The terms “businessperson” and “inventor” or “creative” seem to be used interchangeably. Almost as if you have crafted a product, nurtured it through tests and are now ready to sell to the public – you magically become a businessperson.
It doesn’t work like that, though, does it? The reality is that the two skills are very different. To be able to pinpoint a gap in the market and design a product or service that people wish to use takes one set of skills. You have to be innovative, creative and have a keen eye for trends and how to capitalise on them.
While the above skills don’t go amiss for a businessperson, they’re not at the forefront. Those involved in the running of a business need to be ruthlessly efficient, skilled at time management and good at delegating. The latter is a particular problem for creatives, who are used to having to rely on their wit and genius to overcome problems.
There is a reason that multinational companies separate the business side from the creative side. But for the small business, you’re going to have to learn to wear both hats – and at the same time, too. It’s a sad fact that your role changes once you’re ready to sell your product or service to the public. There are two different approaches to this next phase of your business, and below, we’ll look through them.
The ultimate decision, of course, rests with you. Each idea will suit a different personality type; it may also vary on what exactly you are offering. The simple fact that you know this may be an issue for you is a good start. It shows that you’re ready to take your business seriously, pushing forward rather than stuck with a product you know will work but can’t sell. It’s going to be a learning curve, but if you throw yourself at it, you can succeed.
Approach One: Go It Alone
Suitable For: Creators with a business background, a lot of spare time. For this approach, you ideally won’t be juggling a second job. It will suit you if you are independent, trust your instincts and have issues with the ideas of delegation.
What It Involves:
This means that you’re going to be taking charge of everything yourself. This is going to entail an awful lot of research, so you have to set aside as much time as possible to do it.
Below is not an exhaustive list, but it is the beginning of the roles you’re going to be required to play.
- Marketing and PR
- Social Media Manager
You’re going to be busy, is the basic premise.
It is possible to make this work; you just have to have excellent time management. A good place to start is to set aside a day each week to be dedicated to each facet of the business. If you are creating a product, remember this will need to have a set day as well. If you do that with the points mentioned above, then you’re going to be working six days a week. You’re going to have to be prepared for that with this approach.
Pros of Going It Alone
- If you have complete control, then you’re never going to have to apologise or explain for someone else’s mistakes. You can see an order through from the beginning to it being delivered.
- You’ll save money if you’re not outsourcing to other people. If you are struggling with start-up costs anyway, then being able to skip some of those will be welcome.
- You’ll learn a whole new set of skills which might translate into being useful in future.
Cons of Going It Alone
- The buck stops with you. If you mess up, you’re going to have to apologise for it.
- No support. If you’re unwell or having a bad day and can’t work, then it’s not going to get done. This can mean it’s slower getting started than you initially thought it would be.
- You have a steep learning curve, and not mastering it leaves you open to problems. For example, misunderstand how to file your taxes, and you could end up serving prison time. It’s how they got Al Capone. You’ve got to be perfect every time.
Approach Two: Seek Help and Learn To Delegate
Suitable For: People who know they don’t have the time, energy or expertise to dedicate to going it alone. It’s important not to see the need for seeking help as a weakness, or a sign that you are not sufficiently business-minded. Every person who has enjoyed success in business will tell you how they relied on others, and how this was crucial for their ongoing career.
What It Involves:
First, identify the areas of your business that it is possible to outsource. Let’s use the prior list:
- Accountant. Yes, you can outsource this, but it’s expensive. On the upside, it does mean that you’ll always be ready to tax time and don’t have to worry about missing some oblique law.
- Marketing and PR. This may be an area you wish to retain control of for yourself at the beginning. Marketing agencies tend to be expensive, and while there is a learning curve, it is possible to do for yourself.
- Webdesigner. If you don’t fancy having to become an expert in coding in a short space of time, you do have options. Plenty of websites offer to help you build a site with What You See It What You Get (often just called WYSIWYG) editors, with no coding needed. The fee is relatively small.
- Social Media Manager. Spend some time figuring this area out for yourself; you will find plenty of guides online.
- Distribution. If you are worried about getting product orders out to your customers, then look into order fulfillment companies. If you are not comfortable pitching your product to retailers, the specific distributors can do this for you. It’s not free, but you can borrow on someone else’s experience for the price.
Pros of Seeking Help
- Experience of others to rely on, so you can focus on delivering the best product or service you can.
- Free your time up for the side of the business you enjoy.
- You don’t have to worry about various rules, regulations and tax structures, so you avoid any future issues.
- You can prioritise the areas you need assistance on to make sure that money is invested in the right areas.
Cons of Seeking Help
- It is more expensive, and you will have to factor more into your start-up costs.
- You may struggle to delegate and feel as if you have lost some control of your company.
- The fate of your business relies on other people and businesses, which can feel very risky when you’re trying to get established.
The choice is ultimately one that you have to make for yourself. Look at the whole picture, and think of why you’re getting involved in the business world.
Also, consider the type of business you have. Do you one day hope to expand and employ many people? Or are you content with a lifestyle business that offers you a living, but doesn’t go much further? Both are valid options, but if you’re looking for expansion, learning to delegate early can be beneficial.
The most important thing to remember about either option is that you have to do your research. Take time, don’t make any sudden decisions, and only move forward when you’re certain it’s the right choice for you.