For some creative entrepreneurs, the ultimate dream is to be able to take their creative business full-time! This isn’t to say that all creative entrepreneurs dream of taking their gig full-time; in fact some creatives enjoy being able to work on their terms, and having a full-time job to support their creative dreams! However, others dream of being able to leave their full-time job and becoming their own boss! Leaving your steady paycheck and 9 to 5 job behind can be a stressful and time-consuming process, and as someone who has gone through that, I love to share how to make that easier! So, here are my top 5 tips on how to turn your creative business into a full-time job!
1. Get your legal ducks in a row. This is arguably the most important point on this list (and why it’s number 1. Legally opening up a business can seem overwhelming, and I know it seems like there are several little steps along the way that are confusing! However, there are a TON of free resources online to guide you through this process, from opening a LLC, to registering for an an EIN and more! If you aren’t reporting your income, registered as a business, or paying taxes on the money you make, you definitely need to get started with this process! Being too legit to quit gives you the confidence to run your business successfully, and if you want someone else to handle the startup process for you, there are plenty of lawyers who specialize in creative businesses!
2. Create a (free) marketing strategy. New business owners typically don’t have a large marketing budget to spend on promoting their biz, so consider using social media to advertise! Using FREE advertising has been such a game-changer for my business- if you are interested, here’s a blog post I wrote about using Instagram to find my ideal clients! I spend lots of time planning social media posts (particularly Instagram), and encouraging active engagement within the app (and OFF the app, too!) Continuing to learn about the algorithms, best strategies for use, and using hashtags has helped me with using Instagram! I receive a majority of my inquiries from my social media accounts- most frequently Instagram, but a few from Pinterest as well, which is always super exciting! I I have a very specific strategy for using these accounts in order to attract my ideal client and am VERY consistent about using them. I definitely recommend taking advantage of social media to help you find more clients and propel your your business forward- so you can go full-time faster!
3. Know your numbers. I have spoken with SO many business owners that say that this is an area they struggle in. If you don’t have a good handle on your profit/loss, per event spending, general business expenses, how much you need each month for a paycheck, etc., how are you supposed to create business goals and set your pricing to fit your needs?! I completely understand where people are coming from, as I was definitely in this boat at one time. I am not a “numbers girl”, and I realized that I needed to invest in a software that did all the number-crunching for me, and an accountant who helps me get everything all organized for tax time (and then my CPA handles the rest!) For my software, I use Quickbooks, and I LOVE how in-depth and helpful it has been! Wave is another accounting software I have heard that business owners like! For more information on handling your small business finances, check out this blog post!
4. Cut out any unnecessary expenses. Once you have a handle on your numbers, you should have a very complete picture of your business (and hopefully personal) finances, and you will be able to see some areas in which you can cut any unnecessary expenses. So for me, this year, I decided I drastically needed to cut down the number of styled shoots I took part in! I absolutely love styled shoots- truly they are SO fun, but they are very costly for a florist to participate in, and I almost never got a marked “return” in my investment. I would spend money on flowers to collaborate with a group of vendors, to be featured on a blog or publication, which is super exciting, but then I wasn’t really making that money back. Another thing we have cut back on is eating out- it’s so hard to plan ahead for going to the grocery store and making meals at home, but when you are trying to go full-time, every penny counts! You would be surprised how much money you can save by cutting out a few expenses each quarter or year- I know I was definitely shocked by how much we were able to save!
5. Make smart investments! There are several ways that you can invest in your business: you can invest into your education, you can invest into upgraded equipment, or you can invest in more systems software to make your life easier, to give just a few examples! Regardless of what you invest in, making smart business investments propels you forward, gives your product/services more value and/or demand, or could allow you to free up more of your most precious resource- your time! In the past few years, I have invested into a client management software, called Honeybook, that handles all my contracts, invoices, the booking process and more, and having that system as given me SO much time back! Read more about Honeybook here and here. As another example, I have also invested into growing an in-demand inventory of luxury floral vessels for my wedding clients to rent (and I also rent my inventory to other florists). I have also spent money on in-person conferences and workshops, online classes and tutorials to improve my design skills, and one-on-one business mentoring with fellow floral designers! In my own business, these investments have more than paid off, giving me the ability to improve my services, increase my prices, and become more profitable.