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  • Writer's pictureKerry-Ann Clarke

10 Steps to Your Sustainable Creative Business

1. Develop a viable business idea

What can you create, based on your skills and traits, that will motivate people to give you their money in exchange for it? If a similar product already exists on the market, think about how you can innovate it. How will your product be different or better? The most sustainable businesses are those that solve a problem. So try your best to.

2. Validate your business idea

Now that you have a concept, you need to see how valid it actually is. What is a great idea to you, may not be one to your potential customers. This is where research is vital to your business. Search online to see if your product already exists and how high or low the demand is. Speak to your ideal customers* and listen to their feedback on your current idea. This will give you great insights on how it might be developed. The key is to find an ideal balance between what you’re capable of providing and what your clients profess to need and want.

*Your ideal customer is the person who is most likely to purchase your product or service, repeatedly, out of need or want. It is up to you to define him or her based on your idea.

3. Make a plan

You don’t need a 50 page business plan but some amount of preparation and forethought is necessary. Consider the resources you need to bring your product and business to fruition. What do you currently have? How will you access the rest?

Then think about the necessary steps to start the business and document them. This will give you clarity and direction on the decisions you need to make. It’s important to remember that the plan you started out with will most likely change along the way. Which is totally fine. As a business owner you’ll need to be able to pivot*.

Once you have developed a suitable plan, take a moment to write a vision statement and mission statement that will govern all future actions. As cliche and unnecessary as this may seem to you, good vision and mission statements will create a sense of direction for you, and your team, and be that driving force on the harder business days.

*Change or Adapt when necessary.

4. Develop your product.

Start creating your pieces based on your idea and the feedback you have received from customers. It may not be perfect initially, but the point is that you START. You’ll only grow and have a developed product by going through the process and learning from any mistakes made. Once you have started making products, perform a market test. See how persons react to your merchandise. What do they like about it? What don’t they? Listen to the feedback from your ideal customers and make the necessary changes, then test again with your developed product. Did they perform better this time around?

5. Collaborate

Consider who you know, or can reach out to, whose skills or brands complement your own that could help you further your goals. There is absolutely no reason why you need to do everything on your own, and it actually makes you less efficient and productive in business. Practice internal and external collaboration. Internally, you need to find your tribe of creative and technical minds who believe in the purpose of your brand and thus will be naturally motivated to go above and beyond for your business irrespective of any paycheck. Externally, the concept is the same. The ideal partnership* is with someone who specializes in a field that you have limited experience in (i.e. complements your own). That way both parties will benefit.

*If you’re a creative, a technical-minded person/ technical person will balance out your traits perfectly.

6. Consider Costs

This is a step you don’t want to skip. Especially if you’re looking to switch career paths and make this your full-time gig. Take some time to think about all the costs associated with starting your business and/or sustaining it for at least 6 months. Chances are it will be more than you’ve anticipated and documenting it will really help you to understand the amount of capital you’ll need to make your dreams happen. Raw materials, labour, overheads, equipment, marketing efforts etc. are all essential to the start-up process and should be assessed cost-wise. This will also come in handy if you are ever considering accepting financial support of any kind for your business, because you will have an idea of how much money you need.

7. Establish your revenue streams

How do you plan to make money? The answer is never as simple as “by selling my products”. Instead of winging the entire process and hoping for the best, take a moment to develop effective business models that are suited to your product or service.

You now have a developed product. What are the different ways that it can bring in revenue? As a maker, the most crucial part of this step is to establish your product’s various price points for each customer type i.e. Wholesale and retail prices. Each customer, whether wholesaler, retailer or end-user, demands a different rate. Businesses won’t take you seriously and will be less inclined to start a relationship with your brand if you don’t have set rates. As a MoDA Maker you will be introduced to all the necessary pricing strategies and our oteam of specialists will walk you through the entire process. However, you’ll need to have an idea of all costs associated with the business first, so step 6 is vital to the effective completion of step 7.

8. Enter Your Market

At this stage, you’re ready to go to market and start distributing your products. You have identified and engaged your ideal customer, developed your products based on their feedback and have ideal pricing models in place; Now it’s time to sell. This is where you’ll start to position your product in the market against your competitors, so you’ll need to create a clear value proposition for potential customers. Why should they choose your product over an existing one? Start investing in the marketing and promotion of your products to raise brand awareness and interest.

9. Build a community

Now that you’ve entered a new market, your aim shouldn’t just be to make one-time sales. Put an emphasis on obtaining recurring revenue through loyal customers. You attract loyal customers by giving them something to believe in and by providing superior value and service. Focus on satisfying each customer’s individual needs (and not on the “sale” or transaction). Eventually you’ll realize that you’ve built a community of loyal customers that are eager to support you and buy into your brand...Continuously.

10. Maintain a Growth Mindset

Keep your business’ vision at the forefront of your mind each day and work to consistently surpass previous efforts. Having a growth mindset means that your primary focus is making decisions that will position your brand for future success, and willingly learning from any mistakes made along the way. You will make mistakes and your business will have down times, the sooner you accept this the more prepared and less hesitant you will be to tackle any challenges that arise. Finally, be constant in your pursuit of ways to innovate your product and business processes and success will follow!

Written by: Noelle Black


We'll be going more in depth on all of this and more for our Creative Canvas Workshop on September 15th! Details below!

See you there!

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