There’s nothing wrong with getting caught up in your dreams. It’s what artists do, after all. ? We don’t settle for how our lives are now; we’re constantly envisioning something deeper.
Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get caught up in the dream before we have the capacity to make it happen. I personally find myself putting the cart before the horse more often than not, simply because I’m so excited to dive into a new project, idea, or venture.
If you love doing research about a business idea, then you’ve probably heard everything about what you do need. Get a laptop. Get a website. Get a camera. Buy this, use that, and you’ll make $10,000 a month, right?
A few months ago, I was watching Deya, a digital business manager, discuss why many freelancers struggle with getting clients. Translating her career advice into both freelancing advice and artistic advice, this one moment particularly spoke to me:
“Fear of success is super normal. [maybe you’re] someone who thinks you have to be perfect, have everything in place before you begin,” she says.
“You spend all your time making the perfect logo or website or figuring out your professional business name. That may be a form of procrastination, it may be a form of fear of failure, and maybe your brain trying to protect you from actually getting out there in front of the right people which is what you need to be doing.”
So, instead of writing out everything you should be doing building your creative business and lifestyle, I wanted to take my hat off to her, and let you know the 5 things you don’t need to worry about when you’re starting a business to support your artistic endeavors.
1. Don’t worry about your company or LLC name.
When just starting out, you might be wondering if you should make this whole business thing official. But depending on the type of business you are in, you might not even need a company yet.
I know I could spend weeks dreaming up the perfect name that’ll encapsulate everything I’d wish my business to be. But instead of focusing on a name, focus on your offering. What type of services will you offer, what will the rate be, and how can you find a market that needs it? If anyone asks you the name of your business, use your full name, granted it isn’t the same as anyone else’s in the state.
Now, if you’re absolutely ready to establish an LLC, which is a formal business structure that officiates your business a bit more, just use your name, granted it’s the only one in your state. Later on, you can always use a DBA, or “doing business as,” if you feel like you’ve found something better and once you’ve taken some time to get to know what your business really is.
All that energy expenditure thinking about the perfect name upfront is going to take you away from actually finding clients, students, or partners that’ll bring you in money. ? At this point in your journey, the name of the game is ROI, figuring out how you can monetize your skills enough to work, make money, and start getting a solid regular income so you can start investing in your own creative projects.
I often think of this decision like going to college— we’re asked such an important question very early on in our journey— but the important part is to start with something simple, knowing that you can always zero in on something once you get in the weeds.
TLDR: focus on your offering instead of your name. You can always change your name later, but it’s better to have your offering nailed out as soon as it can.
2. Don’t worry about having a pro email and website.
It might just be me, but I feel a special sort of enchantment when I land on a website that’s beautifully designed. And because of that, it took me quite a while to realize that just because I love going on beautiful websites doesn’t mean I have to have one just yet!
For your website: instead of buying a monthly or yearly website subscription, create a website landing page on Canva. It’s totally free, even for free Canva users. If you want a custom domain, like yourname.com, you’ll have to pay for Canva Premium— which might be worth it if you’re using Canva for marketing your business on Instagram and your social accounts.
For your email: use your personal email, or create a free, professional Gmail account. You usually need to purchase a domain before being able to get a special domain email, i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org, so stick to the basics, like email@example.com.
If you are using a separate email for your business, create a professional signature with your name, contact information, a picture, and a booking link if you have one.
TLDR: make a free email and free website to start your business for free.
3. Don’t worry about using fancy project management tools.
I love talking about project management, and the right tools have made my business run beautifully! But in the beginning, there’s no need to overwhelm yourself with tools that you don’t need yet.
It’s funny— I used to dream of when I’d get invited to a Slack group just so I could use the fun GIFs and memes in conversations. ? But working with teams of 2 or 3, just didn’t make sense for me, and I had to wait until I started working with freelancing clients that invited me to spaces themselves!
The same thing happened when using tools like ClickUp or Asana— it would be great for cross-collaboration, but while I was promoting our recording studio solo, it was easier to just post whenever I needed to post.
If you’re just starting your business out, don’t worry about fancy collaboration tools. Instead, I’d recommend Notion. It can be simple or as comprehensive as you need, whether that’s for tracking students, taking meeting notes, or writing up a business plan.
I have a complex use case of Notion for planning my daily freelancing projects to the T so I can estimate how long it’ll take me to work on something and how much I’ll earn on it per day and per week. And I have a simple use case of Notion tracking a list of the songs I’m writing for my album.
Consider Notion an uncomplicated, clean Word or Google Doc, and take it from there as needed. Once you need tasks, you can create them. Once you need custom databases, you can create them. Once you need different views, you can create them. Start where you’re at, and work up as needed.
TLDR: Notion can be a simple tool to start tracking what you need. It’ll grow with you but definitely shouldn’t overwhelm you when you start. ☮️
4. Don’t worry about niching too far down.
My acting teacher would often refer to our first-year work as “the dirty diaper phase.” The work’s messy, but it’s the only way we know it’s alive and breathing.
Your business needs to get into the dirty diaper phase before moving on to anything else. I remember getting overwhelmed when people would tell me about niching down. I felt like I needed to make my services highly targeted at the beginning so people were clear about what I do. But the truth is, the most success I had was when I humbled myself and took on a broad array of writing work. I got paid to learn what I loved to do and what I didn’t love to do and continued to gain experience until I had enough in my portfolio to showcase my work to people I really did want to work with.
You are already a niche in and of yourself— you have likes and dislikes, things you want to teach or provide, and things you definitely don’t. Start from there and focus on grabbing as many opportunities as you can to educate yourself.
You’ll learn worlds more about what you love doing by starting broad and messy.
TLDR: start your business broad to learn more, gain experience, and make money while you’re at it.
5. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
About 6 months ago, I made a rule for myself that I wouldn’t go on Instagram on my phone. It changed my outlook on my art dramatically. I stopped seeing what other actors and singers in my realm were doing. I had more time to focus on my work and build my business.
I got humble with myself and built up work instead of posting stories or telling the world what I was doing.
You certainly don’t have to do this if you feel you use social media responsibly for your mental health, but for me, I was totally involved in others and not at all in myself.
Many performers like us are taught at a young age that we need to make minimum wage or survive off tips to get anywhere. But we’ve slowly morphed out of that mold. You can work remotely, make money passively, and build up a self-funded career that doesn’t have to threaten your financial stability. ?
But the first step, at least for me, was to dedicate myself to my journey and let others focus on theirs.
TLDR: Prioritize yourself, not an idea of yourself.
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