(c) Artwork by Angie
So you have an idea. And you have a talent, a skill, a passion. You want to put the two together. You may want to give up the day job, you may want to explore making a bit of extra cash. Or you may just want to share your creativity with others. However you want to develop your idea, your skill - you need a plan.
What comes first? How do you start? Where do you start?
We are in the same situation as you. We have been working for a while exploring different avenues and now we are developing our idea - The Creative Business Network. So it is only right that we share our journey with you as we go along, to help you develop yours. We want you to learn from us - from our current journey but also those that led us here. We have expertise that we have learnt along the way so let us share that with you.
First of all, you do need an idea. Hopefully you've got one? Or are you in the position that you want to follow your passion? Either way, there needs to be a focus, a plan, a WHY? Why are you doing this?
Ask yourself some questions. You need to figure out the what, where and who and ultimately, the why, before you even begin.
We appreciate that some business growth can be completely organic. You may have started selling a few items to friends and family and their friends and family have started asking for more. That is great - it's almost like you haven't had to try! But if you want to continue down that route, and create a business out of it, you still need a plan.
So initially we need to look at the ‘what’.
What is the service you are providing?
What is the product you are selling?
Do you know?
Are you clear in what it is you are offering?
You may just have an initial idea and need to work on product development first, or you may have been offering something that you want to develop further. Or you may be at that point where your product is fully formed.
It is important to be clear with yourself, so your audience understands what is on offer.
Also you need to ask the question ‘is it needed?’ Will people be interested in what you are selling? And how do you know? What is it that is different to what is already out there? Some of these questions now will merge into the ‘where’ and the ‘who’, especially if you are looking at offering a service within a certain location to a certain demographic.
(c) Sarah J Perry Designs
It is also important at this point in time to make sure you are offering something that isn’t already being sold by somebody else. Your product needs to be developed and designed by you, and not plagiarized from another maker or artist. Even if you think you have something incredibly unique, make sure it isn’t already being sold by somebody else. You need to create an individual product or service that fills a gap, and in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd.
For us, we knew we wanted to offer a service to creative businesses which is all under one roof. We will be offering mentoring, support, advice and guidance. We will be organizing events for our community. We will be providing online tutoring. And we are developing a directory of services and suppliers for creatives.
We know that certain aspects of what we are offering already exist, but we are concentrating on the South West initially as we have done our research and there is an opening here for a service such as ours. We have also Google-d creative business networks and there currently isn’t anything being offered that we are wanting to provide. Don’t ever underestimate the power of Google – if you are asking the question, Google will have the answer! Mostly because that question will have been asked thousands, if not millions, of times previously.
We also know that we need to be clear in what we are offering, and that is why we are taking the journey slow, to make sure the message we are giving is strong. There are pro’s and con’s to developing behind the scenes to create a major launch, or to develop out in the open whilst building a following – and neither is right or wrong, it’s just figuring out what is right for you. We can explore this in depth in future blog posts.
Colliton Barton Training & Events Centre
Once you have explored the ‘what’, it is time to next look at the ‘where’. And by where, we mean a few things.
If you are selling a product, where will you be selling it?
Are you focusing offline at fairs, markets or in a shop?
Or are you concentrating with online sales?
And if you are selling online, what platforms are right for you?
There are numerous online stores, which may or may not suit your product line. It is important to do a lot of research beforehand to find out where your product will sit right – and this can be very time consuming. This also crosses over into the 'who' as you need to figure out which of these platforms your audience hangs out on.
It is also important to look at the location in which you are selling – especially if it is a service you are offering.
Do you live in a rural village location, or an inner city?
Is your service needed within your location?
Are there services that are already being offered that you can’t compete with, or is there a big gap within your market?
Are venues available for what you need?
Are they affordable?
This takes us back to the ‘what’ and should constantly be discussed and researched to make sure you are optimizing what you are selling and where you are selling it.
We are concentrating on an online service with face to face events and networking opportunities. We know through our research that it is very important for sole traders and individual businesses to have the opportunity to meet other creative business owners as they can feel very isolated, but on the flipside, the online network offers flexibility and opportunity for further advice and support alongside research building contacts and connections.
As well as the ‘what’ and the ‘where’, you need to consider the ‘who’.
Who is your customer?
Who are you targeting your product or service towards?
Where are they - where do they hang out?
Will you be able to access them?
This is incredibly important, as you can spend all of your time producing items that are beautifully made, within the right price point, but if you are aiming them in the wrong place, at the wrong people, you are never going to sell them. Understanding your customer is a huge subject, and one we will continue to explore in future posts.
Throughout your creative business journey it is important to be constantly assessing the what, where and who, and in turn, the why, as you need to be flexible. Circumstances change, trends develop, social platforms fade. To make sure you are hitting the right audience with the right product at the right time you need to be aware of changes that you can make as you go along.
We know what it’s like to be at the beginning of your creative business journey. There are a million different questions and we are here to help answer them with you.
If you would like any help developing the ‘what, where and who’, then please do get in touch. As we are building our site we will be adding our service packages in due course, but for now we are happy to answer questions and give quotes based on individual needs.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The CBN Team x
The Creative Business Network is a place where you can ask questions, find answers, receive mentoring & advice, and have access to a growing creative community.
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The Creative Business Network
4 New Buildings,
01884 266045 / 07969 044006
4 New Buildings,
01884 266045 / 07969 044006