Three warning signs your creative business will fail (red flags to watch out for)

If you have a good idea for a business that provides value (by making something people want, need, like or enjoy), it’s easy to get sidetracked by details that don’t matter, and waste months playing around with websites and logos (by which time, you’ve probably had a totally new and better idea!)

You need to test your ideas faster by putting out an offer; otherwise it will be too easy to get frustrated and doubt yourself (does anybody actually want this? Am I wasting my time?)

Luckily, there are some pretty clear indications your business will fail. Here’s a video checklist of the red flags to watch out for.

#1. Show me the money

A lot of creative people think money is a distraction – they’re excited about making their ART or changing the WORLD, but they don’t have a clear plan for generating revenue. If you’re not making money, you don’t have a business, you have an expensive hobby and are asking people for support. Don’t beg people to fund your dream: make things valuable enough to pay for. Figure out where the money is coming from.

When I hear people say the money will come from getting massive traffic and then running ads or something vague in the future (ie, build it and they will come), it’s probably going to be a problem.

In most cases, you need to focus on income-generating strategies first, even if it’s not what you LOVE, so you’ll have enough revenue to invest in your bigger dreams.

 

#2. You’re depending on influencers

If you think your Big Idea will make millions if you can just get enough exposure or visibility, you might be depending on people with a big platform to share your work for you… but why should they? Saying you’re running a charity or non-profit won’t help. Influencers are busy. They don’t need more projects. They are rarely going to reach out and help a stranger grow their business. Sure, you can use guest posts or content-marketing strategies to connect with them, build friendships, support their projects, buy their products and eventually they might give you a shout-out, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll go from zero to getting booked on Oprah. You need to give people a reason to care, you need to make it fun and easy to support, and you need to have your own value (your own platform or following).

In other words, you need to build the content and get it in front of people and validate it FIRST; you need some earnings/reviews/media/success and social proof, to make influencers feel comfortable and take a closer look. You need to test out your ideas and pitch and figure out your USP (unique selling proposition) to hook attention and interest. If you can’t get regular people to see the value in your idea, you won’t be able to get influencers (who have much less time) to figure it out for you.

“The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20.”

 

 

#3. Nobody gets it

If you have to explain your vision or idea and people ask lots of questions but have confused or worried looks on their faces, your idea is probably too complicated. A great idea will be OBVIOUS and striking.

“Uber for Gondolas.”

“Healthy snacks for nurses.”

Something specific, with obvious benefit, similar to tested popular ideas, that can be summed up in a short phrase or sentence.

What’s the VALUE you provide? It should be something like “I help creative people sell their work without selling their soul.”

Something with clear benefits that also resonates with your intended audience.

 

Be flexible

Creative people often have too many ideas, and don’t finish any of them. The trick is to launch QUICKLY, then figure out whether people want what you’re offering, how to position and package it, how to improve it, and how to earn more with less work.

You’ll also learn what kind of work you enjoy doing, what people are willing to pay extra for, and will probably get better at positioning or brand your unique offer. It takes time to learn this stuff – but what you DON’T want to do is struggle with an idea for 10 years that never gets off the ground.

 

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me

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