Some People Pursue Their Career; Creatives Build Them

Post by Lisa Jacobs for the Kindness in Business series.


print by BleebluPhoto on etsy

Some People Pursue Their Career; Creatives Build Them

I’m Lisa Jacobs of Marketing Creativity, where I help handmade sellers build their hobbies into the career of their dreams. I’m honored to be sharing about Kindness in Business here at Kind Over Matter!

I’ve been selling on Etsy and writing about my sales and strategies for nearly three years. I started the Energy Shop with $100 worth of supplies, and since that time, I’ve earned nearly six figures with my creative business. I now work from home and provide a healthy second income for my family, and I write my blog with the intention of helping others do the same. Here are a few things I know for sure about building a creative business:

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”–Biz Stone, Co-founder of Twitter. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Expect that your business will take three years just to get off the ground. Expect that it will require 10,000 hours of your time to become a bona-fide success (approximately 10 years). And remember, slow and steady wins the race. The work you are putting in now is going to make for a great story someday. Your greatest success awaits!

Gain exposure. I talk to too many sellers who tell me, “I want my own successful business, but [friends/family members/work/organizations] can’t find out about it!”

Listen, I get this. The Rescue You Program: How to Improve Your Life and Reinvent Your Love after an Affair is a self-help book about healing from infidelity that I wrote after my husband had an affair. I wanted everyone to read my book, but I didn’t want anybody to know about it. Trust me, that strategy just doesn’t work! 🙂

To have a thriving small business, you have to own it! You have to tell all of your friends about it, and let your passion escape and surround you wherever you go. It’s a mistake to think that you can limit and expand yourself at the same time.

At least have a plan to tell the world your plans. I didn’t start telling people about the Energy Shop until it was about 3 months old, with a decent amount of sales and revenue to back my announcement. Now, the Energy Shop is what I do. It’s my career, and I respect it as well as anyone respects the traditional career positions they’ve earned.

Create a financial plan. Before you begin advertising your shop, you need to have money that you feel comfortable spending. You must invest in your marketing plan, and you must realize that customers may need to see your shop up to 20 times before they trust you as a seller.

The first three years of business are part plan, part flying by the seat of your pants. It’s hard to predict an income, so I’ve chosen not to–and I would suggest you do the same. You’re lucky if you are funding your own growth in the beginning stages of your handmade shop.

Therefore, feeling comfortable with investing money into your creative business is one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in start-up.

For nearly two years, there was no method to my own financial madness. I randomly paid myself, ordered supplies at will, and sporadically bought advertisements. Recurring monthly bills associated with my business never failed to surprise me. I always walked away from the notice wondering, “This again? When am I going to be able to pay it?”

I adapted my business financial plan from the Balanced Money Formula (the link credits the source where I first heard about the idea). It comes from a personal financial plan where, of your take-home pay, 50% is allotted to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings.

My business finances were slightly behind when I started this plan; it seemed as though I was always racing to catch up with my expenses. To get ahead, I started with one week’s income and I applied the Balanced Money Formula as follows: 50% of the revenue was allotted to business needs (supplies and shipping), 30% was dedicated to advertising, and 20% of the week’s revenue was my paycheck. I was on top of my expenses within a few weeks, and paying myself at the same time.

Once I was all caught up on expenses and more in control, I changed the plan to pay myself a better percentage of the profit. Now I even have a business savings account–and there’s actually money in it! 🙂

Marketing is a muscle that needs to be strengthened. In an interview we did together, Leonie Dawson likened the act of marketing to building a vessel around your talent in order to send it out into the world. Artists and crafters love what they do so much that they often cringe at the idea of targeted marketing. In fact, the notion of cold-selling what’s been made with a warm heart makes many creatives downright uncomfortable.

However, marketing simply means finding the customers who desire your work, and it’s time to show the world what you’ve got to offer. In going forward, remember:

Somebody is out there, right now, just waiting to pay you to do what you love to do.

Customer service is, by far, the most important part of marketing. Give 2,000% of your best effort to production, customer service, and order fulfillment. Make your customers proud to receive your item; exceed their handmade expectations with professional service. Remember, you’re not just filling an order, you’re building a relationship!

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”–Henry Ford

At the Energy Shop, I have a satisfaction guarantee based on my secret policy to customer service: if one of my products fails you, I am going to serve you so well that you’ll hope I screw up again in the future. Customer service is not about a sale or a complaint; it’s about honoring the precious relationship between you and the customer.

Finally, keep moving forward. There’s no better way to slow down and grow frustrated than to stop production. Sometimes, sales slow. Keep working. Keep creating. Keep plugging away. If you’re miserable in business, it’s typically because you’re waiting for something to happen. Stop it. Get moving, and go make something happen.

The point I don’t want you to miss is that we are, each one of us, creating something out of nothing. We are artists. Three years ago, I didn’t have a small business. I just had an idea. I invested my time, energy, and a little bit of money–just as you can. It’s something to be proud of, whether you’re waiting for your first sale, or celebrating your first thousand. You are creativity, and I want to thank you for bringing all of that fantastic energy here and sharing it with me!

And thank you, Amanda, for allowing me to share with your lovely readers. It’s been an absolute delight! I wish you all the best.

Lisa Jacobs writes Marketing Creativity for fellow creative spirits who aim to build a career with their own two hands. She offers free marketing tools designed to help you get paid to be … you.

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