to Building a Business with Impact, another great publication from the 99U stable. (Their first was Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind – which I’d also recommend.)
It’s a splendid collection of essays by seasoned creative entrepreneurs on how to do the work you love and, importantly, how to make it financially viable.
The second is Louise Harnby’s Marketing Your Editing & Proofreading Business, which is just as suitable for professional editors like me who are further down the line as it is for fledgling start-ups.
Louise is both commercially focused and committed to quality, and a respected author in her field. And in this she has produced a brilliant book. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in the business of editing, even if they’re worked in-house prior to going freelance.
Refreshing your offer energises you
After having finished designing my website, I realised something really obvious, but so true. Refreshing your offer – and breaking new ground – energises you. It reignites the reason why you went into business for yourself in the first place.
It also gives you a sense of achievement. You realise where you are in the process of being an entrepreneur, and how far you’ve come. Sometimes this has to involve learning new skills and stepping outside your comfort zone, which can only be a good thing.
When you’re a creative solopreneur, the business of actually running a business can take up a lot of your time. And if you’ve emerged from a corporate background in which all the practical niceties such as IT, marketing, accounting and so forth are at the end of the phone, the shift to having to do everything yourself can be a steep curve at first.
If you want to get anywhere, you have to learn fast: self-reliance and stamina are essential. However, the benefit is that it makes you into an all-rounder. You become a book-keeper, marketer, business developer, strategist, service or product provider and self-leader.
If and when you have the wherewithal to outsource the more practical parts of your business, such as IT or accounting, it’s by far the best option. It frees you up to work on your business and do the jobs that you enjoy, rather than having to deal with those you like a little less.
One of the first things I did when I started up was to get an accountant – it’s a decision I’ve never regretted. It frees me up to work on things like vision and strategy, and refreshing my offer. Meanwhile, my trusty accountant breaks out his calculator and gets to do the job he enjoys.
So, what’s next? Forward motion. New products, ideas and people. Keeping it fresh.
Here’s to revival and business anew!