I think this is one of the trickiest lessons when coming to business not from an Excel state of mind but from that of Microsoft Paint. When you aren't naturally financially or business minded and have only bought your first Diary at age 28 whats a girl to do?
Balancing creative ambition alongside cash flow and it's chokehold is something I grapple with on the hour, every hour.
Ive approached it in different ways:
- Throwing all my creativity at a project ... and then breaking my own heart as I strip it back to the skinny version. Its like buying a diet chocolate mousse, its never going to match up to the Chocolate sundae with extra sprinkles is it?
- Starting with bones and then adding flair and magic on bit by bit, nervously checking the budget like Im trying to fill up the petrol tank but not spend more than £20.00 exactly. The thing is you can't add magic as an after thought. Its not in the membrane and if it's tacked on the likelihood is that it won't ever be quite right.
So how to create within this challenge?
The truth is Im still figuring it out myself but here's some things I'm learning along the way:
- If you know your numbers, you know your worth. Remember when you were little and could fire off your times tables? Sure the learning stage was frustrating and tough and you made mistakes but eventually these numbers will eek into your subconscious. When they are there you'll have an invisible guiding force that has your back in your decision making but doesn't rule it. You'll understand your worth and value.
- Consider every aspect: Cost is never cost, theres shipping, warehousing, e com photography, lifestyle photography, packaging, sampling, gifting and your time. If its a new product is it going to need testing and whats the financial implication of this? Once you know this, this leads nicely on to the point ...
- Timing. If you are anything like me, you want the world and you want it now. And then when you have it, you want the galaxy. Creative entrepreneurs are always on to the next thing. Attention span's of fleas, by the time the product is created and arrived to sell we are over it. Its easy to get caught up in the lust and excitement of new and innovation, especially when falling in love with the concept. And if you really love it and are obsessed with making it happen then you want to do it right. Take a step back from that heart pounding NOW NOW NOW-ness and ask yourself what it would take to blow minds with the project - not just make people smile. If you've not got the budget right now thats okay, you can slow it down - at this stage this is your secret and no one else knows your plans. Take your time, if its not right for now then plan for it in 6 months, a year. True creativity never dies and just remember how much better it will feel to do it right instead of that'll do.
- In our day to day lives a lot of us talk about how much we'd love some Balenciaga boots or a beach holiday where the club Tropicana drinks might not be free but they are all inclusive but we can't afford it. And yet we buy our Meal Deals for lunch everyday, hop in an uber every time the wind blow. But its just choices. If you really want to pursue that creative project or ambition you have, take a step back and work out where you are bleeding money in your business. How can you save a little here and there? What necessary and what can you cut?
- Remember your consumer is your biggest mentor, not Forbes magazine. The real people using your product are the people you should be getting involved with planning and creating a product. Because if you are making for someone and with purpose and looping the people your brand exists for at an early stage, getting excited together, you mitigate so much risk and you can't go wrong! Its like your Mum asking for your Christmas List, so you don't end up a sky dive when you are actually afraid of heights.
But underneath this all, never lose sight of your purpose, never forgo the poetry to create something empty. Poetry is that invisible connection that makes us feel alive and gives something life. Its the tip of your tongue mystery that we can't define, only feel. And in turn its the only thing that makes others feel it too.