How Creative Entrepreneurs Can Mix Business with Pleasure

November 4, 2015
Desk with book pens and coffee

It can be a challenge to take a right-brained person and drop them into a left-brained endeavor like running a business. Spreadsheets, accounting programs, business plans – just thinking about those things can send a creative person into a tailspin.

What drives a lot of creative people into self employment is that they are stifled in structured work environments.

I’m a writer, and I also into photography, love to paint using watercolors, have a weekly podcast,  am a musician (if my years in the high school band count) and teach writing (business and creative) in online and in-person workshops.

I don’t just do one thing. I never have. But my love for creative expression doesn’t always line up with the practical things that have to get done when it comes to business.

Sure, I’ve balanced between the “right-brained” creative pursuits and “left-brained” practicality. When I changed careers from the fashion industry into information technology, on the outside it seemed like I’d made a huge leap. But it wasn’t really.

Learning a computer programming language is similar to learning any other language. In fact, when I met with the computer school’s counselor I was told that people who had a background in music or languages actually had an advantage in learning computer programming.

Who’d have thought it? Most people believe that there’s a firm line between the two worlds, but it is possible to cross from one to the other when necessary. The thing is to be able to manage them both when it running a business.

If you are a right-brained entrepreneur, are you dealing with any of these challenges?

Structure – when you are creative and you want to be self-employed, you will have to deal with schedules, structure and systems. Otherwise, you’ll either start a lot of projects and never finish anything, or spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re going to do, but never starting.

Pricing – setting the right price on your creations can be a challenge, especially if you feel that money doesn’t mix with creative expression. Pricing is a challenge for most business owners, but you should never feel guilty about asking to be paid. On the other side of the coin, you’ll work against yourself if you feel that being paid equals selling out.

Reluctance to put a financial value your work – a lot of the time creative people are expected to give their work away for the “exposure.” Well, at what point have you been exposed enough? When do you start asking for compensation? If you don’t have an answer to that, it’s time to take an honest look at things. Are you running a charity or a business?

Fear that no one will pay for what you create –  have you ever been told that you’ll never make any money making art? Years ago I was discouraged from taking my writing seriously because “books don’t make any money.” ((Actually, they do, but that’s a topic for another post.) Were you ever discouraged from being an artist by people who suggested you should  be practical and “get a good job and a pension?”

00443599With thoughts and fears like that in the back of your mind, it’ll be almost impossible to build a successful business.

So how can you get clear of all that crap?

Here are a few tips:

• Make a schedule for yourself.  Nothing fancy. Just note what you have to accomplish each day. When get distracted, it’ll help to have your list of tasks to refer to.

If you have to track time for billing, check out apps like My Hours or Toggl. Or, just use a spreadsheet program (like Excel) or a notebook (if you prefer to write it down). Whatever works to keep you on track.

• Hire help if you can. Rather than struggle with an accounting program, it’ll be easy to have a bookkeeper handle things. If that kind of investment is still out of your reach, check out programs like Freshbooks, or Xero.

• Be honest about what you’re good at, and what you’re not so good at. Delegation is not a dirty word. If you can hand off administrative tasks to a VA, an intern or an assistant, you’ll have more time to work on the things that you do best. I work with a VA to help me with my podcast scheduling and it’s great. She handles the details, and I get to do more of what I’m good at.

• Have a plan for what you want to accomplish/complete/create in 30 days, or 60 days, or 90, etc. Why do I suggest that? Because you will have real goals to work towards. For instance, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I refer to my “to do” list and prioritize based on when I want to get things done. I know if I have to complete a book within a certain time, that’s the priority over other tasks.

It’s easy to get sidetracked. When that happens you end up chasing shiny objects that have nothing to do with the task at hand. Then at the end of the day, you look up and wonder where the time went. That route leads to frustration, disappointed clients and lost revenue.

Creative entrepreneurs are also visionaries. But every vision requires action so you can bring it to life.  You can create a thriving business and stay true to yourself as an artist.

Get into the right mindset and take action so you can strike a balance between expressing your creativity and keeping the business part in order.

Copyright © 2015 Deborah A. Bailey

Deborah A Bailey

Deborah is a writer, writing workshop presenter and published author. She's host of the Women Entrepreneurs Radio podcast.

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