A Warning To All Creatives Who Want To Run Their Own Business

No matter how talented you are, if you only focus on your 'art' your business will fail, writes Jess Mouneimne


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The typical creative is often described as a dreamer, someone who enjoys coming up with imaginative ideas and designs, and typically works in the art, design and fashion industries.

However, I believe creatives exist in any and all sectors - they are anyone who chooses to colour outside the lines, who uses their imagination, and infuses their business with creativity, which are all positive attributes. All these positives, however do come with some negatives. 

The Difference Between The Right And The Left Brain

There are key differences between, so-called, 'normal' and creative entrepreneurs.

Creatives often prefer to focus on their craft, not the numbers, structures or rules. Rather than focusing on the business side of their enterprise, they are often more inclined to sacrifice their financial security at the altar of their artistic integrity.

What many don't understand is that running a successful creative business requires 90% business savvy and 10% artistic ability — a fact often overlooked by those creatives whose businesses fail in the first few years.

No matter how talented you are, if you direct the lion share of your energy developing and utilising your creative skills at the expense of the financial foundations of your business, the failure of that business is almost guaranteed.

Look at the most successful creative businesses: behind each, there is business-savvy partner whose left-brained logic and critical thinking skills balance out the right-brained intuition and artistry of the creative partner. It can be done - many large and successful creative businesses are as corporately structured as any of the big banks — don’t let appearances fool you.

The good news is that securing a solid financial base for your business will deliver you more freedom - both time and capital - with which you can indulge your creative talents.

Here are 4 common challenges that all 'creative-preneurs' face in their attempt to live a life of successful creativity:

1. They Only Have 'Creative' Skills
What often comes between creatives and financial independence is what actually sets them apart from the business community at large. Because their natural gifts are often so highly specialised, creatives often don't learn skills beyond their areas of expertise.

This leaves them unable to focus on harnessing skills that can help them build a financially sustainable business, like financial management, sales, marketing and staff management. 

The right mindset and an understanding of financial basics is critical to creative success.

2. They Start A Business To Only Follow Their Dreams
For many people, starting a business is a means to an end - they want to make money. Others however, especially those in creative fields, sometimes view having a business idea and pursuing it as an end in itself.

If you fall in the former camp then it would be helpful if you would actually quantify how much money, time, blood and sweat your dreams (and the freedom to pursue them) are costing you.

If you don’t know how much, then you are essentially flying blind. 

3. They Don't Understand Money
Eighty percent of businesses fail due to cash flow problems, the irony is 75% of them are actually profitable businesses. Many  entrepreneurs don't understand that even profitable businesses may run into cash flow problems. 

Every business needs to bring cash into the company as quickly and efficiently as possible. This enables the enterprise to have enough cash on hand to meet its obligations like payroll, rent and other expenses - without it, the business dies. 

Fast growth quickly brings with it big cash flow issues because there are more demands placed on the company's budget. This is a factor that is often overlooked, so be sure to take rags-to-riches or funding success stories with a pinch of salt. 

4. They Ignore New (And Useful) Tech
Technology has made it easier to run all kinds of businesses. It is now easier than ever before to work remotely and to have instantaneous communication between you and your customers or collaborators.

To help with their marketing and branding efforts, creative entrepreneurs should also be making use of social media. The power of the crowd can help turn a good idea into a viral campaign, that in turn, can help turn a startup into multi-million dollar brand almost overnight.

However, the constantly flowing tide of new technologies can leave even the most tech-minded creatives feeling overwhelmed. It is important to spend some time and get some clarity around what is on offer and what will work for your business success.

About the Author: Jess Mouneimne is an accomplished entrepreneur and author. She has a thorough understanding of the media marketing landscape both locally and internationally. She founded the 360-degree communications agency, Jam Media in 2013. Together with her team she has worked with some of South Africa's largest companies locally and are branching into international territories as part of their 2017 strategy.   

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