Start a Creative Business

Start a Creative Business 101 – Call the right experts

I complain at least once a week that my very fancy Bachelors in Fine Arts program didn’t include a single class about how to properly establish your own creative business.

Every week I meet more and more business-inclined creative entrepreneurs with NO clue about where to start a creative business. This blog post is for you.

You probably already have the idea you need to get started. At least a vague concept of what your products or services will be. You also have an idea of what to charge – if you don’t please take a look at my book about making a living out of your creative business.

This is a post of the nuts and bolts you need to have a legal business that will – hopefully – operate in the positive.

Get a SOLID CPA who understands creative businesses

I waited a long time to get a CPA, and even did my own taxes for a few years because I met a couple of very experienced CPAs who had no idea what my business does or how it operates. When you have to teach your CPA what you do, the whole accounting thing becomes another chore on your list – so it’s better when the person you hire already understands what an Adobe Creative Cloud is or why you have to buy a new computer every three years.

I, personally, love Amy Northard CPA and recommend her to everyone I know in the creative trades. She is responsive, experienced and has a kick-ass Instagram feed to boot. A CPA is also going to be able to give you solid, real-world advice on the best way to incorporate your business. They can look at the whole picture of your finances and make a recommendation based on the best tax status for your individual situation. A great CPA is also going to be able to tell you how to do it yourself so you can save yourself some money on the front end.

Get a great bookkeeper

I can tell you the difference between RGB, CMYK and hex coloring as well as own three versions of Pantone Color Guides. What I can’t do? Balance my checkbook. Or figure out Quickbooks. My clients pay me good money to keep up with the Facebook algorithm and all the changes in GDPR; so I have very little time left to worry about dollars and cents if I also want to enjoy my family and friends.

Like the CPA for Creatives argument, getting someone who understands creative businesses and how they are setup is best. That way you can skip from the educating, straight into getting the service you’re paying for. Business bookkeepers come in all flavors. I recommend you pay for as much of full service as you can afford so you have someone you can ask all the questions you might have and build on that partnership. The ladies at Pinnacle Flow Bookkeeping have been amazing at answering my questions, helping me process the PPP loan earlier this year as well as the EIDL grant.

Find a fantastic lawyer

Yes, someone who understands creative businesses is handy. I found Creatives Learn Law on a whim and Allie’s help on setting up my boilerplate contracts for the most provided services was key. Always have an attorney review your standards, practices and contracts. You want to make sure you’re signing something that’s actually enforceable in court or arbitration and that provides clear, simple instructions on how to work together with your clients.

Once your business is legal, and you have these professionals on your side, you will be able to really focus on your products, your services and your clients and you’ll have the foundation you need for your success!

Good luck!

Astrid M. Storey

Astrid M. Storey

Astrid Storey is originally from Panama and spent most of her early years traveling through Central and South America. She arrived in Denver in 2003. During the next decade-and-a-half, she’s juggled a career in a variety of creative and marketing roles while building her own studio, Storey Creative, with clients in real estate, health care, publishing, and tech.

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