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Useful Tips from 12 Successful Creative Business Owners

25th May 2018

Useful Tips from 12 Successful Creative Business Owners | office flat lay image |

Creative business owners

Stepping into the world of self-employment is exciting and challenging in equal measure. And when you’re a one man/woman band it’s your job to oversee everything, from the business accounts to the marketing strategy. There can be a lot to juggle and for many of us, it’s a steep learning curve.

Today I’m sharing 12 tips and words of wisdom from some creative business owners including friends, local entrepreneurs plus a few former colleagues and clients. I thought it would be interesting to find out what advice they’d give themselves if they were just starting out. And in some cases, the things they wish someone had told them!

Useful Tips from 12 Successful Creative Business Owners | office flat lay image |

‘My tip is to write a business plan. It doesn’t have to be strict or stuffy or full of formal language, it can be written in your tone, and in your style. A business plan is for you, to encourage you to do one thing at a time and to move at a pace that is comfortable and achievable for you. When I started my photography business I was pregnant and a full-time mum and so I knew I needed to move slowly! It’s super exciting running your own business and your head is always exploding with new and exciting ideas, but at the same time, you are required to be an accountant, marketer, blogger, social media expert, designer, website developer etc. So your ideas need the appropriate amount of time otherwise you’ll find yourself being overwhelmed.’

Philippa James, Wedding Photographer
(Self-employed for 20 years)

• • •

‘The idea of not having a steady income can be very daunting at first. My advice is to try not to panic, get good at what you do and do it to the very best of your ability. The universe will provide the rest. It’s also a good idea to have built up some contacts and to be fairly confident with what you will be working on first. You’ll never stop learning and the freelance world constantly pushes your boundaries of knowledge within your field. It’s given me a wide variety of work experience which I couldn’t quite have replicated in a more ‘traditional’ position. The best part of working freelance is you can structure your work around your life and how you want to spend your time. It’s certainly taken me on some weird and wonderful journeys!’

Andy Evans, Video Director and Editor
(Self-employed for 19 years)

• • •

‘Always remember how much your individual skills, personality and creativity is worth. Don’t undersell yourself or your price, stick to your guns and if something doesn’t work, always remember something else will come along. People respect you when you stand up for what you believe in.’

Matthew Spade, Blogger and Content Creator at Buckets and Spades
(Self-employed for six years)

• • •

‘The two things I would tell any aspiring new entrepreneur would be: Create a company ethos and stick to it. You need to figure out why you are setting your company up – is it to help people, to fill a gap in the market, to create something new? Think about how you want your business to make you feel, how you want to treat customers/suppliers/contacts. Set the ethos and always refer back to it, it will keep you grounded and ensure you remain on the right track as the business grows. And don’t do everything yourself. It’s hard to be a one man/woman band but it can be just as difficult to have a business partner who may not share your views. Tap into freelancers and independent experts to help guide you on your way. Ask for advice and take it all on board! If you don’t understand something, keep asking questions until it makes sense.’

Judy Berger, Owner/Director of Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair, the Vintage Kilo Sale and the Vintage Furniture Flea
(Self-employed for 13 years)

Useful Tips from 12 Successful Creative Business Owners | office flat lay image |

‘It’s important not to get isolated if you are working from home, so make an effort to find a supportive group of like-minded people, who are engaged in pursuing the same goal. This will be invaluable when you need to ask for advice and brainstorm ideas. It doesn’t matter if they are near you physically, or it’s a group that meets virtually, as long as you have that kind of interaction with people who understand what you are trying to do. It’s so important for moral support and practical advice as well.’

Julie-Anne Graham, Author and Illustrator and Breakthrough to Love Coach
(Self-employed for 13 years)

• • •

‘Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses and outsource any areas that you really struggle with. In my case, accounting. No-one is good at everything and the sooner you let go of the pressure to be perfect, the better.’

Carina Martin, Senior Copywriter and Screenwriter
(Self-employed for eight years)

• • •

‘Be clear about your finances. It’s a big jump to go from a regular salary to paying yourself and as a creative, it wasn’t something that was top of my to-do list. All businesses have peaks and troughs but you need to keep a check on these and not lose sight of your finances when very busy. By making sure you keep an eye on any dry patches that may be coming up you will be able to plan for them and perhaps do a little more networking/advertising to bring in new work.’

Lauren Gilberthorpe, Interior Designer at Lauren Gilberthorpe Interiors
(Self-employed for three years)

• • •

‘Collaboration is king! As a business owner, it gives you the opportunity to add strength and power to your business. Working with and supporting others helps with a whole range of things from business promotion to planning. We should embrace the people who do the same or similar work to us because together we are stronger.’

Chaz Snell, Business Owner and Commercial Photographer at The Plastic Goldfish Company
(Self-employed for 15 years)

Useful Tips from 12 Successful Creative Business Owners | office flat lay image |

‘Make sure clients are a good fit with your values and creativity. Try not to compromise this if you can. You’re known for your actions and what you do; so do the work you want to be known for. And don’t compare yourself to others. Your start might be their middle.’

Susan Earlam, Writer and Blogger
(Self-employed for five years)

• • •

‘My tip is an oldie but a goodie. Networking. Social media is great for building your brand awareness and customer engagement, but if you want to build meaningful relationships that lead to sales opportunities, good old fashioned networking is a great way to do this. There are many ways to do this without having to attend stuffy corporate events. Check out Instagram to see if there are any Instameets in your area, or search for photo walks and relaxed networking events on Meet Up. Another great opportunity to meet people locally is to attend training courses and workshops. Primarily you are investing in your own personal development, but generally, these events are a great way to build connections with other businesses which could lead to potential collaborations, marketing or business referrals. It’s great to make connections with other freelancers, or small business owners, for these reasons, and also offers you the opportunity to have a sounding board for ideas, frustrations and could even keep you accountable to your ‘To Do’ list, which is never a bad thing!’

Rosie Jacobs, Co-Founder of Independent Oxford and Owner of A Rosie Life
(Self-employed for five years)

• • •

‘When it comes to working with clients, always ensure both parties are happy with the price and don’t just try getting the most you can. The money side of the business, that can sometimes feel awkward or touchy, should be open and easy to chat through. I always say to my clients ‘I want you to be happy with the price, so do tell me if it this feels too much.’ It just forms a much better understanding and relationship with the client. They hardly ever go down on the price, and if so you can explain your reasoning and thus up-sell yourself and skills at the same time.’

Nick Wilkins, Full Stack Developer at Nick Wilkins Ltd
(Self-employed for 15 years)

• • •

‘Having a bit of a schedule for my week helps me out a lot and I plan my content at least 6-8 weeks ahead. I always allow some flexibility but one of the things I’ve changed that has had the biggest impact is the way I weight my week. Essentially, I will heavily schedule Monday to Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday are my catch up days. I also group my days so that I’m working on similar things throughout the day. Bulk working allows me to have a certain mindset so I can concentrate on one type of work at a time. I also find I work best in terms of things that take a higher level of concentration (so researching, writing) in the morning. If I wait until the afternoon to do these things, I struggle. So getting to know when you work your best – either morning or afternoon – will make it so much easier in terms of when to schedule specific tasks.’

Kimberly Duran, Interiors Blogger and Content Marketer at Swoon Worthy
(Self-employed for three years)

Useful Tips from 12 Successful Creative Business Owners | shelf image with magazines |

Grow and evolve

A huge thank you to everyone who shared their tips. It was lovely to have so many words of wisdom arrive in my inbox – I was amazed there weren’t any overlaps!

If I were to go back to 2015 when I was just starting out, I would tell myself to make plans but at the same time remain open to opportunities as they arise. These might be through business connections or simply the direction the work and business are moving in. Things will evolve and grow, and it’s healthier to trust your heart/gut/intuition, listen to your customers and go with the flow than to remain stuck. I must admit the uncertainty of freelance life keeps me on my toes, but the creative freedom far outweighs the fear! If you’re interested in reading more I’ve written about the benefit of embracing flow in life and work.

Please feel free to share any tips you might have in the comments. Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have a beautiful and inspiring day!

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  • Reply Kirsty 25th May 2018 at 12:24 pm

    AHhhhh Natasha!!! You make such great content and bring so much wisdom into my life! Thank you

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 25th May 2018 at 12:32 pm

      That’s very kind – thank you! I hope you have a fabulous bank holiday weekend.

  • Reply Karen 25th May 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Great tips ! One of the things I didn’t do and still should, is not to undervalue myself. It’s a confidence thing and very hard to get past.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 25th May 2018 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks, Karen! It’s tricky, especially when we’re quoting for our time. I find if I focus on my skills, experience and qualifications, as well as the work involved, it helps me to quantify my worth. I hope you have a great bank holiday weekend!

  • Reply Geraldine 25th May 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Lots of great advice. I’ve often wondered whether I could do it but I’m still quite fearful of doing it.Maybe one day when I decide to give up medicine.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 25th May 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Thank you, Geraldine. I love how you juggle your medical career with your blog/influencer work. I know how hard it can be! I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  • Reply Cristina 25th May 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Lots of great advice from everyone, thank you for sharing Natasha x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 25th May 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Some really great tips! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a gorgeous bank holiday weekend.

  • Reply Sue 25th May 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Some fabulous tips here, forming such a wide scope of business too! Thanks for including me x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 25th May 2018 at 4:30 pm

      You’re welcome, thanks so much for contributing. I hope you have a great weekend, Sue!

  • Reply Carole King 25th May 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Such helpful tips here and all so different! Just goes to show what a wealth of knowledge there is out there. Thanks for sharing. x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 26th May 2018 at 11:35 am

      Thanks, Carole. So much helpful information! I hope you have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  • Reply Lucy 25th May 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Fab advice. All very diverse so will definitely be of use to many readers. It’s a case of feel the fear and do it anyway.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 26th May 2018 at 11:36 am

      I love, ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ Thanks so much for sharing. I hope your bank holiday weekend got off to a great start!

  • Reply Kimberly Duran 26th May 2018 at 8:57 am

    So many amazing nuggets of wisdom here – I’m still learning all the time and I’ve been doing it myself for a few years so it’s great to hear from people who’ve been at it for so long. Thank you so much for including me! xxx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 26th May 2018 at 11:38 am

      Thanks so much for sharing your tip. We never stop learning, do we? I hope you have a gorgeous bank holiday weekend! 🙂

  • Reply Stacey Sheppard 26th May 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Fantastic article and some great advice here. I’ve been self-employed for 9 years now but still haven’t found d the courage to go full time. Hopefully one day soon though.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 30th May 2018 at 10:16 am

      Thanks so much, Stacey. I hope you’re having a great week.

  • Reply Debs | Tiger Mint 30th May 2018 at 11:07 am

    Ah these are some great tips and advice. I’m trying so hard to start my own business. Thanks for sharing this post!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 31st May 2018 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you, Debs. All the very best of luck with your business. 🙂

  • Reply Juan Sandiego 14th July 2018 at 12:10 pm

    I’m not self-emplyed, but that’d be my ultimate goal eventually. This list of tips is going to be handy them!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 19th July 2018 at 9:32 pm

      I’m pleased you found the post helpful and I wish you the very best of luck with your goal!

  • Reply Collin Edwards 20th July 2018 at 10:30 am

    These tips are worthy enough to settle a business future.I did a startup last month and I am pretty sure that these tips will help me in many ways.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 22nd July 2018 at 7:33 pm

      Thanks, Collin. I’m pleased you found the post helpful.

  • Reply Samet 23rd October 2018 at 3:10 pm

    As a self employed, that is my ultimate goal eventually. This list full of tips.
    Thank you.

    • Natasha Denness
      Reply Natasha Denness 25th October 2018 at 10:04 am

      Thank you, Sam. I hope you reach your goal.

  • Reply lisa tanni 7th November 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I always find your blog super inspirational, really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for the share.

    • Natasha Denness
      Reply Natasha Denness 21st November 2018 at 3:31 pm

      You’re welcome, thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Reply Om 24th November 2018 at 3:16 pm

    great tips, thank you for sharing, very new idea for me, i ma feel very motivated, god bless you dear.

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