It’s not easy, but be bold, brave and consistent, and you will get there!
You’ve ditched the day job and the office politics to concentrate on your passion, you’ve taken the plunge and have all of your focus on a new, more creative, career – but you’ve also foregone the security of a monthly pay packet, steady office hours and a pension – so how do you make what, up until now, has been a full-time hobby, into a proper job which will earn you a salary? Getting off to a good start is vital. Setting up a new creative business is hard but it’s also so exhilarating – and you’ll learn so much more than you think!
Our top tips will help you get your new business off the ground in no time at all:
It’s all in a name…
You’ve spent years plotting your escape from the office and the nine to five rat race, to make your hobby or passion a full-time dream, but now it’s come to the crunch you’re not quite sure what to call yourself or your business. Well, you can’t promote or market your business without a name!
It needs to be something you’re comfortable with, fits your brand, is relatively easy to pronounce or spell, and is something that people remember. If you’re not sure, brainstorm with people you trust, or test it out on your social media first.
DO: Check Companies House – you don’t want a name that is too common, but also check out similar companies on Start.biz – it’s a clever tool to search businesses with. Check if the domain name and all social accounts are available. Having the same social name across all platforms is a real bonus, especially if you have a unique name as this will avoid confusion with other businesses.
DON’T: Back yourself into a corner with a name. If it is too specific (i.e. Jill Smith Crochet) it leaves you no room to grow and adapt beyond that set thing (crochet, in this instance).
We don’t mean a 300-page dossier that would give War and Peace a run for its money! We mean having a tangible plan with your vision, mission and aims, together in one place which will set out what your objectives are, how you’re going to achieve them and how you’re going to finance it. A business plan is no good if it’s so technical that it would send your nearest and dearest to sleep, or just gathers dust sitting on your bookshelf. It needs to be a working document that you can refer back to, update as your business grows, and helps keep you focused and on track.
Let’s be honest. With Instagram and all the other social media channels changing the way we market ourselves, branding is even more important if we want to stand out from the crowd. You want your name and your products to be instantly recognisable, you want them to be liked, shared and commented on. The only way to do that is to get your branding and marketing right. Remember too that branding isn’t just a logo on your signage or business cards; it’s everything from the way you set out your stall to the products you sell, the way you treat your customers to your tone of voice on social media. If your business is going to succeed, your branding has to be on-point from the off.
DO: Spend a little money getting someone to professionally create you a high resolution logo and social media images. Get some great images of your work too – this can be with a phone but do so with caution. Click here for tips on product photography.
DON’T: Rush a logo yourself. This can look unprofessional, but if you wish to make your own, click here for our tips on using Canva for graphic design.
Personal Survival Budget
How can you set yourself sales targets if you don’t know how much you need to earn to live? We’re not just talking in terms of a mortgage, gas bill, car loans and childcare costs, we’re talking everything – from how much you spend on Christmas presents to your monthly cut and colour! Before you launch any business, you really need to work out exactly how much you need to bring home a month in order to survive. Then work backwards. What do you need to survive — therefore how much stock do you need to sell? This can help guide product prices too, and you instantly know when you’re in the red or the green zone financially.
If there’s one thing you need to get right – it’s your socials. Click here for our Beginner’s Guide to social media. We’re all vying for attention online. You and your products need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed in such an overcrowded marketplace, and your socials will help you do that.
Set up your accounts, and whether it’s Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest or Facebook, we strongly recommend they have the same name on all platforms if you can. Come up with a social media plan of what you’re going to post and when and how you’re going to manage your content. Then
make sure try to stick to it! It’s tough and if you’ve been unrealistic in your plan it will show. Click here for some tips on organising your day and planning out your social media strategy as a small business owner. Check out further social media tips in our ‘Are you Instagram ready?’ and ‘Help with Instagram’ blogs.
DO: Be consistent and authentic. Sell your story – people like to buy from people and your audience will want to know who you are and what you’re about.
DON’T: Post personal stuff. If it is a business account, there is no need to share your food or dog pictures on the IG grid. Story posts are for the more informal, but your grid should be about the good photo arrangement as it is your shop window. Yes, your pets may give an insight into who you are and behind-the-scenes, but saves it for your Stories!
Do some research to find out what business insurance you need and shop about for the most competitive quotes. Often this gets missed when you’re setting up but it’s vitally important. There are different kinds of business insurance, so before you buy look into exactly what cover you need, whether it’s public liability, product liability, business property or professional indemnity. It can be a bit of a minefield so do your research and if in doubt ask an insurance expert or broker before you part with your well-earned cash. If you are just trading at markets they usually require you to have around a 5-10 million pound Public Liability cover – this sounds expensive but it isn’t. Prices can start at £35 and go up to £150 max for the year. We cannot recommend any but take a look at memberships with companies like A-N and NMTF as they come with PL insurance.
There’s that age-old adage – people buy from people. But how they can buy from you if they don’t know you exist? If you’re starting out in business, get your name and product out there and shout about it to as many people that will listen! One great way (as well as using social media), is to join forces with others, meet people and collaborate.
Creative businesses benefit from the social aspect of going to meet ups and networking events.
One of the benefits of joining Pedddle is our huge creative community, and we host meet-ups around the UK for our members. Click here to see exactly how joining Pedddle can help your business.
Capture Customer Feedback
Ask customers to share their pictures of your products on-line, get them to give you Google reviews, or share your product reviews on socials. What’s the first thing you do before booking a holiday or trying a new restaurant? Most of us check online reviews first. If you get great ones, your reputation will grow and you’re more likely to get more customers as a result.
If you have friends or family who run their own business, get advice. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel here – ask them what lessons they learnt, if there is anything they would have done differently, and ask if they have got any advice you could learn from. There are lots of places you can go to to get business start-up advice, including your local Chamber of Commerce. They’ll have courses you can go to, networking events you can attend, advice on grants and funding you could potentially apply for.
For creatives, our blogs are full of useful advice, and websites like Mollie Makes and Folksy have great content about getting started and selling. Leona from Indie-Roller is a really great person to listen to – she hosts a community of creatives but also runs a podcast full of useful tips.
DO: Listen to what people have to say – but remember that their opinions are not facts.
DON’T: Try and do it all alone! Learn from those who’ve been there and done it before.
Managing your finances is so important. You must be aware of how much you’ve invested in the business, what targets to set yourself and your turnover/expenses. There is software you can use like Earnr – this is a wonderful app kept simple for the beginner right through to the more establish sole trader. There are also Quickbooks or Xero to gather more detail, but often a simple Excel spreadsheet is all you need initially. This may have to change as 2024 sees the move to making tax digital. An appointment with a good accountant right at the start of your business journey is definitely worth the time and the money.
Want other tips? If there’s something you’d like to read about, contact us at [email protected]