Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

The biggest challenges faced by creative entrepreneurs.

As a creative you are already in an industry which struggles to attract a pay-check much above the poverty line. I decided to do some research about exactly why it is that creative entrepreneurs face so many challenges in business. I was horrified to find that the advice out there is really limited and continues to drive creatives such as artists down the same old rabbit hole. There are so few people who can offer sound business advice that actually applies to artists. 

I saw things like ‘be prepared to compromise on your style’; ‘take any commission and diversify’ ‘be flexible with your pricing’. I was shocked, but I understood why this advice prevails, it is because society puts people in boxes and likes to keep them there. How dare you try to break the mould! You must do what people have always done!! Well, I am fed up with reading the same old crap and I want to smash down those beliefs and create new ones. Creative people have the capacity to be great entrepreneurs when they seek out and follow advice that unlocks their zone of genius and teaches them how to do business. 

There doesn’t have to be straight lines of accountants; doctors; teachers; artists who all fit the traditional job description and follow the same path. The very word entrepreneur gives you licence to create! You have the duty to write your own job description; future; earnings potential and not listen to ‘the man’ telling you what you should be and how you should do things. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the challenges faced by creative entrepreneurs today and help to steer you in the right direction.

Budgeting

This is often a difficult area for creatives, the inconsistency of income. Selling work and then having to produce more work and then sell that. It feels like a vicious cycle and causes unpredictability. Much of the advice I found directed the creative towards diversifying their work, moving away from their core brand and values in order to make more money and manage their budget.

NO!!! This is not the answer.

Creating passive income streams by using knowledge in addition to talent is a much more aligned course of action. Many creative entrepreneurs just don’t know that there are more opportunities to make money other than creating a piece and selling it at a gallery or privately. Your brand and your niche are everything and monetising them via multiple income streams that don’t all require the entrepreneur to be present is what will bring more predictable affluence. When you are exchanging time for money, and art takes time, then you are very limited. In order to shore up and expand your earning capacity the entrepreneur must create passive income streams which make money while you sleep.

Successful people usually have a minimum of seven income streams. When you have this type of business model, if one income stream dries up, at least you know that you have money coming in from other sources, making budgeting less stressful. Know what you need to live on and create passive income to meet that level and then your more sporadic income from your creativity can be seen as disposable or savings income and used to plan for the future.

Here is my 5 ways to make more money as an artist FREEBIE

Marketing

The number of creatives that I speak to that ‘hate marketing’ would surprise you. Yet without it you literally have no business. Some hit lucky and have volume followers and create a great income, but this really is the minority.

Marketing is essential and you need to build your brand around it. Being famous on Instagram and having hundreds of thousands of followers is pointless unless they are all buying from you regularly and creating your predictable income. Will they still be there in ten years’ time or will they have moved on to ‘the next big thing’? People are fickle and not necessarily loyal in those numbers. Enjoying your 15 minutes of fame without a plan and a strategy is narrow minded.

You will have heard about footballer’s or rock stars who blow all of their money when they make it and then find themselves broke at age 35. In business you need a consistent strategy around marketing which will grow with you and adapt around trends and client demands. It is smart to understand this in business and utilise all of the social media platforms to speak to different audiences and bring in a steady flow of new clients whilst still delighting the old ones.

Think about brands that have stood the test of time such as Coca-Cola. They change their marketing to meet the current demand and you need to do the same as an entrepreneur. Marketing is your magic wand in business, get it right and you will reap the rewards shy away from it and you will struggle.

Balancing

Finding the right balance between creating in your zone of genius and performing the necessary other tasks can be a huge challenge for creative entrepreneurs. There is a simple solution, however it is tied to income so it can feel insurmountable. I worked with a great mentor over 12 years ago who told me to outsource 80% of what I did. He said that we only spend 20% of our time in our zone of genius and the rest is tasks that can be outsourced.

Imagine though, flipping your thinking on that and identifying all of those tasks, calculating the cost of outsourcing them and investing in your business to do just that so that you can operate purely in your zone of genius. Imagine the money you could generate if you were operating that way! Balancing is purely a skill to be learned and a risk to be taken. But rather than seeing the price of outsourcing tasks as a cost, see it as a sound investment in your own brilliance. Think outside of the lines drawn by others and notice the difference on your bottom line.

Pricing

Many creative entrepreneurs struggle to charge what they are really worth, often feeling like people won’t pay the higher price or that they are not worth it. I have come across women who have halved the price of a piece of artwork because someone said it wasn’t worth it. Let me tell you this – THEY ARE NOT YOUR PEOPLE!

The right person for the piece will pay your price, you just need to hold your nerve. Have the confidence to price the items you create, be they original pieces or programs and courses, at a price that takes into account your time, your talent and your intellectual property. You are worth every penny. Set your hourly rate, calculate the cost of materials, framing, postage and packing, even your petrol costs & time to post the item!

Your own limiting beliefs

You are limitless and you can do anything. I do know however, that many creatives struggle with comparing themselves and feeling unworthy, particularly when they are starting out. Doing some work on yourself is the only way to get past this barrier. Look for someone who can help you with this, invest in your own mindset and it will raise your game everywhere. Limiting yourself and your business does not serve you or your potential clients, you owe it to yourself and others to be operating in your absolute potential.

If you resonated with any of these challenges and would love to talk about where you are right now and where you want to be, then please feel free to get in contact with me. I love to talk to creative people about their goals and dreams, it is one of my favourite things to do!

Love and Colour

Mandy x

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