Running a Creative Business – The Graphics Fairy

After over three years of blogging, I’m finally taking a week off.  I’ll still have posts going up this week, but I am going as “unplugged” as possible.  I decided to bring in a few of my  business-savvy friends to share some words of wisdom with all of my entrepreneurial readers out there.  I know many of you enjoyed the business series I posted a while ago and add to here and there, so I thought it would be nice to add some stories and advice from other successful creative business owners.

Of course I had to ask Karen, aka The Graphics Fairy to share her knowledge.  She is super savvy, super successful and she’s been mentioned in dozens of crafting/decor magazines and hundreds (maybe thousands) of blogs.  She’s the kind of girl who knows what to do with a good idea!  Karen is also so generous with her knowledge and she’s been such an encouragement to me through the growth of my business.  Her words have been so valuable to me and I know they will be to you as well.

Hi everyone my name is Karen and I blog at The Graphics Fairy. Marian
asked me to guest post here today  and share my business story, while
she’s on a much needed vacation!

For those of you that don’t know me I’ve been an
antique/home furnishings dealer for 20 years and I was at Lucketts Store for
the last 10 years. I’ve also been blogging for about six years. At one time I
also had a bath and body business, and for a while I had a website where
I sold supplies for shabby furniture projects. I’ve sold things just
about every way possible over the years… I sold through mail order via trade
publications, through eBay (I was a power seller), through Etsy, I sold in antique malls and through shows and barn sales. I’ve sold
wholesale to shops too. Phew, it’s making me tired just thinking about it I’ll
all!
I learned a few things along the way I have a
few tips to share with you that I hope will help you out with your own
businesses or for those of you that aspire to be in business for
yourself.
 
 
1) Love what you do! I know it
sounds cliché and you probably heard it plenty of times before, but it
really is so important to love what you do. You need to love it so much
that you would do it whether you got paid for it or not because it might
be well before you make any money at it. And you going to need that
passion to sustain you and keep you motivated. Running a business
requires a huge amount of time but if you love what you’re doing it
won’t feel like work.
 
2) Don’t forget it’s a
business not a hobby.  That means you want to set things up legally as a
business. And you want to treat your business as a business. It’s
tempting to go to auction and buy some gorgeous
pieces and then want to keep the best things for yourself. If you want a
thriving business you need to sell your best pieces. There’s a lot of
competition out there and you’ll want to stand out. Also, keep your business money separate from your personal money, it’s a slippery slope when you start buying personal items with the money in your business checking account. You business funds are for your business, don’t deplete them on that adorable pair of shoes that you saw at the mall! When you business grows, you’ll be able to pay yourself more, then you can get those shoes and it will feel great!!

3) Be prepared to
change as your business grows.  You’ll need to keep changing in order
to keep up. That’s just the nature of business.  When I first started
selling antiques and vintage things, Golden Oak furniture was all the rage,
and if you wanted to sell via mail order you did it through trade
magazines and newspapers. We’ve come a long way since those days! And remember
when MySpace was hot? And just over a year ago most of us hadn’t heard
of Pinterest. See what I mean? Things change rapidly, and you’ll need to
keep up or you business will get left behind!

4) Believe
in yourself. Sometimes the people you think will be the most supportive
aren’t, Friends and family members will often try to talk you out of
going into business for yourself,  but if you think you can… then you
probably can… and that’s what’s most important!

5) Find
your tribe. Find some like-minded people that you can bounce ideas off
of, go to for support, or ask for constructive criticism. Motivational
speaker Jim Ron says “you are the average of the five people you spend
the most time with ” so surround yourself with people that will support
you and keep you motivated.

6) Learn something new. It’s important to keep learning new skills as your
business is growing. Take some classes either online or locally, attend
conferences, and/or read books, or blogs,  that pertain to your niche or area of business.
Whether it’s painting and sewing techniques, or bookkeeping and social
media , there’s lots to choose from, to help you stay competitive.

7) Learn to be passionate about the business side of things. We all get
excited about the creative part,but you need the business part too, to
be successful. Think of it this way, the more successful your business is, the more creative you’ll get to be, as the demand for your wares/services increases!    

8) Be Yourself. Many of us do similar things, and have similar styles and that’s okay, but make sure you are your awesome, but authentic, self! 

I hope you found these few tips helpful! Here are a few of my favorite business resources that I think you might enjoy:
 
 
 


Related posts:

Comments

  1. This came at a time when I really needed it. You are right…some of my friends are very supportive of my creative business but family and some close friends really are discouraging. But when I look at it…they are the ones that would never try to have a business for themselves….ever!

    I gave up my own creative business once because everyone (family) thought I should. I went back into the corporate world which only made me miserable and was very unstable anyway. I lot laid off several times. I don’t want to count on a big company for my happiness and solvency.

    Thanks for writing this post….

    • If there was a “Like” button here for your comment, I would! I was just thinking about this same thing the other day, how little interest my closer family and friends have regarding my handmade business, when I think if the tables were turned how I would support my friends/families creative endeavors! So I’m glad for this virtual handmade community out there where most of us can learn from and support each other!

    • OMG….I thought it was just my parents who were negative! LOL…..strangers have given me more encouragement…isn’t that funny how those that don’t know us can often see what those closest to us cannot see. Good luck to everyone out there doing their own thing and a HUGE thanks to those who have “made it” for sharing.

  2. Pat C. says:

    Excellent post, Karen. I’m bookmarking it in case I ever decide to start my own online business.

    I hope that you’re enjoying your well-deserved time off, Marian.: )

    xoxo

  3. Thanks for this post. I’m just starting out with my business after runs in the corporate world and academia. This was timely advice for me.

  4. Great points, Karen. My friends are supportive of my idea but my immediate family…not so much. I really liked the phrase that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – I am passing that on to my teenager!

    Marian, so glad to see you are on vacation! If anyone has earned it, you have – enjoy!

    Sue

  5. Great and inspiring post, Karen! Marian, hope you’re having a wonderful vacation! x

  6. Enjoy your time off Marian! Thanks for giving us a little insider information Karen.

  7. Very well said and from an incredibly inspirational entrepreneur!

  8. Great advice, and I love the part about finding like minded and supportive people…they are so important to having a successful business!

    Kat

  9. Great tips! It’s no wonder you’re so successful! You are so creative and have a good head on your shoulders. My home is filled with things that I’ve made using your graphics. Yours is definitely my favorite site!

    Thanks for the useful information.
    Pam

  10. Thanks Karen! Very useful information!

  11. Carolina says:

    Thank you Marian for having Karen and her great post!!!! I really needed to read all her tips since I am just starting my blog and business…working on it ! I am on the beginning and it is very hard to put together everything blog, business etc…it is very important to be supported, encouraged and inspired. I wish I had friends like you two here to helping me I would be flying already! “You ” Marian inspired me a lot I am following your blog for more than 1 year now….and see your success and passion for what you do helped me to decide and get the courage to do my jump! One thing I know it is the love and passion for my Art and Creativity and the wish to share the gift that God gave me. Karen I love your beautiful site and just you to know I choose one of your backgrounds to customize my “coming soon website blog” .thank you again to share with us your experience and precious tips.

    Carolina

  12. thank you for both the ….one taking time off…knowing how important family and time is ….and for one taking the time to give us such important info with a sound background…how could Lucketts be so lucky to have both of you….thank your Karen…and if your want to see some of your stuff look at my last post….paper heavy…and Marianne enjoy a breaks….

  13. Enjoy your time off Marion – you deserve it!

    These are great points Karen. The hobby -v- business one really resonates with me. I’ve just started, but I have to keep reminding myself its more than just a hobby I do when I can.

    Build yourself up not down. Dream big!

  14. Very enlightening points that have given me pause to think a little differently. I am glad you shared your knowledge with us, Karen.

  15. I will be following this information more closely. I have not officially started a business, but half my family is very supportive, while the other half and my friends are discouraging. My husband is my biggest fan and is really pushing it. It’s hard to have faith in yourself, and it’s the business end of this that scares me the most.

  16. Oh my! The timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect for me! I have been slowing expanding “my business”…first selling at one antique mall, then adding a second space in another shop in a nearby town…now I am a new retailer for CeCe Caldwell’s Paint. I have a website in its infancy and some big dreams. I have been doing a bit of soul searching lately…wanting to spend more time with “my business” and less time at “work”. It is a challenge to search for balance between passion and security!

    Thank you for posting great info and providing me more food for thought!

  17. Very helpful Karen! I just launched my business this year – I’ve been sewing for people for years but more as a hobby than a business. And besides sewing I am doing furniture makeovers and some photography! I am loving what I do – just need to find the balance for all of it and keep things on a solid ground business wise! You have a lot of great tips and reminders for me in this post!

  18. First of all….Thank you Marion for having Karen guest blog today! Very timely for my business venture. I have a lot to learn and feel like I have many great teachers among you all…ahem…you know who I’m talking about! :) I feel like I’m a stalker sometimes but just want to learn! Would love to bounce ideas off any of you…feel free to find me.
    Again….thanks Karen for your tips and encouragement. I will be saving this post.

  19. Ingrid says:

    Marian I’m glad you are taking a break (though I will miss your posts while you are gone.) You deserve a vacation!!

  20. Thanks Karen for the advice. Have a great week off Marian.

  21. Dear Karen!!!
    I follow your blog but did not know all this stuff about you!!!
    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story and also these great tips!!!!
    I am actually starting my business, ReStory Furnishings.
    With that comes a new blog, a website, etc. Everything legally registered as you mentioned.
    When I started my blog I had no intention of making it a business so the name makes sense to me but ReStory Furnishings Inc. feels more professional and more related to furniture (Condensed Love had to do with my food) as well.
    I have been so busy creating the business itself (writing a business plan, aargghh) that I have not had time to paint and be part of blogland as much as I normally do.
    I am glad I stopped by to see what Marian was up to! Well deserve vacation, Marian!
    Cheers,
    Claudine

  22. Denise T says:

    Great post. You deserve a vacation! Hope to start a blog soon, but I do not think I want to be a big time blogger. Enjoy the circle of the bloggers and be inspired to do what l want. Knowing what I like and dislike.

  23. I adore The Graphics Fairy website but I didn’t know your interesting background! Everything you mention in this article is spot-on! I’m saving this post so I can refer back to it because it’s so well-written.

    I’ve been an antique dealer for 13 years. I began blogging three and a half years ago, and enjoy it so much. Initially the blog was supposed to promote my Etsy shop, but it took on a life of its own pretty quickly. All of these pursuits were part time because I was a full time school psychologist until this fall, when I retired. Now I’m going to live my dream: working full time as an antique dealer/blogger/crafter!

    Thanks again for the timely advice….I’m going to need all the help I can get!

  24. petra says:

    Hi Marian & Karen!
    I hope you are enjoying your MUCH DESERVED week off, Marian.
    Karen, I have been a follower of yours for years and I’m glad you were
    able to share some words of wisdom with us. Jim Rohn is also one
    of my favorite authors, he has an outstanding philosophy on every
    aspect of life. Definitely worth looking into if you haven’t discovered
    him yet.

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  26. Thanks Karen, wonderful tips.
    Debbie :)

  27. Karen,
    Thank you so much for posting this. I am just freshly into a business venture with a good friend of mine and your advice is appreciated. We just opened our doors on Saturday…things are kinda slow…but patience is a virtue.
    If you ever find yourself on the westcoast of canada come check us out ;) http://www.facebook.com/CameoBoutique

  28. This was great, Karen. Thank you. #4 & #5 especially resonated with me….and #7. I admit, I am not so passionate about the business side. Well, the “accounting” side, that is. Loved this post. Will share.

    Jami

  29. I’ve been in business for a long time, in different venues and your post is soo right on the mark! We’ve just started our blog and Karen and Marion you are sooo inspiring. It’s slow starting and you make me and my daughter keep going. Thank You!

  30. The timing for this post and this series could not have come at a better time! Thank you both for sharing your wisdom!!

  31. Yes ladies, you rock! Many thanks to Marian and Karen for being such an inspiration, and for being themselves! Kudos!

  32. What a great series. I broke a cardinal rule of launching a business by not giving much thought to my biusiness name. I literally started this business in an evening while chatting with my husband. I decided in a moment that I would combine my graphic design mind with my love for furniture. It’s been super fun and rewarding and confirms that this idea was brewing in my mind for some time. Reading this post and the previous one encourages me to set concrete goals and move with PURPOSE! Thanks ladies.

  33. Left a comment before but I guess it didn’t take! Whatever Karen Watson says is always worth repeating and if you haven’t already explored The Graphics Fairy for clip art, you are in for a treat. Sarah

  34. Nancy Noonan says:

    Karen: Well said. I’d add to your wisdom…………create a space for yourself. Behave like you have left the house for work at a corporation–no stopping for runny noses, kids’ fights, etc. Be sure there’s a door on your space that can be closed. Hire a babysitter if need be or work at night when there is a babysitter in the form of a husband. YOU ARE THE WIDGET MAKER IN THIS BUSINESS. WITHOUT YOUR DEDICATED EFFORT, THE BUSINESS WILL FAIL
    The other mistake I’ve seen is not pricing correctly because you have not kept track of your project costs–including paying “yourself” for the time needed to complete the project.

  35. Great list Karen! I really like that you mentioned to love what you do. I keep hearing the saying that once you figure out what you love doing to find a way to get paid for it (or something along those lines). After many years of searching I’ve now found something that I’m so passionate about it’s all I think about and want to do. Now I’m working on how I can make it into a career.
    I really like how you said to “find your tribe.” I think when you start living out your passion that you start attracting people in your life that are on the same journey, almost like a creative mastermind group!
    Oh, and thanks for all the lovely graphics!!

  36. Great points…I just spent 12 hours helping a friend display her Christmas items in her tea room, for free…because it is sooo fun. My historic shop building burned to the ground this last week, the day before we moved in, surrounded by my merchandise…all over my house, wondering, “Now, what?” So, it was helpful to go through your list.
    Lezlee

  37. This is a great post, and very timely for me. It looks like I’m not alone in needing this info right now! Thank you. :)

  38. Sure have enjoyed your freebies over the years, Karen!
    I have noticed how people are now using Instagram with their businesses…and it is awesome fun as well.

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  1. [...] of The Graphic Fairy shared her business story and tips earlier this week, and today, I am sharing [...]

  2. [...] Other News: Stop by my friend Marian’s blog at Miss Mustard Seed to see my guest post on running a Creative [...]

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