Best of Both Worlds
You started your business because you were artistic and passionate and you didn't want to be bossed around. But now you realize that, even as an entrepreneur, you have to manage and boss yourself around--while still keeping those creative juices flowing.
Kevin D. Brewer, 31, founder of Creative Visions Integrated Marketing Concepts, knows how hard it can be to balance creativity and business. After 10 years in the media industry, he started his Clermont, Florida, firm in 2001 to produce everything from commercials and promotional videos to TV pilots and product demos.
Like many right-brained folks, Brewer says creativity comes naturally to him, but his challenge has been learning the business side of things. The marketing, the profit and loss statements and the sales strategies were not as easy for him to pick up.
The key to mastering your business responsibilities is to pinpoint your learning style, says Jane Pollak, the author of Soul Proprietor: 101 Lessons From a Lifestyle Entrepreneur (The Crossing Press). Figure out what time of day you're most creative and what time you're best at learning. Do you prefer to learn from books or from classroom instruction? Whether you take community college classes or read the latest business book, learning and feeling confident about the business side will create the balance you seek.
Brewer also finds it challenging to balance his creative side with the demands of his business. "It's difficult when I get a business call when I'm in the middle of editing," says Brewer. "You're in the creative process, and it's like an explosion of ideas. When someone calls, you have to leave that."
Setting up a schedule can help in a situation like this, says Pollak. If you feel most creative in the afternoon, try to schedule business calls in the morning. Contrary to popular belief, this type of structure can actually breed creativity. Give yourself strict time guidelines, or work toward a specific goal-like entering your artistic product into a show or contest. Says Pollak, "It's having a direction for your business."
Tony Rogers has a clear direction for RJ Studios Inc. in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Rogers, 44, and his staff of 20 design toys and medical models to the tune of about $3 million in sales. "I came into this business with a creative arts degree," he says. "I attacked it [by] not looking at [the creative side and business side] as two different things." For instance, he treats his marketing duties with as much dedication and attention to detail as he does his model-making. "You have to put the same drive and creativity into everything as you [do] into your artwork."