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Chris Bell

Building a Successful Creative Business



Running a successful start-up is hard enough, but when it involves creating and executing a creative vision, things can suddenly seem a whole lot more difficult. However, achieving commercial success does not have to mean compromising on your artistic vision. While there is no clear map to creating a successful business, there are many things that can be done to help your business blossom both creatively and financially.

Define your Purpose

Underlying all other aspects of your business should be a clearly defined identity. Answering the questions below is a great way to conceptualise your company.

  1. What is your brand, and what will it offer?

Think about the product you offer, its aesthetics and production methods as a starting point, then use this to inform a broader understanding of the business. This will help to create a cohesive brand identity.

  1. How are you different from the competition?

Understanding your niche inside and out can be a real key to success and help your business gain visibility.

  1. Are you creating something beautiful, useful, or solving a need?

The answer might not fit into one of these categories, or your product might fulfil more than one.

  1. Who is your customer?

Your product and brand identity need to have a clear target market. This will also inform everything from marketing to product development.

Beginning by answering these questions will not only help you to make more informed choices in the future, but it will help you to understand why your concept is worth pursuing fully.

Create a Business Plan

Once you have a clear understanding as to ‘why’ the business idea is a good one and really ‘what’ it is you intend to do, the next step to focus on is ‘how’ you are going to achieve these goals. A business plan should be a clear outline as to how the business will run, how it will be funded and how it will grow. Some examples of topics that need to be covered in a business plan are:

  • What is it that you are proposing and how do you know that people will be willing to pay for it?
  • Who are your customers? Where will you find them? What is their market profile?
  • Who is your competition? What makes your business different?
  • What makes you unique in your industry? What are the current and predicted trends?
  • Through which channels will you sell your products (i.e. storefront or online)?
  • What is your financial relationship with your customers going to be, will you have a subscription model, sell directly, or sell via a shop?
  • Pricing, how much will you sell your service or product, what is your customer likely to pay for it?

A business plan is one of the best methods of structuring a business idea in a way that will yield financial benefits. It should cover everything from your customers and market segments, your assets and resources, and the overheads necessary to generate income. While starting with a business plan is essential, it is also a good practice to revisit the plan as the business grows, to check in with aims and predictions and to reiterate and improve upon it.

Organise the Practicalities

The last major step that is necessary for running a successful creative business is to organise the realities of how you are going to set your plan into motion. For example, if you are starting a carpentry business in Bristol, you will need to find the right working space, this might be a creative warehouse that is affordable like Meanwhile Creative’s office space in Bristol; you will then need to find tools and a supplier for your raw materials. 

Another part of organising the practicalities of your creative business might involve setting up an online profile for the brand. This could include social media accounts, a website, or a profile on an innovative selling platform like Etsy. While marketing a product and brand online is one of the best ways to ensure it reaches the broadest possible audience, this does not need to come at the cost of fostering a local presence. Making contact with local stores – offering them samples of your product or suggesting they begin by stocking a small batch can be useful too. Presence in local shops can be especially valuable to businesses who use local materials. 

Allow your Creativity to Flourish

Once you have clearly defined the ‘why’ of your business and set up a strong business model which outlines how this vision is going to be achieved, as well as secured a position through which work can begin, it is now time to get creative. While running a successful creative business does involve both an artistic practice and a strategic and financial mindset, neither should come at the cost of the other. Trust in your instincts and business plan and set to work creatively.