Tuesday , 25 June 2019
We will always look back on parts of our lives and say, “I wish I knew then what I know now…” so here are 10 insights that I wish I knew during my first creative business.

10 Things I Wish I Knew While Running My First Creative Biz

TLR camera, screen printed glasses, set of 2 pint glasses

TLR camera, screen printed glasses, set of 2 pint glasses by: Vital


We will always look back on parts of our lives and say, “I wish I knew then what I know now…” so here are 10 insights that I wish I knew during my first creative business. I, like so many, mimicked what I saw, took a few pictures, wrote some sales copy, and then sat back and hoped for success. Silly me, but how else was I supposed to know?!

10 things I wish I knew…

Thing no. 1: Hobbyists don’t make good livings

If this is the job you want to be in full time switch your head to business owner. Hobbyists don’t sit on the sidelines and profit big numbers. Because when business decisions and customer service knock on a hobbyist’s door they tend to not answer or take it too personally.

 Thing no. 2: You have to wear a business hat

Wear a business hat! Know where you excel and ask for help where you do not. But be willing to be a business and get a handle on the following: money, marketing and promotion, time management, organization, team management, goal setting, product development, networking, balance, and brand culture.

 Thing no. 3: Going full time is not about selling more

If you sold just 5 more items per day you won’t magical land in full time status. Selling product is one carrier of your brand, there are more! Build your big picture–what do you want your creative business to bring to your life? What does your big picture cost and how much do you need to gross to make that happen? (Don’t know what gross means? Put on your business hat and learn!)

 Thing no. 4: Success is a state of mind

Know like you know like you know that you are a successful creative business and then do something every single day to prove to yourself your success. What single thing will have the biggest impact on your business and on your big picture today? Do that thing first thing in the morning. Forget your email, forget your shipments–put your progressive business first.

 Thing no. 5: You must continue to learn

Be determined to be the absolute best at what you do. Forget about being “unique”, or “different” and focus in on being a valuable expert. What piece of your business do you want to totally rock at? Now go rock at it! Don’t just declare, “I am the best…” Actions are much louder than words.

 Thing no. 6: Don’t assume sales equal profit

Sure you had 10 sales today and you are feeling on fire! But (sorry) if your average sale is $32 and so today you grossed $320 but your daily overhead costs are $300 you just made $20. Know your numbers and know when you are actually profiting each month!

 Thing no. 7: There is no value in free

Stop trading your quality and value away, please. For example, lets say you are in year 5 of your creative business and to date you have set up shop at 30 craft or art fairs. If at each craft fair you casually traded with 3 other artists–that is 90 pieces of product or service gone. If your average price point is $32 you just gave away $2,800. I don’t know about you but I would rather have the $2,800.

 Thing no. 8: Systems will save your life

Write you entire process down, step by step. Create systems behind the scenes before you ever try and sell your process. Build a system for promotion, budgeting, taxes, product development, packaging, etc. Write out your brand culture and core values. Remember, you are wearing a business hat now.

 Thing no. 9: Brand is not about how it looks

Think of your creative brand as a storybook and your business name, tagline, and overall look is just the cover. What will your customer’s find inside? What is your brand’s story and brand culture? You get to write it!

 Thing no. 10: Appeal to less and you’ll learn more

Know your value, only offer the highest quality, and appeal to a small niche. You will never run out of customers, I promise you this. But when you get narrow with your market you tell your ideal customer you are specifically for them. How narrow can you get?

 Bonus thing: Never assume it’s your customer’s fault

This is a huge part of wearing your business hat and building those handy systems–it’s never your customer’s fault. It’s not your customer’s fault for slow traffic, it’s not your customer’s fault for poor product, and it’s not your customer’s fault for shopping elsewhere. Take total responsibility for how awesome your business is because it will speak volumes! This includes your failures and your successes.



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  1. Wonderful tips – thank you :-)

  2. This is daunting. Thanks for your frankness. -V.

  3. Great and thoughtful post! Thank you!

  4. Great tips. Very motivating. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Spot on tips! A great insight and thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  6. Love it! Thanks for all the tips!

  7. A lot to think about! Thank you!

  8. A very good post thank you!

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you…for validating the thoughts I’ve had on the matter all along, as my career background has been in business and marketing. However, Thing No. 4 (state-of-mind) really struck a chord!! Thank you, again and again!

  10. Very open, honest and frank. Not just another sugar-coated pep talk. Nice! Thank you!

  11. Great post! Thank you for the valuable reminders! :)

  12. This is the best advice I’ve seen in a long time!

  13. WOW, I am so floored with the response to this post. THANK YOU for liking it and for reading it. I don’t like to sugar coat things, what’s the point? :)

    Keep your heads up, you are not alone!


  14. Very useful tips written here. Thank you so much!!

  15. Perfect advice – wish I had been told all this a couple of years ago!

  16. Keeping it real. Thank you for sharing this!

  17. Your advice to narrow your market to a niche is spot on and really validates my thinking. Most tiny businesses will never appeal to everyone and it is futile to try. The beauty of doing business online is that you can reach the thousands and thousands of people in the world who are interested in what you do well.

  18. Very good. I do learn so much from reading a well written article.
    Thank you
    Anita Spero
    The design lady

  19. A great read and very down to earth, thanks for sharing

  20. A very uplifting post for today. Thanks so much for lifting my spirits. I have a shop on ArtFire since February of this year. Only one sale so far, but, jewelry is over saturated and I have to take that in mind. Still plugging away, trying to improve photos, descriptins, etc. It is a daily challenge. I just know I will succeed someday. Have to stay possitive.

    Rosemary, Garden Gate Designs

  21. I especially #4 about doing something every day to propel your business forward and #8 about systemizing everything. I do have systems for most things but I definitely have some holes there. – need to think about that.

    Thanks for sharing!

  22. I definitely have to start propelling forward. Just read an article on recession proofing yourself & after the last one, I don’t want to get caught with another lay off. Time to make it work myself. Thanks for the motivation!

  23. Great tips Tim, running an online business is a lot of work. The effort you put in is equivalent to what you get out of it.

  24. Thank you for giving me my aha moment! Today is going to be a good day, even if I don’t sell anything… I have a place to start. Cheers…

  25. Great post. I’m going to print this out and try to accomplish something that touches upon at least one point a day. I need to put on my business hat and realldy investigate my “systems”.

  26. Very good tips! Will read once more to remember

  27. I’ve been running a custom cake business for 15 years, and I also sell on Etsy. Every single one of these tips is so 100% correct I can’t even tell you. I see people on cake forums complaining about this or that and they don’t realize that they’re looking at it like a hobby, not a business. I’m going to repost this on my own blog because it sums it all up!

  28. Thank you for your bluntness and specific points. I took a lot away from the business hat and systems bits. It’s true; if you expect to build a business, you have to think of it and treat it as such. But your bonus advice was the best. Whether we succeed or not is up to us… it is not the customers fault!
    Great post!!

  29. I like that this article is direct and to-the-point, wonderful!

  30. Compact and powewrful list, easy to follow, I will have to print this one out and keep it close by. Thanks for posting!

  31. “Forget about being “unique”, or “different” and focus in on being a valuable expert.”

    This is great advice!

  32. Thanks, excellent advice.

  33. This was AWESOME! Thank you so much for sharing your things. Sometimes we just need to step back and look at the big picture. We get carried away in BAU things where we should be looking at what we can do to progress our biz. THANK YOU!

  34. Thank you for sharing! I am just starting out and soaking up any great advice thrown my way!

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