There’s so much you don’t know when you first start your own creative business, whether you dive in with a plan (or without) or are nudged by outside forces.
Beyond the nuts and bolts of running a business, you don’t know whether you have hidden talents for managing others or whether dormant genes for business development will be stirred by your initial marketing efforts. All of that — and more — is yet to be learned.
At the beginning, your focus is on you and ignorance is the hallmark of your effort. Your job is to learn as much you can and quickly, as you get your business off the ground and put solid processes in place. Experience after experience with clients of all shapes and sizes will teach you which markets to pursue, which to avoid. Throughout, you will probably feel scattered, because you are. The sooner you can start to narrow your focus, the sooner you’ll move into growth mode and begin to settle down.
In the meantime, there are all sorts of questions to consider:
- What will you call your business?
- What type of projects do you want?
- Who will your clients be?
- Which marketing tools should you use?
You may be so focused on yourself as you set up your business that you may not realize that the work doesn’t just appear on your desk as it may have when you were employed.
Even if you start with a clear vision for your business, at the beginning, nothing is set in stone. You may feel panicked to “get it right.” Relax. It will be a while before you get anything right.
Naming your business, for example, is a big decision that must be made before you know much about the marketplace. (It’s akin to choosing your major in college before knowing nearly enough about the world to be able to know what your career options are going to be.)
Don’t stress about it. Know that your entire first identity — business name and URL, business cards and web site–will be temporary. So choose a name that is general enough to accommodate your initial growth.
Here are the first promotional materials you need to get started:
- Business card
- LinkedIn Profile
- Portfolio Web site
Above all, don’t obsess or stress about a lack of samples to show or big names on your client list.
Instead, spend your time connecting with the actual people who can give you a chance to create those materials. If you aren’t in a position to quote statistics about how you’ve helped others like them, focus instead on doing everything you can to impress upon them how you can help them, what you would do, what ideas you have. Do this with confidence and generosity and they are likely to give you a chance.
And check out these resources: