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29 for 29: Lessons I’ve learnt about running a creative business

Creative Business
min read
In this article

Twenty NOIIIIINE. Yep, guess who’s 29?! This gal. I turned 29 a couple of days before this episode comes out, so i’m doing the classic thing of sharing 29 things I’ve learnt about running a creative business in my 29 years of existence. Let’s dive in!

I’m doing this to share my wisdom with you obviously, but also because it’s a great exercise for me! To look back and think about what I’ve learnt along the way, what matters to me, and how I can use these lessons in my NEXT 29 years.

One of my values is “Never stop learning – you’ll never be finished.” and I also wholeheartedly believe that you never lose, you just learn. Even if it might not feel like that in the middle of an epic loser moment. But I truly do believe that everything has a lesson, and also that we should all share our lessons to help each other, so here we are!

1. Your health and wellness are the #1 most important thing.

Whatever happens, try not to let your business get in the way of that.

2. Work when and however works best for you

One of the best things about being self-employed is that you can work however and whenever you want, but we still get stuck in the traditional 5-day, 9-5 workweek. Make the most of being self-employed and work whenever works best for you

3. Learn more about yourself

You’ll learn a lot when you run your own business but the most important thing to learn more about is yourself. How you work, what makes you happy, what you love doing.

4. Use the mute button liberally.

Sometimes it’s inspiring to see other succeeding, but other times it can be hard to see. It’s okay to mute those people until you feel better about it.

5. There truly is enough room for everyone to succeed.

Think of the creative world as a community, not your competition.

6. The world needs your point of view

If you ever find yourself feeling like there’s no point creating, saying, or sharing something because someone already has, remember that they’re not you. You bring your own unique voice, experiences and opinions to everything you do.

7. Say no more often

If you struggle saying no to things, think about this: a no from you means a yes for someone else.

8. Invest in yourself, your work, and your business

You really do have to spend money to make money a lot of the time. So don’t be afraid to invest in things or people that will grow your business.

9. Find your people

Find someone or a group of people who are doing similar things to you that you can talk to. Running a creative business can be lonely and hard work on your own. There’s almost nothing better than being able to vent, ideate, and celebrate with other people who get what you’re going through

10. Boundaries are your best friend.

Set boundaries for yourself, clients, collaborators, and any part of your business that you need to. That can be when you’re available, what kinds of work you’ll take on, etc. Boundaries are there to keep you safe, happy, and sustainable. set them and keep them.

11. Take breaks before you need to.

If you’re proactive about taking time off throughout the day, week, month, year, and allow yourself to rest and rejuvenate, it’s less likely that you’ll burn out or get sick and be forced to take time off.

12. Keep a folder of nice comments, feedback, reviews, etc.

These are useful for testimonials etc, but are also super nice to look back on if you’re having a rough time.

13. Take note of and celebrate all of the little things you achieve.

It can be hard to notice things at the time but when you’re able to look back and say “look at what I did!” it’s really encouraging

14. Collaborate with and celebrate your fellow creatives as much as you can.

We’re all trying to make a living doing what we love and we can help each other do that. Plus it’s super fun to collaborate on something cool with someone amazing!

15. Social media is a highlight reel

Remember that social media is a highlight reel and you never know what’s going on BTS in someone’s business. If you find yourself comparing your business or life to someone else’s, just know that you’re only seeing the top small percentage of things that happen to them

16. Find things to do that help you switch off.

Being self-employed can be all-consuming. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. And if you’re anything like me, it can be hard to shut off and shut your brain up. Find the things that let you do that and do them often!

17. Don’t be afraid to let go of something that’s not working.

It’s better to let go now than try to cling on and hate yourself for it.

18. There is an audience out there for everyone and everything.

You can be your weird and wonderful self and I promise you there are people out there who will love that. It’s better to have people love or hate you and your work than people feel meh about it. The people who hate it aren’t for you, and the people who love it are!

19. There are times for learning and times for doing.

Follow your creative intuition to know when you need to be soaking up information and expanding your expertise, and when to put pen to paper and start doing. Be okay with NOT learning for a while, - maybe you don’t need another course when you haven’t implemented the last 5 you bought. or NOT doing while you learn - learning is productive too.

20. Being a nice person goes a long way.

Be nice, be positive, celebrate others, and people will love being around you, working with you, and supporting you.

21. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Worst case, you tried it and you can stop doing it if it doesn’t work. Best case, it works and you can keep doing it!

22. The only “right” way to run your business is the way that’s right for you.

However you want to run your business, you can make it work. Don’t think that just because most people are doing it one way, or there are ways you’re “supposed” to be doing things, that you can’t do whatever you want to do. You can.

23. If you’re going to learn anything about running a business, make it finances.

If you know how to organise, spend, grow, and track your money, it’ll make a huge difference.

24. Data is so vital when it comes to creative business.

The more you know about your sales, socials, marketing, and more, the more informed decisions you can make going forward. Track your metrics and review them often.

25. Find a way to organise things BTS of your business.

The better organised your systems, tools, assets, products, etc are, the easier, faster, and more efficient it is for you, and overall less stressful.

26. Lean in to automations.

You don’t have to do everything manually, in fact, you shouldn’t. That’s exhausting.

27. Sometimes it’s better to pay someone else to do something for you.

If it would take you longer, be harder, or you could spend that time doing something more beneficial for your business, get someone else to do it.

28. There are probably more people out there who love your work than you think.

So many people lurk and never comment, email, buy etc, but still love what you do. You have no idea how many people you’re impacting, so keep going.

29. Whatever you do, don’t stop creating.

Even if you have to take a part-time job or stop selling your work or whatever, keep creating. It’s what keeps us who we are and it’s important to keep doing it.

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June 21, 2023







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