3 Biggest Challenges Creative Entrepreneurs Face that Keep Them Stuck at a 5-figure Income
Challenge #1 – Suffering from Bright, Shiny Idea Syndrome
Creative entrepreneurs tend to be full of fabulous ideas that are constantly flowing through their minds and often interrupt the current focus of their business day. This flow of ideas is so natural to them that they fail to see how much disruption it is causing or how it is impacting their bottom line.
The challenge lies in the inability of creative entrepreneurs to monetize these amazing ideas, not in the flow of ideas themselves. These ideas are also a tremendous gift. Let me share a quick story with you about one of my clients. (Please note that while the stories I will share with you about my clients are all true case studies, I have changed their names to protect their privacy.)
Sarah came to me early last year wanting to start her own business as a coach or practitioner helping women deal with the stress of daily life. She is a bright, talented woman with several different degrees and training in a variety of areas. Some of the different tools she uses in her work with women are intuitive painting, yoga therapy, journaling, and traditional coaching methods.
Sarah had no idea how to take all of these different practices and methodologies, all of which she loves, and combine them into a coherent business that would attract her ideal client. She didnâ€™t even know who would want to work with her or what she would be helping them with. And she certainly didnâ€™t know how to charge for her services or how to advertise them.
Over the course of the year, I have watched Sarah be pulled by one idea after another. We would put a plan into place for one idea, and by our next coaching session, she would be off chasing another idea that sounded more fun. It has been a roller-coaster journey, by her own admission, to finally settle on one idea that Sarah felt confident to offer to others and to charge money for. Having too many ideas is just one of Sarahâ€™s challenges as a creative entrepreneur and first-time business owner.
After exploring different avenues and trying a few different things, Sarah did finally settle on coaching as the primary tool she wanted to use to help her ideal clients. She went out and found several people who were willing to do some sample coaching sessions with her. This helped her clarify if coaching was really something she wanted to do, plus it boosted her confidence to see how much she was able to help women solve their problems. She received invaluable feedback from her coaching sessions about what she did well, plus she got clarity about the specific problems she is best at serving. Now she is ready to launch a marketing campaign to get paying clients!
Â Challenge #2 – Overwhelming Fear of Marketing and Sales
Creative entrepreneurs are brilliant and talented at whatever they put their minds to. They are passionate about the work they do in the world, and they are called to serve the world on a larger scale. They know they need to get better at marketing and sales, yet they are terrified, overwhelmed, and confused.
Often they are confused by the technology and the modern ways business owners promote their businesses, such as websites, blogging, social media, online advertising, webinars, etc. Many creative entrepreneurs believe that if they just do a great job, work harder, and rely on word of mouth, they will be able to grow a profitable business. Nothing is further from the truth.
Creative entrepreneurs need to understand the relationship between marketing and sales. They need to learn how to price and package their services, and they need to gain confidence in their ability to sell themselves.
Let me tell you about my client Julie who has been a graphic designer for fifteen years. She is incredibly talented and has a steady stream of clients flowing in most of the time. She really wants to increase her income to the six-figure mark. When we started working together, she was stuck in three specific places in her business: (1) she was terrified of networking, so she wasnâ€™t meeting new people; (2) she knew she needed to update her website but was feeling creatively burnt out; and (3) she didnâ€™t have a plan in place for growing her business.
Her inability to finish her website was causing her to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and embarrassed. She didnâ€™t want to meet new people or send potential clients to her old website, so she stopped marketing. You can imagine what happened to her business with no marketing in place. She was suffering from some serious inconsistencies in her income and was stuck on the money roller coaster of feast or famine.
With some coaching, she was able to complete her website and fall in love with her business again. Once she got into action, we also created some fun marketing ideas for her business, and new clients started flowing in. We were able to increase the amount of business she was getting from her current clients, and she has a plan in place to make sure she is consistently marketing her business, even when she already has a steady flow of clients. She even attended a couple networking groups, and we were able to create a thirty-second commercial that was humorous, put her at ease, and still allowed her to feel good about her work as a designer.
Are you feeling stuck like Julie? What is holding you back in your business? Be honest with yourself, what do you need to do grow in 2015?
Challenge # 3 – Having No Marketing Plan at All
Julieâ€™s biggest challenge as a creative entrepreneur is that she doesnâ€™t like marketing or sales and has avoided having a plan that would require her to market herself.
I have seen this over and over again with my creative clients! To be completely honest, I have suffered from this myself. I do a lot of marketing, but I tend to err on the side of chasing the next big idea rather than having a consistent plan in place. Once I figured out that by just doing some advanced planning I could easily attract more clients, even when Iâ€™m not working, I started to get excited about planning.
Another challenge that creative entrepreneurs experience related to planning is that planning is boring. Planning is often perceived as a left-brained, linear activity requiring information about facts, figures, projections, and way too many details. All of this can be extremely intimidating to right-brained, visual creatives, including me. Thatâ€™s why it has become my passion and mission to create a visual marketing plan for creative entrepreneurs that makes planning for your business fun, flexible, and profitable. In January, I will be launching a new book called The Artful Marketer: A Fundamental Business Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs. It’s based on what I have learned in my 15 years as an entrepreneur. I will be sharing my unique Color Wheel Marketing Planâ„˘ template, which makes marketing visual, fun and effective. I will be releasing more details soon.
To go back to the example of Julie, the graphic designer, we have been able to craft a marketing plan for her that is fun, doesnâ€™t take too much time, and is targeted specifically to the types of clients Julie most loves to work with. As she has steadily made progress this year with her business and her planning, she has created some great momentum in her business. Having a plan in place has not only increased her income but has also taken away some of the fear and those overwhelming feelings she had about marketing when we started.
If you are struggling with one or more of these challenges, I invite you to sign up for a Business Breakthrough session with me. January is a perfect time to consider what you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it! This is a complimentary 60-minute call where I will help you to pinpoint exactly where you are struggling and help you to create at least one specific action step you can take immediately to grow your business. Click here to schedule your session now.
Pssst, I am participating in the Ultra Blog Challenge and Ultimate Blog Challenge this month. I love blogging challenges, they are a great way to get into the habit of writing more and will help exponentially increase traffic to your website!