Book Review: The Creative Entrepreneur

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With a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, I picked up this book on a cold and rainy Thanksgiving weekend afternoon at my local Barnes & Noble. And I quickly found that it was an enjoyable and informative way to spend my gift card. Written by Isa Maria Seminega, a design entrepreneur and strategist from over the pond, The Creative Entrepreneur is a highly readable guide to any creative wanting strike out at starting their own business.

Let’s get back to basics…business basics

The first section of the book is called “Laying the Groundwork” and that’s exactly what it does. While a lot of artist geared business books starts with a focus on the dream of starting a business, The Creative Entrepreneur starts with the nitty gritty of starting a business; such as deciding on a business model and how to develop a winning business idea. It also delivers a small dose of reality by pointing out that while having a passion for design or knitting or photography is important, it’s also not a guarantee of success. Using passion as a starting point, the book goes on to show you how to develop a successful and sustainable business idea based on three things 1) your passions, 2) your skills, and 3) what people are willing to pay for.

The next three sections goes into more foundational work for building a business including developing a vision and a purpose for your business, deciding on who your business will serve and deciding on the core values for your business. The author wraps up the foundation information with a section on creating a business plan, deciding on legal structure for your business, and how to get long term goals and planning.

While the subject of business models and vision statements may not be the most exciting things in the world, they are a necessary part of building a business that’s all too often overlooked during the giddy start-up days. So it was great that the author covered these topics in the very beginning in a detailed, yet very easy to digest way.

The Creative Entrepreneur is a highly readable guide for any creative wanting strike out at starting their own… Click To Tweet

Branding and marketing basics

Transitioning from business building to branding, the author first disabuses the reader of the notion developing your brand is finding a graphic design to create a nice looking logo. She then goes through fundamentals of what really makes a brand, positioning your business, developing a brand personality, and how to communicate your brand through packaging, pricing, customer service, and delivering a consistent brand experience. Again…great stuff to think about at the very start of your business.

The branding section made a great launch pad to a larger section on marketing and promoting your business. Starting with a section on building a website, the following sections touched upon blogging, creating a lookbook, how to create a press kit, how to promote your business through public relations, getting published, email marketing, and developing a marketing plan. Each topic provided enough information to get started with becoming hard to read.

Let it grow

The final two sections of the book focuses on how to expand your creative business. While a lot of books targeted to creatives don’t seem to spend a lot of time (or in some cases any) on how to grow beyond a one-person shop, The Creative Entrepreneur spends the final chunk of the book discussing just that. Starting with strategies on how to scale your business, the book also explores the decision of staying local verses going global, how to grow through collaborating with other artists, how to delegate, and how to expand your business with or without hiring employees.

One section I found rather refreshing was one on that focused on how to build your team, how to develop a company culture, and how to lead your team. If you’re looking to grow your business beyond yourself, knowing a bit about the difference between an intern and a freelancer and a contractor is all useful information to be aware of. It was also great to see the section on developing a company culture. Once you start building a team it’s another aspect of your business to be aware of and nurture from the start.

Once you start building a team leadership and company culture needs to be nurtured from the start Click To Tweet

Bottom line

Overall, this book gives you a broad overview of what you should know when starting and running your creative business and much of the information could be used by creatives of any medium. If you need specific information on how to approach a gallery, or how to get into your first show, or how to set your shop up on Etsy you won’t find it here. What you will find is how to decide if going the gallery route is the best decision for your business or if that show you’re applying to fits your brand positioning or if Etsy is going to match the vision you’ve laid out for your business. What you will learn is how to create the foundations that will help inform the decision that you’ll make for your business later.

While the book is heavily focused on business fundamentals, the artist’s voice isn’t at all lost. Sprinkled throughout are brief interviews with other creatives where they discuss their fears about starting a business, valuable lessons learned, and what they love most about being in business.

If you’re a creative who is just getting started in business, this book will give you lots of information on the groundwork you should undertake when you’re first starting out. If you’ve been in business for a while, the sections on expanding your business and brand positioning are worth the read.

The Creative Entrepreneur is available both at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com (US and UK). Isa Maria Seminega also blogs on her website at isaseminega.com. She also offers mentoring and resources for creative businesses.

TLDR
The Creative Entrepreneur is a highly readable guide to any creative wanting strike out at starting their own business.

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