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Business Smarts for the Creative Arts (October 2014): Entrepreneurship

By Caley Cannon


In Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business, Meg Ilasco and Joy Cho add to the discussion about freelance work begun by Faimon in The Designer’s Guide to Business and Careers.  This book is aimed at all creative professionals, including illustrators, photographers, and animators.  The authors offer their own perspectives on the qualities of a successful freelancer and discuss how creative professionals can prepare in advance for success, should they choose to be self-employed.  Interviews with established freelance artists in a variety of creative fields are included to ensure that the concepts and guidance offered are practical and firmly grounded in reality.  As the authors state in their introduction, “freelancing is a leap of faith.”  Though success cannot be guaranteed, the authors are quick to identify and explore the advantages of freelance work, such as independence, creative control, and the potential to earn more.  They endeavor to provide all the practical support needed to begin a freelance career, including communication skills, getting clients/commissions, time management, bookkeeping, negotiating fees, hiring and managing staff, and balancing one’s personal and professional life.  The book concludes with a chapter on next steps, including when to reevaluate freelancing and return to the traditional job market, becoming a teacher, and expanding a freelance business to include partners and interns.

Creative professionals who have made a well-informed decision to start their own businesses likely will benefit from Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers.  This book focuses on helping readers understand, analyze, create, and implement an innovative business model.  The authors identify the key components of such a business model and offer an in-depth examination of each of the segments.  They explore various types of businesses, such as those concerned with product innovation or relationships with customers.  They also provide examples of well-known companies or services employing innovative business models, including Apple, Lego, Facebook, and eBay.  The authors pay considerable attention to the process of designing a business model, including visual thinking and storytelling; using scenarios to guide the process; strategic planning; and performing a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis.  Creative professionals who desire to establish and sustain a successful business, regardless of size or industry, will appreciate this volume’s comprehensiveness.

Visual artists seeking a business plan dedicated to creative industries may want to review Constance Smith’s Art Marketing 101: An Artist’s Guide to a Successful Business Plan, a guide to successfully managing the day-to-day considerations of running an art business.  Now in its fourth edition, this volume covers business basics such as pricing, tax issues, legal records and copyright, branding and marketing, public relations, and strategic planning for short- and long-term success.  Smith explores the psychology of success, including the necessity of careful planning, working with intention and purpose, establishing goals, and creating a mission statement that gives direction to a creative business.  Other practical advice involves developing a professional website, customer management, and social networking.  Readers also will appreciate the section on using Kickstarter, a crowd-based, fund-raising platform and website that has enabled the fulfillment of many creative projects.

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