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Smart Hustle

Your First 3 steps as a creative entrepreneur

You decided to start a company. Awesome! Now what?!

You start Googling things like, “First steps to starting a business,” or “First steps to starting a photography business,” or, “How to make a business legal.”

Create a business plan? Umm… What is a business plan?
Choose a business structure? Umm…. What is a business structure?
Register your business?
Create a brand strategy?
Create a portfolio?

You get the point. Suddenly, you’re lost, confused, and overwhelmed before you even begin. I hear you, friend.

Back in 2012, I left my big girl finance job and started schlepping buckets with renowned floral designer Amy Osaba. Unsure of my calling, I just started chasing my curiosities and lo and behold, my calling was buried somewhere underneath day old flower water and a pile of cut stems. Somehow within a year of officially kicking this thing off, I had pulled in over six-figures without even knowing exactly what I was doing. But as I looked around, I saw so many of my creative friends wanting so much to get paid to do what they loved who were instead barely surviving trying to do #allthethings. They weren’t sure how to sift the should-do’s from the must-do’s.

So let’s backtrack.

A business plan is essential.

A business plan is the who, the what, the why, and the how of your business. It’s the foundation, the ground work. This is the first step every entrepreneur should take, but let’s be honest, it’s not the first step most entrepreneurs take (myself included). I saw a need I knew I was uniquely equipped to solve, and so I just went out and started helping people. I just started doing it. But this method got me very quickly into a situation you may find yourself in….

OVERWORKED. UNDERPAID. TIRED. WEARY. BLEARY-EYED. NEARLY DROWNING.

Out of desperation, I took a sabbatical (aka a break from client work to figure out what the heck I was doing). Luckily, I did this just six months into my business, but I can tell you that along the way all of my clients have hit this point. Whether it be six months in or six years in, the concept is always the same. We have to begin again, but this time, the right way.

That’s why I created The Blueprint Model. It’s my step-by-step signature business program designed specifically for creative entrepreneurs. It takes foundational business truths and applies them to our unique personalities, outlooks, and creative make-ups in order to stop the chaos and create a plan. This is an essential step. Whether you let me guide you step-by-step through creating a business model that works or you decide to keep googling “How to write a business plan,”  this is a must if you want to build a profitable, sustainable business.

With that said, I want to give you three essential steps to get started.

YOUR FIRST THREE STEPS AS A CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR

1.

Decide what services you are going to provide.

I recommend starting with three. If you are a photographer, that may look like six hour, eight hour, and ten hour packages. If you’re a florist, that may look like a la carte, personal flowers only, or full design. If you’re an artist, that may look like prints, originals, and custom art. See where I’m going here? Start with three!

Why three, you ask? Well first of all, it provides clarity to your clients. I see so many creatives get themselves into a tailspin because they don’t want to be put in a box. Instead of limiting their work, they offer everything. That leads to frustration, disorganization, and no profit. I always say, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Not everything you do well has to be something you get paid to do. Remember the days of having hobbies? If you’re wanting to create a profitable, sustainable business, start with three!

The other great thing about only having three is you can get those three on lockdown. In other words, you can focus on making them profitable and creating streamlined systems. You can build it so that one day you can expand your services. See where I’m going here? I’m not saying you can only have three forever. I’m saying start with three! Get those on lockdown. Then decide how to expand!

2.

Determine your client avatar.

A client avatar is the makeup of your ideal client. Their name, age, location, purchasing trends, etc. Avatars can be done a million ways, but here is the why behind the concept: Everything you do, provide, or say should speak to your person. In the marketing world the concept is called “The Power of One.” Everything I write on social media,  I write to Mattie. All my product descriptions in my resource shop, I write to Mattie. All the blogs I write, I write to Mattie. Having a client avatar keeps me focused because I’m always thinking about her needs not my wants. So, who are you selling too? Get specific! How does knowing this help you weed out some of those products or services that just don’t work for your specific client?

Bonus : Having a client avatar and speaking right to them will do wonders for your conversion (the amount of people who inquire versus the amount of people who actually book)! Aren’t you tired of getting all the inquiries, but not all the sales? It may be because you’re trying to sell to everyone, not just one! Did you know 90% of sales is visual, but the part that actually makes visitors become buyers is the remaining 10%. The words! My friend Ashlyn has a great training course on copywriting, Copywriting for Creatives, that I highly recommend if you’re struggling with what to say and when to say it!

3.

Officially hang your welcome sign!

Get a home on the Internet! There are so many incredible website building sites now. You can get a wonderful website up quickly and for a very small investment! I used Squarespace for the first four years of my business and now love Showit!  I use Shopify for ecommerce which has some great templates for less than $200.

There are just three essential pages you need.

  • About page (the most visited page on your website)
  • Services page (what you do & the needs you solve)
  • Contact page (how can they inquire)

 

Okay, I get it. There are a lot of other really important things on this list. But these are the essential three to just get you started. Give yourself a year and figure it out!

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn says, “If you’re not embarrassed by your first product, you waited too long to launch it.” So just get started! And when you’re ready to walk step by step through creating a business plan using my proven system, join me in The Blueprint Model.  

 

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Hey! I’m Shanna, business strategist & financial coach. I'm here to help you make money doing what you love!

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  1. Coley

    April 12th, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Shanna, great article. At the bottom you say, “Want to know how to launch a beautiful website without having a long portfolio of images to pull from? I created a cheatsheet for you : How to Jumpstart your Brand without spending $$$s on a brand designer.” but there is no link to click on or anything. I’d love to check it out. Thanks!

  2. Shanna Skidmore

    June 14th, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Coley! Sorry for the delayed response 🙂 I didn’t get the shop up as hoped before this blog went live — Oops! #reallife. I am hoping this will launch later this summer/Fall. Would love for you to stay up to date by adding your list to the “shop” notification list! Thanks for reading! xx – S

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