Monday, August 23, 2010

:: business models for creatives ::

to this point, i think my business model has been a more model: make more things, introduce more products, get more exposure, explore more venues, sell more things, provide more services, repeat.

and so far, that has been a pretty decent business model for me. it has worked. it has helped me grow.

but the more model is limited in that it doesn't take into account that hours are not something you can't simply more your way into. the more model isn't a sustainable model, at least not the way i've been doing it.

i think the time has come where my more business model and my less philosophy have crashed headlong into one another.

it's like there's a venn diagram of possibility and the things i want just cannot all possibly overlap in the middle.

i want to be able to support my family and allow my husband to quit his government-lawyer job and hang up his own shingle (as they say in the biz). i want to be able to work and still enjoy my family life. i want to sustain my sanity and my health and the health of my household.

i want to grow my business. i want to have my things in stores that my friends and family can go to in their own cities and say, whoa! julie made this!

i want to do it all indie and in-house and organic and small.

but the way i'm going at it, instead of achieving all of these things, i'm going to end up achieving none of them. or maybe one.

the current model just isn't going to work. it's going to waste my resources and use up all my time and waste me completely. i'm exhausted already and it's my slow season. i'm rushing around trying to develop this new product and work with this existing client and open this new shop and develop this new business relationship and plan to exhibit at a trade show and work on a wholesale kit. i'm trying to print all my own stuff and bring in new wedding clients and expand my design repertoire and portfolio. the things i'm doing conflict with one another (i am planning to make a huge splash at the national stationery show, but at the same time i'm setting up this whole in-house printing studio. if i want to do it all here in-house, then why do i want to go to a trade show and court big wholesale accounts? and if i do want to get the wholesale accounts, how can i do that without going insane, alienating my family, and probably driving myself to drink?

the collision of ideas and practices and desires is about to become really apparent unless i figure out a different model.

there's a lot of talk among artists and creatives about competition and whether we should watch our competition and whatnot. the general consensus is do your thing and people will come to you. but i find that these moments of business crisis are the moments when i become most interested in my peers, my competitors, and other businesses. these are the times when i look around at all the folks around me doing sort of the same things i'm doing and i start to ask myself, "do i want to do it the way so-and-so is doing it?" it's not their products i'm thinking of but their model. their approach.

so now i'm curious: what businesses do you know of that seem to be achieving success on their own terms? what models do you see out there? what seems cool, what seems crazy, and what seems feasible?

i myself have been thinking a lot about knock knock and kelly rae roberts. the former has taken a really wonderfully creative idea and turned it into a fun, funny, crazysuccessful business. a big-ish business. the latter is an artist who has made herself a name (and a salary) by cultivating her art, keeping things small, and developing a devoted following. the value in her business is all about her - her art, her lessons, her experience.

they're two ends of a spectrum, i guess, but for me they're really informative. i find myself sitting here, though, wondering where on the spectrum i am now and where i'd like to be.

what do you think?

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