Skip to content

Building your creative business, one brick at a time

One of the things I’m always very keen to impress on my creative coaching clients is that you should feel at home in your business. Wear your fluffy slippers. Get that orange couch. Own your weirdness.

Too often people talk about things in their creative business that aren’t working for them because they don’t feel right, and it’s because it was someone else’s advice or decision for them.

It’s like living with other people’s design decisions in your house. At the low end it’s something you just live with, but it makes you a bit unhappy when you remember it (an ugly-but-hard-to-fix light fitting), but at the other end of the scale you notice it all the time and it impacts your day-to-day flow and happiness (say, a questionable kitchen layout or poorly-planned extension).

Then the other day I started thinking about how all that relates to the process of building a creative business from the ground up.

You build a business like you build a house: one brick at a time

Okay, so bear with me while I put together a slightly laboured analogy. Like a house, a business starts with a plan. You know what you want to end up with, maybe because you’ve seen an example of it but think you could do better, or you’ve thought of a different design that you know you could do well. Either way, that’s what you want it to be.

A lot has to happen before you throw that housewarming party.

If you think about building a house, you start with foundations, then the framing goes up, then waterproofing, cladding, roofing, windows. Then work on the interior starts.

But have you thought about all the little decisions that go along the way? What kind of foundations are you going to have? What will they be made from? Are you going to have underfloor heating? Does the site have any special features that affect your foundations?

It’s the same with your business. Who’s your market going to be? Will they want what you’re selling? How will you reach them? How can you stand out? Do you have any special features – experience, qualifications, a great brand story – that affect how you approach those questions?

Just like building a house properly, it takes time to build a business

It’s easy to look at streets of established houses with manicured gardens and mature fruit trees, and wish yours looked like that.

When you’ve only got the framing of your house up, it’s dismaying to be looking around other people’s designer kitchens. And it’s tempting to lose interest in the framing stage to rush to the wallpaper shop.

I hear people comparing themselves to other businesses, businesses that have been going longer, and it’s one habit that we should try to stop. (I do this too, by the way. It sucks and it always makes me feel bad about myself if I let it go too far.) You can’t skip ahead and catch up with someone who’s been going for six years, while you’ve only been at it for two. This is your journey, and it’ll go at the pace that’s right for you. If you try to do too much too soon, you’ll end up burned out and making decisions that don’t serve you as well as they could.

Of course it’s easier said than done, especially if we spend too much time on social media. But it pays to take a step back and give yourself some perspective. I’m not going to grow my business as fast as that other person, because I have a kid and only work three days a week right now. They have no kids and can plough all their time into it.

You don’t know what’s inside.

And just like you don’t know the ins and outs of someone’s business (maybe it’s not as good as their instagram suggests), you can’t see how good a house really is. Maybe it looks great on the outside, but the builder cut some corners and now it’s leaking. Or maybe they got caught in analysis paralysis from reading too many magazines and made decisions about it that they really regret, but will have a really hard time fixing. Maybe there’s that one room they really hate, but they don’t know what to do instead, so they run with it because people still visit their house. Maybe it’s actually great, but they’ve done this two or three times before (and not very well).

Don’t focus so hard on the end goal you miss out on the present

I get it…you want to move in! You want your house done, and you want to invite everyone round to show it off.

Remember, though, that along the way there are all kinds of milestones you want to enjoy. Getting the framing up. Getting the roof on. Getting the windows in. That trip to the paint shop where you get to choose the colours. In business, maybe it’s your first podcast invitation. Your first retainer client. Your first wholesale deal. Your first employee. Your first five-figure month. There are all kinds of things to celebrate…if we live in the moment.

Want to get cracking on building the next stage of your business?

Get in touch