Top Five Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Starting a Creative Business

Five Creative Business Pitfalls to Avoid

Creative people easily fall in love with the idea of starting their own business. It conjures up images of hours spent crafting, painting, or writing all on your own time. No boss. No schedule. You do what you love, people buy it and soon what you’ve created is all you need to pay the rent.

It’s a beautiful concept and if you’re talented and passionate, it can be more than just a dream. All you have to do is avoid these top five mistakes many creatives make when starting their own business.

Pug dog in a cow costume
image by: i stole the tv


1.Trying to be something you’re not

When you decide to start a business, everyone will offer you advice. You should make those in pink instead of red. Vampires are always a great seller, so write about vampires. And eco-friendly is a hot trend so you should start a line of green products, too. Even better, combine them. Imagine a line of Earth-friendly, vampire-themed, pink totebags. How can you lose?

It’s tempting to jump on the latest trend-wagon, especially if sales are slow and you’re doubting your work, but it’s a bad idea. First of all, you started your own business so you could do what you love not do what you think other people will love. Customers recognize and reward passion. Doesn’t matter how small your niche is, there’s someone out there waiting for exactly what you just made.

2.Mixing up your message

New businesses often get launched on the backs of our personal websites and social media accounts. If you’re a hip college student with a product aimed at hip college students, no problem. But suppose you’re a fan of horror movies and now you’ve launched a line of children’s t-shirts. That influential mommy blogger isn’t likely to promote your Twitter account if it’s loaded with gory images. And if you’re in the habit of using foul language to express yourself online, it’s time to curb the four-letter words.

Once you switch from personal to business, there’s a whole new standard of online conduct. To determine the rules, you have to define your audience. And it’s not just about removing potentially offending content; it’s about making sure that you’re speaking to your ideal customer the majority of the time. If your business is about travel, then you should be talking about travel, not cakes or nail polish. It’s okay to let your personality come through but a new visitor should be able to take one look at your website or social media account and know exactly what it is you’re selling.  

3.Thinking a Facebook Page is your website

Nearly every week, I talk with a new entrepreneur who, when I ask for their website address, sends me to a Facebook Page. It makes me want to cry – for them – and how bad off their business is going to be six months from now.

Facebook is a marketing tool and for a small business, it’s not even a very good tool. The average Facebook Page post is only seen by 2% of people who liked your page. Let me say that again. Not 2% of everyone on Facebook, but only 2% of people who specifically said they’re interested in what you’re doing. Unless those people make the effort to visit your page on a regular basis, they aren’t going to see 90% of what you post.

What about potential new customers? How are they going to find you? Google’s search engine isn’t a Facebook fan and having more shares or likes won’t increase your presence. Google likes websites and blogs, especially those that have been optimized for search engines (SEO). With a website, you can land on the first page for your keyword. With only a Facebook page, you’ll be lucky to land on page two.

If you’re still not convinced, there’s one very big reason why you shouldn’t use Facebook as your main website – because you have little to no control over how it looks and how it performs. If Facebook decides to make a radical change you have no choice but to go along. With a website, you’re in control and that’s how it should be when you’re running a business.

4.Winging it and hoping for the best

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you had to choose between spending the next hour doing bookkeeping or creating a new work of art, you’d choose the work of art. Of course you would. It’s what makes you happy and it’s where you’re comfortable. Once we start talking about accounts receivable and supply orders and online marketing and taxes. . . well, that sounds like work, doesn’t it? Plus, you can always do those things tomorrow. Right now your muse is humming, so it would be a shame to slam the lid on that elusive fairy.

Ignoring the business side of your business will lead to trouble. You’ll wake up one day and find that you’re actually losing money with every sale. Or worse, the tax man will come to collect and you’ll have nothing to give him. That’s how you turn your dream business into a lot of sleepless nights.

You have to know what’s going on in your business. What are your average sales? What are your expenses? What are your best selling items and which type of marketing brings in the most customers? If it’s too much for you, hire help or have a trusted family member watch the numbers and brief you once a week. It’s too important not to know.

If you build it, they will come

Image by: purplepic

5.Believing if you build it, they should come

A movie made us all believe that if you build it, they will come. But building an online store is just one of the first steps to becoming a creative entrepreneur. There is no foot traffic on the world wide web. People can’t drive by or notice your front window while they’re having lunch across the street. If you want customers you must actively push or pull them into your online store. You do this with SEO and social media, giveaways and blog reviews, email and off-line marketing, too.

It’s not enough to be talented; you have to tell everyone who will listen that you’re talented. That’s hard, I know, but take a good look around the internet. You’ll find 100’s of people with half your talent making twice the money and enjoying three times the fame. The difference is, they weren’t afraid to put themselves out there.

Here’s the new, creative entrepreneur twist on the old saying, “build it, promote it, and then they will come.

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