Strategy - Take Time To Evaluate What's Working...and What's Not

"Old Stuff Does Not Open New Doors"

As a business owner and creative entrepreneur, I am always reevaluating my practice of business, my marketing strategies, how I can make my clients (and my own) experience better and grow my business.

Being creative and fantastic at what you do is great....but it a small part of your business.  And, if you are not treating your venture like a business that makes money then its reduced to a hobby.  Hobbies are great.  I have plenty of them but hobbies do not pay the bills

Often, creatives do something as a hobby.  Then...they get noticed and someone wants their talents for hire.  That is when thing can get a little complicated and it makes really good sense to look at each project with objective eyes.  Get feedback.  Ask what went well and what could be better.  

Five Tips On Evaluating and Improving Your Business

1) If the same issues continue to come up with each project, perhaps you need to switch up your protocol (how you work).  For many in the creative field, its getting paid as agreed upon and on time usually.  That is on you.  You must get very comfortable with understanding your value AND being able to communicate it.  Clients don't especially understand it.  Tell them what they are paying for and why.  People don't like to a) lose money and b) have nightmares or unexpected problems.  You are there to mitigate that. 

2) Is your "system" setup?  Do you seamlessly go through each step and process smoothly during a project?  Albeit, there is stress and time spent being thorough but is your time being used wisely?  Or are you getting caught up on issues that could be delegated?  Look at what can be done remotely.  Perhaps you can hire someone freelance per project. See what you can do to eliminate your use of time for the "small stuff" so you can focus on driving the business.  Note:  You need to know what those "small things" are and be able to delegate....or you will never be able to grow your business.  That is called micromanaging....really, there are qualified people who can actually do the job given the opportunity.

3) How are your communication skills?   Time is well spent developing a good relationship and connecting with clients, colleagues, trades and those who support your work.  It's those relationships that not only enrich your work but also build your business. For example, tradespeople who you loyally work with and depend on will come through for you in a pinch.  I have counted on this many times.  Additionally, I have come to know what their work ethic is, their product and I can trust them to do the job right.   Also, they refer others looking for your great work to me.   Best of all, they are people I like working with.  Colleagues are great for shared wisdom and clients love the extra attention.  Polish those skills

4) Are you taking on too much?  It is hard to be your own boss and not have certainty about projects.  Most of the time, with an established business, you will be busy for now.  We get uncertain and don't want to turn down good opportunities.   Most of the time but small projects come along and we fit them in, then a few terrific big projects and you've said yes to so much are spread too thin.  That is when you have to evaluate if you're charging enough.  It's simple economics: high demand, ....raise your fee/rates and take less work.  Yes, that is scary because what if you get no work?  That won't happen if you raise your rates within reason.  Then, you can take fewer jobs, providing the same high quality and are earning just as much or more.   Note: don't raise your rates beyond what you are able to deliver. Stay within what the market allows and makes sense for your experience and knowledge.

5) Marketing.  Ugh...yes, that too.  Most of us are so busy running the business that often marketing is overlooked or forgotten.  Word of mouth is terrific but you still need an online presence, website - kept up to date and marketing of some sort.  Paying someone else to manage your marketing is a good idea if you can afford someone who is reliable, talented and consistent.  You may have to try a few until you find the right fit.  Small businesses have narrow budgets for marketing and need to be creative in how they get exposure.  You are creative....come up with something and stay consistent with it.

Reevaluating And Taking Time To Get Feedback

This is so very important.  Get testimonials.  Ask what you could do better - not only clients but with support and trades.  How can you make the experience better?  What could have been avoided?  If the same issues keep popping are not doing your due diligence and finding out what you could do better.  In the end, everyone does better work and refers you out when the experience is a good one.

If this was helpful....

Continue to follow Better by Design.  It is a website of blogs, information, and tips for the new entrepreneur and helps those learning how to be a designer....mainly those who are creative but not business minded.  That's ok!  You can learn what you need here, find support and keep doing what you love....Make it easy and click for the Friday 5 to get vlogs, and thumbnails on best posts - gather tips and be successful at your own business. Follow on social media: IG, TW, FB

Elizabeth Ribons, Creative Entrepreneur and Designer