How to ensure your creative business continues to grow (without sacrificing your creativity)
Do you struggle to find time and energy to both create your product and sell it? Find out how to ensure your creative business continues to grow, without sacrificing your creativity.
Like a recipe for your favourite meal, a successful business requires certain ingredients in certain measures: a bit too much or too little of something, and the whole dish can disappoint. This doesn’t mean that it’s inedible (well, not always); it means it’s hard to swallow. Even though you’ve had your dinner, you don’t feel satisfied.
Business can be a little like that. You start all excited and invest in the best ingredients – a beautiful workspace, quality materials, a fancy laptop – and suddenly things get real. You and your team throw yourselves into marketing. Orders come in, and you take them all on so you can survive the month.
You make more and more sales, and you become overwhelmed. Perhaps you didn’t expect your marketing campaign to go quite so well, and now you wonder how you will fulfil all these orders. Your team is lining up with questions, and the phone is ringing constantly – orders, queries, complaints and, to top it all, the school calls to say you need to pick your child up as they’re sick.
There is a solution to balancing sales and creativity
I want you to know, there is a way out of this increasing financial and workload pressure and its negative impact on your personal life and wellbeing.
I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t while working with many companies, both large and small (I can’t name drop – big brands have NDAs – but if you go to fashion shows, watch Netflix or shop at either the High Street or Harrods, you’ve likely seen our work). I’ve observed and identified six crucial elements that ensure everything remains well oiled, and these elements make up the STORMS method.
You may have come across some or all of these elements before, but how do you know if they are all equally important, which one to start with, and what happens if you don’t consider or implement all of them?
In fact, every element of your organisation, however small, plays a key role in your business and your personal success (as they say at my son’s kickboxing classes, ‘You might be small, but you are a mighty force’). Individually and together, these elements are extremely powerful.
How STORMS stops you spending time and resources in the wrong area
The STORMS method provides clarity and focus on what matters and stops you spending time and resources in the wrong area. Ultimately, working hard doesn’t necessarily make you stand out – but working smart does.
Let’s have a look at the elements of the STORMS method: Systems, Team, Operations, Reaction, Marketing and Sustainability.
Systems – your brand’s personality
If everyone expects to get their answers from you, then you are the system. You are essential to your business, and that is a dangerous thing.
If there is nothing on paper because it is all in your head, and you want to exit your business at some point, this lack of systems may put off potential buyers and can hugely impact the scale of any offer you may get. Implement effective and transparent systems and your life, and your company, will be transformed.
Team – together we can move mountains
A company is only as strong as its team. Know how to pick the right people, and your team will thrive. It’s the process you use to recruit – not the highest salaries – that will allow you to achieve an extraordinary vision with ordinary people.
Operations – stop being an octopus
Running your own business is exhilarating and exhausting in equal measures. If you feel that you have to oversee every department, you may end up needing more arms than an octopus to keep on top of things. If accounting, sales and other operational tasks seem daunting, find someone who loves and is as good at this work as you are at the creative and design process.
Reaction – your mind will lead you to greatness
Your mindset is going to determine if your brand will make it to the big league or not. Mindset is not a magical key to success, but it can help you control your reaction to, and act on, what goes on around you to get results. Know who you are inside and, more importantly, who you believe you can be, and get out what you invest: you have the power.
Marketing – observe, act, iterate
Designers are no strangers to testing colours, compositions, patterns and so much more. In the same way, marketing needs a bit of testing, and data you can get from the multitude of today’s marketing channels and tested techniques can give your brand an edge – no more shots in the dark.
Sustainability – ‘I used to be a plastic bottle,’ said the dress
I don’t think I even need to say how important our actions as designers are to the environment and our children’s future. We all play a part and should take small, inexpensive steps to ensure we do better for our business and our planet.
Make your mark
You are unique and talented and being able to do what you love should be the number one priority. Having fun as an entrepreneur is what can tip the scales from enduring a daily business nightmare, no matter the profit, to enjoying business success. The STORMS method will enable you to get back your creative focus and grow your business.
This is an adapted book extract from Design & Grow by Artemis Doupa. Artemis is CEO and Founder at maake.com and maakeAcademy. A creative entrepreneur, profit guide and adventurous marketer based in London, Artemis specialises in one-to-one coaching of visionary fashion and interior designers who want to grow their business and have an impact in their market while still doing what they love.
Her aim is to help creatives learn to balance the responsibilities of a thriving business whilst still making time for designing and their craft. Artemis is an expert in digital fabric printing and over the past years has worked with over10,000 brands including ASOS, Dior and Alexander McQueen.
Artemis’s new book, Design & Grow, is all about how creative entrepreneurs can reach their business potential, grow profits and get their design time back at the same time.