The creative economy: define success to achieve it

In working with creative individuals I have found that it is hard for many of them to define what success means. “I want to be a successful artist working in my studio” seems to be about as far as many of them can go in defining their success.

When you ask other entrepreneurs what success means they will describe their success in terms of being a market leader, capturing market share, developing new and innovative products, their distribution chain, market capitalization and the financial rewards. Thinking in these terms is not so easy for many creative types.

Success for many creatives is simply being able to pursue their passion – not a bad measure of success for any business. In some respects many businesses have to work hard to instill and keep passion thriving with their owners and employees. Passion for one’s work will get you a long way but it is not a guarantee of success.

One of the first steps in developing a business plan for your creative business (or any business for that matter) is to define the enterprise’s Mission Statement. Those who have gone through the business planning process or attended business school know that the Mission Statement is the starting point in defining goals and developing strategies.

The mission statement serves as a guide for the organization’s overall strategic and day to day activities. It defines what the company is or aspires to be, what products or services will be provided, which customer groups are served or targeted, and its values with regard to stakeholders such as owner, shareholders, employees, customers and the community.

If you are having difficulty in preparing your mission statement, don’t despair – it’s not that easy, even for those who have formal business training. By examining the following questions your business path should become much clearer. Be honest in answering the questions and write a few sentences describing your answers. Remember there are no right or wrong answers.

• What are your career goals?
o Are you looking for a full time creative career, an additional source of income or a hobby?

• What are your creative goals?
o What kind of products and services do you want to provide and to who?

• What are your financial goals?
o Do you want a source of income for yourself and family, income to provide for retirement, extra income or is income even important?

• What amount of financial risk are you willing to accept?
o Are you willing to accept high risk and put it all on the line, moderate risk or are you adverse to risk?

• What are your sales goals?
o Have you quantified your sales goals, will you be responsible for sales or rely on others or some combination of the two?

• What are your marketing goals?
o Do you plan on being responsible for marketing, rely on others, some combination?

• What are your brand / reputation goals?
o Are you looking to develop a local, regional or worldwide brand? What is it that you want others to say about you and your company?

• What type of organization are you trying to build?
o Are you looking to be a “one man show” or develop an organization with employees?

• How much effort do you want to put into your business?
o Are you willing to expend little effort or go “all out” in making your business a success?

When you have answered the following questions you are now ready to describe what success in your creative business means to you. If you have other factors that describe what success means to you feel free to include them. You should now be in a better position to put together your mission statement – go for it!

I look forward to having you as a regular reader, and if you have some comments or ideas please drop me a line.

Next time: A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or lions, tiger and bears – Analyzing opportunities and threats facing your business.
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Neil McKenzie is a visiting Professor at the Center for Innovation (MSCD), where he has developed the course “Artrepreneurship.” He currently is a Centennial-based commercial photographer specializing in business and personal brand photography.
Neil has over thirty years of business planning, marketing and marketing research experience as an economist, management consultant and corporate executive. He was also a founding faculty member of the Regis University MBA program. He can be reached at 720-339-3160, or