This article ‘Five Steps to Success as a Creative Entrepreneur’ was first published in Spanish in the first edition Bogotá Naranja in August 2017, during the Festival Naranja, entitled: “5 Pasos Para Ser Un Emprendedor Creativo Exitoso”.
When I advise creative entrepreneurs on business growth, the first question I ask is this: “Do you want to be successful?” Of course, they all respond “Yes!” But when I ask them to define success in detail, all their answers are different. For some people, success is about social impact, for others it’s about international projects, or recognition and awards. Some want to build a big team, others want to be ‘solopreneurs’. Lifestyle is a big factor for many people. Making money is important, of course, but in working around the world as a creative industries business adviser, nobody has ever said to me that it’s only about the money. Everyone combines these and other elements in different measures; in the end, each person’s precise definition of success is different – and unique.
This is the first step. You must define precisely your own version of success. This will enable you to filter all your ideas (and everyone else’s advice to you) to select only those options that move you towards your particular goals. There is more about Success in my book ‘T-Shirts and Suits: A Guide to the Business of Creativity’.
Next, you have to take into account the realities of your situation. The most important thing to understand objectively is your position amongst competitors. How do you stand out from the crowd? What can you do that others cannot? What makes you different? These are vital questions that can only be answered by looking at your business in relation to others. Understanding your Competitive Advantage is vital if you want to survive and succeed in business.
I ask two questions about this when I’m helping creative businesses:
1. What are the three things you do best?
2. What are the three things you do best in relation to competitors?
The answers to these questions are very different and indicate business growth in very different directions.
This is the second step: be objective about realities, especially competitors. Know yourself in relation to competitors and identify the things you can do better than the many rivals in the marketplace.
We need to choose our customers. It’s neither strategic nor effective to try to sell to everyone. The most successful creative businesses focus only on customers who want the products or services at which they excel in relation to rivals. That means also choosing markets to deliberately avoid, to focus only on the right ones.
This is a strategic approach to marketing, as explained in the 63 tips, techniques and tales in my book ‘Chase One Rabbit: Strategic Marketing for Business Success’.
Step Four brings together the first three steps, combining them with your creative passion and talents, to create your own business formula. With your own formula for success, you channel your creativity only into the right products/services, focusing on selling only to the right customers.
Step Five is to be creative! This means using both “a-Creativity” and “i-Creativity”. It’s not enough to be creative only in your studio, making your products and services; you need also to apply creativity in your business methods: in marketing, raising finance, collaborations, intellectual property, etc. In this way, you can truly design your creative business.
There are lots of examples of creative entrepreneurs around the world who have used cool business methods to achieve success on their own terms. We can take inspiration from them and each of us succeed in our own unique way.
By following these five steps, you will be using your creativity to the full, to achieve your own special version of success as a creative entrepreneur.
This article was first published in Spanish in the first edition Bogotá Naranja in August 2017, during the Festival Naranja, at which David Parrish was a keynote speaker.