Here is the transcript for the video training I did on how to start a creative business just in-case you prefer to read over video. This is literally word for word so may not read as well as it sounds on video 😉
So this is just a little presentation on taking you through the success path that we’ve created for you, because as it’s been highlighted in the group before, it can be overwhelming when you start your business because there is so much to do. And the key is to start one step at a time. Don’t be thinking about what you need to do next week, next month, next year, because it’s about growth from the beginning. So you start small, and you just, you keep growing. And some people do it really quickly because they work, they’ve got full time, or other people are gonna take a little bit longer. And that’s okay. It’s all about what’s right for you. There’s no right or wrong. There’s no clear time frame. It really is about learning to go with what’s right for you and not be looking at what other people are doing. This is the success path that we’ve laid out for you, and we’re gonna talk about each level in a moment. Just about what each phase is about, but it just means that really concentrate on the phase you’re in. Don’t worry if you’re in phase one about what you’re going to do in three and four because you’re just gonna confuse yourself. I’ll just introduce myself and then we’ll introduce the lovely lady next to me. So this is me, I’m Victoria Casebourne. When I started my page business in 2002, around then, and my background is in IT so I did a computer science degree and I was a computer programmer. But I was so miserable and depressed that I could not carry on in that career for much longer so I looked for ways to: A. Give myself something positive to focus on so I started to enjoy making classes and things like that. And through that I discovered baby hand and foot casting because I was looking for a way to display my jewelry. I found kits in America that allowed you to choose or cast your own hands and things, and it really went from there. It’s been such an organic process and I’ve loved every minute of it so it’s around 13-16 years. I started it before 2002, I think 2002 is when I got all official and I went limited and started making it really seriously. I’ve built the business up to 6 figures twice and I had a baby break in between. Because what I love about having your own business is no one dictates to you, you have to do this, you have to do it a certain way, you have to be earning this, that and the other. What I love is the freedom and flexibility to make my own rules and to do what I want to do. I was able to wind it down while I had my first baby and really enjoy my time and then I wound it back up again. I can’t quite, let me just escape, I’m just going to mute there. Brilliant. And honestly, if I can do it, anyone can do it. Sometimes we think that other people have the key and that we don’t. I can tell you honestly that I have many Let me mute there, there we go. I’ve got many flaws, and if I can do it, then anyone can. I’m dyslexic, I have a butterfly brain, I’m all over the place, so honestly. I think all that I have got in my favor is that I’m determined and I see what it is I want and I just don’t give up until it happens. And that’s all you need. You will get blocks. You’ll get to places where you think, “Oh, what am I doing? It’s just not working.” But the chances are that if you just keep going through that block then that is where the success lies. Most people give up that little bit too early so I really encourage you just to keep going because the only way, there is no such thing as failure in this world and in running a business. It really is just feedback and its all about tweaking which we’ll go onto later. Always be thinking, “Okay, well that didn’t work. “What could I do differently? “How could I do it better?” Don’t give up because I tell you from the other group that we run with the ladies, they have wobbles then they’ll email a few weeks later saying, “Oh, thank you so much for sort of getting me “through that. It’s really turned around.” So just a matter of weeks can make all the difference so really just stick with it. I’m just gonna pass you over to Claire. Do you want to introduce yourself?
– Yeah, I’m Claire Sage. Some of you will have seen me within the Create Facebook group. I’m the one who’s trying to give all the motivational posts. My background is actually law, so I’ve done the 60 hour weeks, 52 weeks of the year. Then when I had my first child I just thought I cannot continue doing this. So I left the career that I had planned for myself all throughout since about the age of 9, I think it was. I’ve been here almost a year and I would honestly say that seeing how Victoria works and how she can work so hard to make a success but then fit it around her family is just mind blowing and I think if that’s one of your reasons why you’re doing this is to work around your family or to get more of a work-life balance it is hard work, but my word, you’ve really made the right decision definitely. I haven’t got a creative bone in my body I’m afraid. I love seeing how the jewelry is made. I love seeing how people grow from making their first sample to then selling these absolutely amazing products. And each product I see, I think, “Ah, I wish I bought when my children were babies, “I wish I had that done for my children.” So keep at it because it really is well worth it. Hopefully I’ll carry on seeing you all on Facebook.
– Thank you, Claire. I can’t believe it’s been a year.
– I know, it’s amazing. Who knew with your butterfly brain.
– I’ve survived, wow. Brilliant. This basically is the first step of Create. Really it is about getting really clear on the concept so don’t sort of jump in and think about your branding and things like that until you’re really clear about what it is that you’re creating for your business. It’s not just having a logo. We’ve had people join in the past that just do their logo on their phone, or that’s what they think, but it’s not about the logo. It’s about the whole branding. It’s about the business. What’s the message that you want to put out into the world. That’s how you can differentiate your business from anyone else doing the same thing. You wanna get to a point where there is no competition because you’re so unique in what you’ve created. If you can get to that point then the competition becomes irrelevant and it is completely possible. What I’d been doing is looking at your story, what’s brought you to this point. Look for that little edge that you can sort of weave into it. Stories sell. So if you can build stories into your marketing, it’s gonna help your PR, it’s gonna help with people really getting to know and trust you and want to buy from you. Just spend a few minutes really or a morning with a cup of tea in a cafe or something and just really think about what’s lead you here, what have you learned, what were the real turning points in your life and see if you can bring those into the story that you’re creating, basically. Also, looking forward, what’s the vision? What do you want for your business? Like Claire touched on, I’m very very stubborn about making sure that everything fits for us all. I’m completely anti-corporate now and don’t like if someone says I’ve got to fit into a box, I’m like, “No!” Lets just get something different. You can absolutely, there’s no rules for this. Really, I notice if you got the tax form. There’s a few rules. But in the whole, what hours you wanna work, I’ve recently started working very much inline with the term times. My little one started school in September, and its all about working in these six week sprints and whilst we sort of check in over the holidays, just because we enjoy what we do, it is very much, we want to try and have those holidays off with our kids so we’re not tied to the office, we’re not tied to the hours. And that’s completely possible for you, too. I know as mums, that’s probably what you wanna aim for, too. But what you need to be aware of is you need to know that that’s your vision in order to make it happen because it doesn’t happen by accident. It has to required us to do some changes and really look at things to allow us to work in that way. Nothing happens by accident. You have to be very conscious about what you want so that it can happen for you. I’m a big believer that anything is possible. If there’s something in a way you want to work then you can absolutely do it. But like I said, you’ve got to be aware of it first. So think about the products you’re gonna sell, what’s your product range. This is it, this is your business. You haven’t bought into a franchise. You haven’t bought into anything that’s telling you how you have to do anything. You can have a mix of products, you can add to products. I know a lot of you have come through the keepsake range, but what I’d encourage you to do is to not tie yourself necessarily, unless that’s where your heart is. A lot of the ladies we work with are creative, so you see something else that you’re interested in so when you’re setting your business name, have a think about, “Am I limiting myself if next year I wanna maybe “decide on something else and leave that “end of my business?” What you don’t want to do is create a box where you’re limited by something. Instead of having keepsakes in your name, try and think of lots of people use their children’s names, I’ve had people use names of streets. What I’d say is if you haven’t chosen your name yet, just get a big piece of paper. You can even have your friends around for some wine. Wine features a lot. We always have wine. You can brainstorm all the important words to you, what’s important, milestones that you’ve had, places you’ve lived, anything like that. Just clash them together and see if you come up with some really interesting names that don’t really say what it is you do which gives you the flexibility but gives you that feel for the company that you want to create because that’s gonna go with you. So if you want to be warm and supportive or you wanna be quirky and funny, that goes through everything that you do, but the products can change with you and what you want to do. Also think about who you wanna work with. Who’s your ideal customers? They call this the avatar. Sometimes in the training you’ll see avatar written and that’s what we mean by that. It’s really important to get to know that customer so what you would do is create a fictional person or perhaps you already have someone in mind who would be your ideal customer. They might pay on time, they’re not looking for the cheapest item, what brands would they like, what car do they drive, what magazines do they read, what clothes do they use? Because you’ll see later we can use that information to target and get in front of those people. The more you understand that person, then all your copyrighting on your website will be written in the language that customer would relate to. What you don’t want to do is set up a business and think everyone’s my customer, because they aren’t. And whilst you might be targeting a particular type of person, you’re not leaving other people out, they can still come and buy from you but what you’re doing is those ideal customers are gonna relate far better to you than another company that’s more generic and meant for someone else so they’re more likely to buy from you. So that’s really the underlying pinning of the marketing that you want to do is to really understand what you stand for, your mission statement, and who it is you’re trying to help with what you’re doing.
– The easiest way to compare that, I think, is to magazines, isn’t it? You have a whole variety of magazines in the shop. Certain people buy certain types of magazines or certain types of newspaper. That media is written specifically to target that particular market. So that’s just how you need to think about your ideal customer is what sort of magazine, what sort of newspaper will they buy. Then focus it on the small business.
– I think that’s really clever way of doing it. Because actually you could go and buy that magazine and who’s advertising in it. Because they will have spent thousands and millions of pounds on doing the research for you. That’s really brilliant. Thank you, Claire. So think about what you charge. Are you gonna be low cost, bargain basement, you gonna be exclusive. So what I would really encourage you guys not to be the lower end, don’t compete on price because, especially in handmade. You’ve got to value your time so I don’t know what your backgrounds are. If you’ve come from corporate and you earned good money, you absolutely should be earning good money here. You should be, anyway. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking cheaper is gonna get you more business and we can do calculations to show you that actually by putting your price up by 20% will mean you have to sell less. Then again that goes back to your ideal customer. Make sure that you are targeting people that have some disposable income and they’ll buy you because of the added value because they like you because they connect with you, not because you’re the cheapest. Because if you position yourself in that way and you only compete on price, then you’ve got nowhere to go with that. You can’t keep getting lower unless you wanna work for free or you wanna pay people to buy from you. There is nowhere to go. And also you need to allow a budget for your marketing. So again, people starting on creative businesses don’t allow for that leeway and that’s why you see people working for three pounds an hour. They’re not doing it as a business, they’re doing it as a hobby. You wanna create a business out of this, but you can’t do it on three pounds an hour.
– And not everybody goes for cheap. Particularly when you’re buying gifts for somebody. You tend to spend a lot more money if you’re doing something around your children, you spend even more money as a lot of you will appreciate. You can all go out and spend 40 pounds on a pair of shoes for the children, but, “Gosh, that pair of shoes for me is more “than 15 pounds. I’m not doing that.” So its all about gifts and all about the children in some of your businesses. But not everybody will go into a shop and buy value baked beans. They buy value. They buy the Tesco or Sainsbury’s Own, they buy the complete branded. So there’s a whole variety of people that do not just buy the cheapest range. Like Victoria said, price yourself sensibly so that you can turn this into a business.
– Definitely. Thank you. And actually, just talking, we’ve got Mulberry up the road. People will spend a fortune on a handbag and the same thing from a Tesco does exactly the same thing. It holds the cards and it does the same thing. It’s because of the message that Mulberry’s giving out, isn’t it. It’s how people wanna feel. It all really comes down to how we wanna feel and how we want our customers to feel. A really good thought, thank you. Just think about how you’re gonna sell. We’ve discussed this a lot in the other group. Some ladies just wanna be online. They don’t want to be out and about in their local area, they just wanna sell online because they like being at home. And I’m quite like that. I quite like being at home. And other people just thrive on other people and they wanna be out there doing events and parties. So what feels good for you? I think in the early days you wanna try a bit of everything. The local business is a quicker return on my market and can take a little bit of time. But seeing that Facebook catches really quick, Facebook groups, you can get some really good results quite quickly with all of those things. Just think about where, because if marketing becomes something you avoid because you don’t enjoy it, if you don’t enjoy being around lots of people then you’re gonna really not look forward to the events and the whole energy is gonna be wrong and you’re not gonna be putting into it what you need to in order to get the results. Focus on what feels good for you. Because, again, this is your business, and just because someone else is doing lots of events doesn’t mean you have to. Or just because someone else is happy tinkering with their website doesn’t mean that you have to. There’s so many different ways that you can reach the same end. So that’s all about designing your concept and think about what you want it to look like. I’d really encourage you to spend some time. I don’t know if you’ve thought about doing a vision board but that can be really good fun. Big piece of paper, cut out pictures. Do a vision board for your business. What should colors, what field do you want. Make magazines and things. Really get the visual so you’re really buying into it before you start to create it. Once you’re really clear on your concept, you’ve now got to make it a reality. This is where our six week incubator comes in. There’s a whole set of training for this in a workbook for you to work through. This is really just doing the boring stuff. The logo and website is fun, but registering with HMRC, the boring but vital stuff isn’t it, really? The accounts, making sure you’re legal and above board. The step-by-step things that you need to do is all in there so I won’t spend too much time here going through it. Your logo, this is where you would choose a designer. I’d really encourage you to do this properly because especially if you’re going high end or mid end, it’s your first impression. And if you’ve got a logo that you created on your phone, people will tell and it gives that feeling you’re not taking it seriously. So I’d really invest. Saying that, though, I started with a homemade logo. One that I just want to hold my head in shame because it is awful. If you don’t have the budget to get the logo, don’t let it stop you. Start any way you can. If you do have the budget. having gone through getting logos done professionally, I would recommend investing in that because it makes a big difference. You just have to look at the other companies out there and you wanna be able to stand up head and shoulders with the others out there. You don’t want to be the one that’s being done on the phone because you can tell. Don’t let it stop you if you can’t, because like I said, my logo was just awful. I thought it was brilliant at the time, but no. Just if you can, I would get it done properly. The same with your website. You can do it really cheap. You can handle it. We’ve got a course I can show you how to build your site in seven days if you want to. I use WordPress, I love it. It’s really worth mastering. Again, make sure you keep it nice and simple. Don’t try and do too much too early. We see a lot of ladies who make this massive mountain out of a website with loads of pages and it just becomes this massive block for them. So I’d just keep it really simple and streamlined. Get it online and then you can add to it as you go. Then obviously the insurance HMRC accounts. There’s lots of stuff in the incubator. It’s designed to be like a step by step six week. In the bigger package we take you through hand by hand and we liaise with the designs and stuff for you. This is self study you can work through. Everything should be there that you need. Do ask in the group if there is anything that’s missing and we can try and source resources to help you. Have you got anything to add?
– No. Just with the website. We have had ladies who want to create a wonderful website and that’s great. But then they spend so long and so much energy in it that they forget about starting to create their lovely jewelry and the whole website becomes the business and then they get very disheartened and that’s not what you joined us for. You haven’t joined to create a website. You joined to make a business and do all your lovely goods. So don’t get bogged down by the website.
– Definitely. It’s just a chore. Like a Facebook page. And we’ve had ladies that have massive success without the website. They’ve just done it through their Facebook page. You don’t need it. I think that some people, like you say, they get fixated on it and it’s not what it’s there for. The market. Once you’ve got all set up, you’re legal, you’re registered, you’ve got your insurance. Really in the reality, also, you wanna be practicing your products at that stage as well. Just as an aside, I have mentioned that if you want to be making some money for Christmas and you haven’t got time to be mastering the products to a stage where you feel comfortable to sell them, then we are gonna be putting a list of businesses that we work with into the group that you can have a look at their jewelry. They’ve all said they’re happy for you to contact them and the way it would work is you could on your Facebook page be launching, sharing their photos, getting orders in, you would keep 20% commission for yourself and then you would pay the maker the price of the jewelry minus your 20%. So a bit like party plan but what you can do is you can still market under your own brand, you don’t have to say you’re outsourcing it to someone else. It just means that you can hit the ground running if you want to make the most of Christmas because we’re entering November which is the biggest retail month, really, of the year. So if you haven’t got time to be sort of making sure you’re doing it to a standard you’re happy with, what I’d encourage you to do is not be putting out inferior products because you’re gonna start with that negative note. You wanna be starting as you need to go on basically. So don’t rush it. You might get it straight away. You might just be a natural and we’ve seen that happen as well. But there is that option if you want to outsource the making. Once you’ve got all of that, once you’re happy and you’ve got your products to sell, and you’ve got all your systems in place, the next thing you want to do is launch. You want to enter the market. How will you launch? Are you gonna have a launch offer? How are you gonna tell people? What’s your timing? When are you gonna launch? What I would encourage you to do again is put in a time in your calendar so you’ve got something to work to because a bit like Claire said, your launch can keep getting pushed back and pushed back and you spend all your time in set up mode but the fears within us of what people are gonna say and am I gonna make it or am I gonna fail, we all have those fears, are gonna stop you from going live because we’re keeping ourselves safe and you have to get over that. So by having a date in a diary where you’ve already committed to an event, it makes it happen because you don’t want to get out of the event so you have to be ready for that event. So if you definitely wanna be up and running soon, I’d encourage you to put something in your diary and start to communicate that this is when you’re gonna be launching because there’s nothing like a bit of accountability to make it happen. You can obviously share in the group as well. When we share in the group when you’re gonna be launching and everyone can hold each other accountable and support one another because you’re all in the same place. Then you wanna think about how you’re going to market. There’s lots and lots of pillars. You’ve got Facebook ads, you’ve got Facebook groups, you’ve got Facebook, you’ve got Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, you’ve got sort of blogging, you’ve got your traditional marketing like UPR and your adverts, you’ve got local leaflets, posters, being at events, holding parties, there’s lots. So, again think about what you enjoy doing and just choose between one and three. Don’t try and do it all but really commit to mastering that marketing so that you do it as well as you can so you really give it a good try to see if it works for you. Don’t just copy what someone else is doing because it might work for them but it might not work for you. So really start to learn to listen to yourself of what feels right and what doesn’t and what works for you. Have you got anything to add to that?
– So that’s about entering. So thinking about your launch, how are you gonna go from that setup mode to being open for business, basically.
– Just thinking about what Victoria said about putting in your diary. The whole reason why you do your own business is to work around yourself and be flexible. That’s great. But you’ve also got to when you put a date in your diary, really try hard and stick to it. We’ve had this issue just the past few days where we’ve said, “We need to get together and talk. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” And then something else has happened. We now have to say, “We have to fix a proper meeting in the diary “and not put it off.” And that’s what you have to do, even if its just you working on your own. You still need to say, “I’m going to treat this as its a meeting “with my accountant.” And sit down and actually make that time so that you can always progress, otherwise you will fall short in particular with lots of other things to be learning about the making of your product. You will find that some things do slip by the wayside and you need to make sure that you can get back on the wagon.
– Definitely. Just another aside based on what Claire said, the commitment, business is about relationships. It’s how you treat people and if you have appointments with anyone, suppliers, anything at all, you absolutely have to treat it like you would never let anyone down because it really does, the whole energy. If you go approach and you let people down and you don’t turn up to appointments with customers, it sounds obvious, but that just is not gonna help you in any way. It’s gonna hinder you. So really commit to anything that’s in the diary whether its with yourself or anybody. You really be that sort of person that turns up and does it and it will pay dividends. What you need to do, we’re entering a little cycle now, so what you need to do is monitor the results you’re getting back and keep making tiny adjustments to make it fit you. Notice how you feel, if something doesn’t feel right then make a little bit of an adjustment. If it doesn’t go right first time, don’t just say, “That doesn’t work for me.” I think I shared something on my page this morning about a toddler. A toddler doesn’t keep trying to walk and then fall over and go, “I’m not going to bother.” It keeps going until it walks. It’s the same in business. You can’t just give up and say, “Oh, that’s not right for me, I can’t walk.” You just keep going. What you do is you keep trying different ways to make it work. I can’t stress enough how important it is because that is the difference between giving up and actually having that successful business that you want. You’re only ever like a tweak way. That’s why people give up that little bit too soon. Just a little tweak could turn it from something that’s not working. Copyrighting is a massive topic in itself so just the way you word your adverts will have a massive impact on the result. But it might even be the publication that needs changing. Really make notes about what you’re doing and start to analyze and go through and just put the time aside to go, “Okay, what have I done marketing wise this week? “What’s worked and what hasn’t worked? “What could I do differently? “What do I want to keep on doing?” And that’s really gonna help you as you grow. Testing and measuring. What you wanna do is keep testing everything you do and measure. Asking people where they’ve heard of you, where your traffic is coming from on your website. Really start to get in the habit of really looking at those results. Doing more of what’s working and less of what’s not. If you don’t measure it you have no way of knowing what’s working, you’re just working in the dark. What you do is you keep going through between A and T so keep adjusting, keep measuring, until you’ve got what’s working for you. Until you end up in a place where you think, “I’ve got my orders coming in, “I’m not having to fight for them. “It’s working really well. “I’ve got my systems in place and it just feels good, okay.” So once you’ve gotten to that place you can move on to elevating. You’re just working around in a little cycle until you know what’s working for you. And then once that’s working you wanna elevate. You wanna expand. It’s all about automating what you can do, so using technology and other things but your systems in place so any areas you just seem to be doing the same thing over and over again, think about how you can batch them, think about how you can automate them, think about how you can make it easy for yourself to save you time. You wanna outsource, start to outsource at that expansion stage. You can’t be doing everything in your business so think about where your strengths are because you’re adding to your business. Anything you can you want to outsource. For me, its my accounts which is what Claire was referring to earlier. It’s always our team accounts meetings that gets pushed and pushed and pushed. So we are treating it like a doctors appointment now, aren’t we?
– Because that’s my weakness. It’s the detail. For you, you’re gonna have areas as well that is just not your strength, so don’t try and be strong at everything. We can’t be. Acknowledging the bits we’re not good at and finding some that can compliment you. You would just pay, there’s places online you can outsource things for a fiver. There’s people where you could get someone to come into the office and help you. Whatever works for you but definitely have that in the back of your mind, that you’re not here to do everything. Just ramp up what’s working until you find that happy place. Just as a bit of a warning, sometimes when you’re ambitious you can keep growing. It’s a bit like when you’re in a career and you’re trying to go for that promotion after promotion and then you end up at the head of the company where all you’re doing is managing and actually not doing the thing that you enjoyed in the first place. So be really conscious that you don’t want to keep growing the business and keep growing the business until its too big and you’re not enjoying it anymore. So just be aware. Remember why you’re doing it. Typically its to spend more time with the family. You don’t need to keep growing it and growing it until you’ve got 20 members of staff and 14 outlets. It doesn’t have to be. You can stop when you’re happy. And that’s the beauty of it. We’ve got a lady in the group who is four years in and when we have our, “How are we gonna grow” and what our plans/strategy, she is like, “I’m really happy with what I’ve got, I don’t need to grow it. I’m just really happy, I’m just going to do what I’m doing and she’s paying for her kitchen, she’s paying for her Disney Holiday and she’s just really happy. Why not? What could be better than getting to a place where I’m just really happy and its just working. And that’s what you wanna get to so don’t feel that you have to keep growing it an growing it. If they think its something I need to learn absolutely. I just wanna be enjoying life and this definitely can help you do it when you get it right. I think that is the end. Have you got anything to add.