You Invest in Gear for Your Creative Work
As a creative entrepreneur you have to make an investment in your gear. You need a laptop, perhaps an extra monitor. You need Adobe Creative Suite, and maybe a subscription to a photo archive or two. This is not a huge outlay, but you make it because that’s all essential equipment for your work. But when it comes to investing in the business itself, learning how to run financials, manage projects, or execute a marketing campaign, that might seem like too much of an expense. You invest in equipment for the sake of your work, but you don’t invest in your work, for the sake of your own future.
Your gear helps you get your work done, but your business helps you get your life done. You take care of your gear, but your business is going to take care of you.
You Invest in Professional Development to Deepen Your Skills
Not only do you spend money on your gear, but you also spend time cultivating and learning skills. You take courses on using creative software, watch YouTube videos on tips and techniques, and study the work of others for ideas and inspiration. And if you went to art school, you may still be paying off a massive investment in your skills!
But Do You Invest in the Business of Your Creative Practice?
Spending time on professional development is an obvious and necessary part of your professional life. But how much time do you invest in learning how to manage your books, or cultivating professional practices? What percentage of time do you spend watching YouTube videos on marketing strategy and tactics compared to creative techniques?
Every entrepreneur has to invest in their business, both with time and money. How much more important it is for creative entrepreneurs to invest in the business side—especially since most creatives are usually quite a bit behind the business learning curve.
Investments Can Be Risky
Spending time and money is risky. You don’t want to waste either. I wonder though, if part of the reason creatives are hesitant to invest in cultivating business skills, is not so much risk aversion, as it is an inability to confidently assess what exactly to invest in? When it comes to evaluating creative software options, since you know what you need to accomplish with them, you can evaluate them accordingly. But comparing invoicing systems, or CRMs, or email platforms might seem opaque, just as it would be for a personal trainer to evaluate image editing software.
Evaluating options is one barrier, but evaluating costs is another. When you’re in the market for a new computer, or a new camera, or other creative equipment, you can quickly evaluate the options and compare criteria. But when you’re considering a business or marketing suite, how do you know if you’re getting a good value? Or worse, what if you buy a system and sink a few days time trying to implement it, only to find an unacceptable limitation?
Budgeting for an Investment in Your Creative Business
Since the health of your business is so important to your long-term success, you should start budgeting both time and money to invest in professional development for the business side of your creative practice. (Says the one who sells business training to creative entrepreneurs!)
Clearly my own self-interest in such a recommendation is 100% transparent. But regardless of whether or not you might engage me, or someone else, or find some other source for business training—you owe it to yourself to make the necessary investment in your business—for the sake of your own future.
Here’s an idea. Calculate out how much you invest in your gear, your software, as well as the time you allocate for creative professional development, and then set aside some percentage of that as a budget for business training. Because what good is the best gear and best software if your business never succeeds?