Monica Davidson: Top Tips for Running Your Creative Business

Monica Davidson Monica Davidson

Check out Monica Davidson's ten top tips for running your own creative business.

Tip #1: Know what you’re getting yourself into

Running a creative business, whether you’re an individual freelancer or the boss of a bigger company, is hard work. You’ll need to be sure that this is the right path for you, by working out what you want from this endeavour, and why you’re choosing self-employment.


Tip #2: Be business-like about everything you do

Applying professionalism from the beginning of your business means that you’ll get taken seriously that bit quicker. That means getting an ABN, working out what the professional name will be for your business, considering which business structure you’ll be, and formulating a basic business plan.


Tip #3: Look after your money

Having an irregular income is the hardest part of working for yourself, and you’ll need to figure out ways to take care and control of your money. That includes working out how much things are going to cost (your budget), understanding how money will come in and out of your business (cashflow), and putting in place effective invoicing and record keeping procedures.


Tip #4: Understand multiple streams of income

Working out how to make money is vital. What should you be charging? What do your competitors charge? The more different ways you have of making money, the more likely you are to survive the “famine and feast” of your creative income. 


Tip #5: Understand your tax situation

Nobody expects you to like tax, but learning about your situation can actually be very empowering and help you understand your business that little bit more. At the very least, get help from the ATO and/or your accountant to clearly understand what tax deductions you are entitled to, and how to plan effectively for your tax responsibilities.


Tip #6: Find helpers who support you.

Running a creative business is an unusual choice, and you’ll frequently meet people who just don’t understand what you do, or why you’re doing it. Finding helpful supporters and cheerleaders can help you to keep going on track and moving forwards in your business. That includes getting an awesome accountant, an understanding bank, a network of peers, a mentor from your industry, and professional guidance when you need that extra education.


Tip #7: Get a contract, and make it solid

Understanding your legal situation is vital to making your business professional, and that includes having a contract with your clients and suppliers. A contract is a legally enforceable promise, and working without one is the professional equivalent of jumping from a plane without a parachute.


Tip #8: Take care of your clients

Learning about who your clients are, and what they need and want, will make your marketing process much easier. Once you have clients, take care of them (the good ones especially). Finding a new client costs five times more than keeping an existing one, and repeat business and positive word-of-mouth are the lifeblood of every business. Happy clients will provide you with income now and into the future, and refer more work your way.

Tip #9: Never stop marketing

Marketing is a process, not a website. Spend a little bit of time all the time working on your marketing strategy and thinking about how best to connect to your clients and audience. This includes thinking about who you are and what you’re offering, researching strategies that are available, and working out ways to measure the effectiveness of those strategies.

Tip #10: Never give up

The trick to making a creative business work is simply hanging in there. Creative entrepreneurs need to be thick-skinned, well organised, and good-humoured. Believing in yourself and what you’re trying to achieve is also vital. There’s no secret to creative business success, just remember to enjoy the good times and learn from the tough times. The payoff is entirely worth it.


To find out more from Monica come to Running Your Own Creative Business


Monica Davidson © 2015


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.