Have a Question for Me?

Have a question about running an indie creative business that’s been bugging you?

Well, here’s your chance to ask a business consultant – me!

questions answered by travelinlibrarian via flickr

Just post your question to the comments below following these rules:

1. Have a question (for the record, no question is “silly” — I love any and all questions!!)

2. Be sure your question is relevant to the indie creative business community

3. Include your business name and website in your comment (fill out the form below)

4. If your question is chosen you agree to have your business name and website referenced in the blog post answer

5. You understand that I reserve the right to edit the question for clarity (I promise to be super nice)

This offer is good through the end of January – answers will be written in the form of ongoing blog posts to be written and posted throughout February.

PLEASE Note: Posting your question here does not guarantee an answer, but just like life:

Asking a question directly gives you a better chance at getting an answer ๐Ÿ˜‰

Agreed? Okay!

What’s on your mind?

Do You Want to Do What Youโ€™re Doing?

Are you sure?

Sometimes we creative types get on a roll. We follow our bliss, making and creating things that fill our souls with joy. Then one day, our entrepreneurial mind steps in and says, “Hey, I have an idea! You should totally start selling those things!”

caution:excitement by a.pham via flickr

One thing leads to another an then all of a sudden you’re picking out a URL, designing a collection, putting together a color scheme complete with logo and perhaps even packaging. The promise of possibility is enough to entice anyone who has dreams of quitting their day job to put reason aside and rush headlong into a new business venture.

We’ve all done it to one extent or another, haven’t we?

Now before you start throwing your savings at this new adventure, you really should ask yourself:

  • Do I know who my market is? (hint: the answer is not “everyone”)
  • Have they been asking for the thing I’m making? (Is there a market for your work?)
  • Do I know what my pricing structure will be? (Are you willing to think about it?)
  • Have I researched my future competitors? (Is your offering unique?)
  • Do I know how to market this new line? (Do you have time to devote to this new business?)

If your answer was “no” to any of the above, that’s really okay. These are all things that you can figure out, learn and implement as you grow your business. Discovering the answers to those questions are what make creating a business interesting.

The REAL question you need to ask yourself (and answer honestly!) is this:

Is this something I can imagine myself doing for the next 5 to 10 years of my life?

Well? Can you?

Question of the Week: Do I Need a Business Plan?

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You’ve read so many books about building your small business (you have, haven’t you?) and if you’re like a lot of creative business owners, when you got the part about “Writing a Business Plan” your eyes glazed over and your mind filled with overwhelming thoughts of dread…then you skipped to the part where they talk about marketing instead.

Question of the week:

Do I NEED a Business Plan?

question mark by marco bellucci via flickr

The short answer is: No. You don’t *need* a business plan to run a business.

The not-so-short answer is: No, you don’t *need* a business plan to run a business…but you’ll probably WANT to have one if you want to make sure you stay on track and find your way to success with your business!

Unless you are seeking formal financing from a lender or private party, you really don’t have to create an formal business plan. Instead, think of it as a list of goals that will help give you some direction and allow you to make good decisions about everything from marketing plans to new product ideas.

It needn’t be a stuffy list of points and comparisons, either. As long as it covers the following points, the goals you set will serve you well as you travel along your road to success:

  1. What do you do / make? (How do you make it?)
  2. Who are your customers and why do they buy from you?
  3. What are your short term and long term goals for your business?
  4. Who are your peers and how is your business different from theirs?
  5. Who helps you with your business?
  6. What do you make and why is it great?
  7. How much do you make now (gross and profit)?
  8. How much do you want to make in the near / far future?
  9. What is your plan for getting to that goal?
  10. Create a list of milestones – monthly, quarterly and/or annually – these will help keep you going as you reach each one.

Please remember this: Just because you write all of these descriptions, goals and plans down doesn’t mean that you can’t change things as your situation changes. On the contrary – one of the great things about working for yourself as a creative professional is that you can shift and change as much as you need to!

My advice: Don’t fret too much about all of this planning stuff. It’s really just an exercise that helps you write down all of those thoughts in your head about your business that keep you awake at night and keeps them all in one place so you don’t lose all of your good ideas!

Do you have a business plan / goal setting plan? What do you like about having one? Please share your story with us in the comments!

Quick Tip: A Few Words on Creative Networking

Networking doesn’t have to be a scary proposition.

When you come right down to it, it’s really just a one-word way of saying,
“Get out of your studio and meet people of like minds.”

etsyRAIN networkingetsyRAIN Networking event – Seattle, WA

Top 10 ways to make a networking meeting work for you:

  1. Show up
  2. Participate
  3. Ask Questions
  4. Be a good listener
  5. Bring Business Cards
  6. Make connections
  7. Take Business Cards
  8. Make introductions
  9. Practice Your Elevator Pitch
  10. Above All Have a Good Time!

Etsy Shop Makeover Challenge: Week 1

Have you read the Etsy Shop Makeover Challenge: Week 1 posts yet?

SLR camera diagram print by girlscantell via Etsy

Just in case you missed it, here are the direct links to Week 1 Challenges:

Shop Makeover: Creating a Brand Identity for Your Shop

Excellent advice and explanation about branding and why it’s important for your shop’s success!

Seller How-To: Banner Tips

Great advice on improving your banner for your shop

Etsy Shop Makeover Challenge: Week 1

I wrote this one ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s all about improving the look of your shop by taking better photos!

Tell us: What are you doing to improve your Etsy shop this year?

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