As a creative business owner you get to follow new rules for success. When you get bigger than life (and you will!) you probably won’t be outsourcing your craft or letting go of the creative development--you are the reason your business exists! Stepping aside to manage a team would just break your heart and take away your vision.
Keep the creative control and know when to ask for some help--make sure your helpers understand your vision and creative culture from the moment they become a part of your business family.
Progressive brands look inside their business before selling pieces of it to their customers. Why should you aspire to be a progressive brand? Because there are millions of you! You are a small creative business with passion and a thousand ideas unfolding daily. Before you can sell your work, before you can develop your products, before you can be a social media guru, and before you can brand your future, you need to develop your small creative business culture.
Your creative business culture isn’t a single piece of your business--it is the business. So, here are 5 Steps to branding your small creative biz culture:
Step 1: Be Really Honest
Be completely and totally honest with yourself and your customers about your business’ mission. Not only do customers not want to buy from a dishonest agenda you won’t know what your business is here to do. Being transparent within your business builds genuine connection to you. Customer loyalty builds when your customer’s feel they can trust you. Rather than create a great “look” build a great feeling business from the inside out.
Step 2: Walk the Walk
Now that you’ve declared what your business’ mission is, go walk the walk. Basically, talk is cheap and actions still speak volumes. Whatever your purpose as a business is being able to show that purpose to each and every potential customer is where your honesty pays off. If you find in practice your mission doesn’t really fit you, it’s ok to evolve it.
Step 3: Build Your Own Environment
Your environment will be a refuge, encourage your brand’s success, and display what your creative business stands for. Environment is your physical workspace. Think of building your environment as creating your dream space that will encourage your work, hook your customers, and turn ideas into profit.
Before you ever consider inviting others into this space (whether that be employees or customers) create a useful space for YOU. How will your space be used and what will you do here? Create movement for your business here. Keep yourself organized, be in the know about the state of your business, and most importantly enjoy being here!
Step 4: Systemize Everything
Systems will save you from getting sucked into tunnel focus. When the sales pile high your marketing takes a back seat, your organization takes a back seat, and your customer service can be sub par. And before you know it you’re in tunnel focus mode! Build in systems now. Systems such as how you organize payment into taxes, overhead, and salary. Systems that outline your customer base and how to reach them, talk to them, and hook them. Systems about how you decide to develop a new product and how you make the product.
Step 5: Be a Customer Service Pro
Put your customer’s first. They may not be right, they may make you really mad BUT they are why you get to continue doing what you love everyday. You don’t need to cater to their every desire--in fact building in an obvious mission and brand should wean out customers you really aren’t in the market for. But the customers you do have you want to keep! You don’t need to throw incentives, sales, and discounts at them to keep their business. But you do need to offer stellar customer service and over deliver on your brand--perhaps another system to write?
Andrea Mansfield, founder of brand & bloom, coaches small and creative businesses to the success of their dreams through their brand.
Main image courtesy of annnna_.