Saturday, 4 February 2017

It's Business Time

Hey everyone! Here we are in February, the awkward second album of 2017. Whilst starting the year fairly tentatively, not straying too far from the recovery position following last year's intensity, I've been working fairly steadily on what has become my natural focus for this year; to get better at business. What this means to me is:
  • playing a more active role in shaping where my creativity takes me
  • using the making of products as a way to explore my ideas, tell stories and spread joy
  • getting smarter about the data and digits that make up my creative business (whether I like it or not)
Figuring that getting to grips with the business side of your creativity may be a goal for some of you this year too, I thought I'd share the things I'm finding useful to start that journey. Whilst some of them are things you can pay for, for each example there are also resources available completely free, so make sure you have a rummage around in the links without feeling you need to invest in a new bookshelf lined with literature. With that in mind, here are 5 things I'm using right now to increase my knowledge, motivation and progress in the world of business:

The Creative Entrepreneur

One of the first tools that made me think running my creative practice more like a business might not be completely terrible was a book called The Creative Entrepreneur by Isa Maria Seminega. It's nicely designed, much to the relief of artisan eyes, and has a genuinely meaningful approach to navigating how to combine creativity and business. With exercises to help you identify your core values, write a mission statement and learn to be yourself through your brand, this vision it paints for prospective entrepreneurs is a hopeful one; as something unique to every person, dispelling my warped perceptions of entrepreneurs as self-assured at best and a motley crew of Apprentice contestants at worst and into something that has helped me lay some of the groundwork in imagining my place within the world of entrepreneurship; or, making a very intentional business out of doing what I love. That free stuff goodness I mentioned comes from Isa in the form of access to an online community and her blog.

The Design Trust (Dream Plan Do)
I used to watch webinars by Patricia van den Akker of The Design Trust on my bus journeys home from work when I first graduated, back when IdeasTap was still alive. Then, scribbling down lots of notes to capture her straight talking approach, she piqued my interest by raising the difficult questions around pricing, salaries and the like, that many creatives, including myself, will do anything to wriggle out of. Now this is a trait that continues in The Design Trust's monthly Dream Plan Do workbook. I invested in a copy of the planner via their Kickstarter and, whilst not the easiest stuff to work through, now - as then - I figure that if I can answer that stuff, things will become clearer. Having battled through some big asks and concepts, the planner has pushed me to set 3 juicy goals for the year, and also offers an online Dream Plan Do community page to share updates, victories and challenges. The Design Trust website also boasts a Free Resources section with lots of content to digest. Yahtzee!

Having travelled to Sheffield's Weekend of the Maker festival last year, I've started a bit of an unexpected love affair with Folksy. They are the most popular UK site for independently crafted and designed gifts and their blog is packed with useful content; from inspiring maker stories to remind you that it's possible when you're feeling down, to open advice for sellers including SEO tips, product photography tips, craft fair advice and lots more.

Gather Examples
Another thing that has been essential for reshaping my thinking has been collecting examples of businesses that, in my opinion, do something good. In a world that can often feel corrupt, corporate or consumption heavy, for me it's essential to go deeper on what businesses can look like, and what they can achieve beyond making coin. I keep a copy of The Monacle Guide to Good Business next to my invoice file for just such inspiration doses, but creating your own Pinterest board would do the job. Here is a video from Monacle about their collection to start you off.

Crafting a Community

The main reason I have not left these good intentions back in January is because I've connected with others who share my goals; who can keep me accountable, be there to talk things through, and understand my challenges as well as my tiny steps in the right direction. I'm lucky enough to have a Business Buddy in SKbydesign, and together we have begun to host an open Creative Entrepreneurs Club meet up to connect with other creatives on a similar mission. However you find your people, twitter hours are also a great first step to connect with different creative communities. Some of my favourites include #blogtacular, #folksyhour and the recently launched #justgotmade.

This is just a starting point, and I look forward to sharing some of the trials and tribulations as I go. If you're already bossing it at business, feel free to share what works for you in the comments section below!

NB: I hope it's plain to see, but I just want to make it clear that none of these projects / books / tools were sent to me to promote, and I have no affiliation to them, merely recommending them from a user perspective. Brap.

To check out more posts like this explore my #WORK and #professional content tags.


  1. Thanks for directing me to your post via the DPD Facebook page. I've been feeling a bit gloomy about the whole 'creating a business' thing for the past couple of weeks. You've refired my resolve - back to the Planner...

    1. Allison, thank you so much for your comment! I think it's easy to get the January blues around new things we're trying to achieve, and I've absolutely been dragging my heels with the February chapter of the planner as it's all about finances *dramatic music*

      But, it's just about finding those little reasons to pick it back up again, and your kind message has done that for me by reminding me I'm not alone!

      Also, I've just been over to the blog about your craft and it is wonderful! Keep up the good work and look forward to seeing how things develop for you.