Just starting your business and not sure what steps to take to make your *dream* or side-hustle into a reality? Well, thankfully I’ve been there before (over ten years ago!!) and I help creatives like you execute their ideas and passions and make them into a reality.
Whether you have a tiny budget or no funds in the bank account at all, below are a few things that can get you started. Although, just as a heads up, starting a business means there will be some sort of start up fees at some point. So with this in mind, maybe try selling a few extra prints this quarter to budget for these or book an extra client. You don’t have to tackle these all at once, but these are the absolute necessary steps every business owner must take in order to start and grow a legitimate business.
If I Were Just Starting a Business, Here's What I'd Prioritize
Invest in a professional website
When I first started, all I could afford was getting my work and products on Etsy. I’m not doggin’ on Etsy, but it truly is not for every business and it can be limiting! Not every potential customer out there shops on Etsy. Along with that, you get to control the design and user experience of your customers and clients when you have your own website. We personally love the horsepower, reputability and SEO strength of WordPress, but HATE how difficult it is to use, so when we heard about Tonic Site Shop and their ShowIt + WordPress site abilities, we hired them right away! Tonic has AMAZING website templates for ShowIt if you are starting from scratch. It's a no brainer. (Use code JENNA for 15% off any template at Tonic Site Shop! Then the code JENNARAINEY can be used for a free month of Showit when you sign up for that platform!)
And ff you're curious about all the different platforms and my recommendations, check out the blog post linked below:
Get your domain secured
Securing your domain through GoDaddy can cost anywhere from $2 to $20, why is this important? Well, you’ll want to grab your .com before someone else snags it, but also you will need this before designing and setting up a website on any platform. It also makes you look super professional when you have a website in your bio, email signature or you can just say it out loud at a dinner party!
Use a project management system or CRM
Your brain can only store so much information!! If you are launching collections, new products or are trying to manage and juggle all of your client jobs in your head, you are going to fail and forget something at some point. I used to think I was bullet proof and would keep every deadline, every checkin and more just stored in my noggin. This leads to missed deadlines, lost details and HUGE mistakes that can cost you a fortune. Trust me. I’ve learned this the hard way. We use Asana as our project management system, but if you’re a client’s based business, you may want to check out CRMs like Honeybook or Basecamp!
Get a good contract
The great thing about contracts is, you don’t get into super sticky, icky legal situations. You have to protect your business! Being overly trusting of people is the one thing I see too often where an artist or designer doesn’t have a contract and the client ends up taking advantage of the person’s services and time, or just doesn’t pay. Even if you fully believe that client would never, have a contract anyways. People be crazy. I’d just hire a good attorney who focuses on creative businesses like Framework Law Group to write up a contract template for your services that you can repurpose and use for every client. All you have to do is change up the personal information and the scope of the job!
Get those visuals dialed
Get yourself some gooooood photos folks. In this day and age, having solid representations of your work is absolutely imperative. Too many times I’ve been scrolling Instagram or stumbled upon an artist’s website and just get bummed with how awful the lighting is, or poor styling or even just a bad angle of a painting can be so off putting. If you need help with taking photos of your work to post on social or use on your website, I have a great mini course that teaches you smart phone photography and is an amazing place to start with this. I used to be a wedding photographer, so I know how to style and shoot!!