If you're a video creator and you would like to start making a living from your creativity through your own business, there are ways you can transition into becoming a creative entrepreneur in the video business. For many creative types, business operations like forecasting, inventory, and taxes can be highly overwhelming but without both the creative and operational components in place, any business will have a hard time seeing long term success.
In this week's Creator's Tip we talked to Shannon Etnyre from FollowTrueNorth.com. Her company assists creators with understanding the elements needed to run an effective business and in this video she shares some tips that every creative business owner should follow.
Business Tips & Advice for Creative Video Entrepreneurs
There are several things that a creator needs to figure out in order to turn their creativity into something that's profitable for them. Here are just a few Shannon covered:
- Decide what you want to do—In other words, how do you want to put your creativity to work?
- Why do you want to do it—What is it about this activity that makes you want to do it for living? It could be because you enjoy it, because you’re really good at, or some other reason entirely.
- What is your most important driver—This is important, because it’s what you're going to have to remember as you go through this process. There are a lot of up's and down's, and this is what is going to make you want to keep going in spite of them.
- Organize your goals—You need to know your goals and the order in which you plan to achieve them. You can start by putting them in writing. List making is good, but can be impractical when organizing as you will likely need to rearrange your goals many times. A good tip is to use post-it notes to allow you to easily move goals and tasks around as necessary.
- Get Advisors—Surround yourself with mentors and people who are really invested in your idea as well as you and be sure to have regular conversations with these people. Constantly bounce ideas off of other creative people both in and outside of your niche. Also, try to find individuals who are left-brain finance type people to help you with the aspects you are not good at.
- Build a Solid Business Platform--You have to have steps laid out in front of you and develop a business map to reach the goals you initially set. The big picture might be overwhelming which is why it is imperative to break it into small steps and you map it out. Having a plan will increase your likelihood for success.
View The Full Video Transcript:
Hey guys, on this week’s Creator's Tip we're going to talk with Shannon Etnyre about the things that you guys can do, who are creative type people to transition into making a profitable living off of your creativity, that's coming up.
Hey guys! My name is Tim Schmoyer and welcome to another week of Creator's Tip where every week we just help you guys who are making online video content know how to make that stuff stand out the best on the web. And today we have the special privilege and opportunity to talk with Shannon Etnyre from followtruenorth.com, I want us to show you guys a video that kinda summarizes what her company does so you have a little bit of an idea and a background going into this conversation with her, so check this out.
You love to create and you'd love to make a living from your creativity through your own business, but creating something beautiful is a lot different than writing a business plan. Things like forecasting, inventory and taxes are overwhelming. Yet without that stuff, your business falls apart and you've looked for help, but a lot of the resources out there are either all creative with no plan, or they're so business minded that your vision gets lost. So maybe they help, but they probably don't.
So how can creative people build successful businesses? You need help from someone that understands the ins and outs of creative work AND the ins and outs of an effective business. And that is why we're building True North.
True North is a community of people who are both highly creative and business savvy. And we're coming together to help you see your dream become a reality. We wanna work with you to refine your creative vision and turn that vision into a plan that makes sense to you. And after your business plan is written, we're still here to partner with you through every stage of starting and running your business.
Why are we doing this? Because when you're confident that the business stuff is running smoothly, you're free to create your best art, and that excites us. That vision is our passion, our True North, what's yours?
We're gonna talk more about her website more in a second, but first of all Shannon, what are some of the first things that a creator really need to figure out in order to their creativity into something that's profitable for them?
So I think that the most important thing to figure it out is, what do you want to do with your creativity? Why are you pursuing this avenue? What's the most important driver, because that's what you're gonna have to remember as you go through this process because there's a lot of up's and down's.
So organizing your goals and I like to say, you know, when you're first trying to figure out what your goals are, to think big and to also--
--get a big stack of the four by four post-it's and just start writing down your goals on the Post-It's and find a naked wall and through them up on the wall and organize them.
What kind of goals are you talking about here? Are you talking like anything and everything, as big as you can think?
Yeah, like write a book, license your art.
Sell to a major museum.
Is like, make a million dollars, is that a good Post-It Note?
They could do that too, yeah.
Make a million dollars. So then what you can do is outline all the steps you need to do to reach that goal.
Okay, so the first thing is write down some goals, heck because it sounds
like you're saying, like make a vision for where you wanna go. Is that right?
Right, brainstorm by handfuls and then try to organize them into three main topics.
Okay, so you would take everything that's on that wall and kind of categorize it, and then you pick one or the other? Or how does that work?
Yeah, because usually there's about, you know, for me when I started I had like forty or fifty little Post-It's everywhere and you kinda have to organize them. And most of them lean towards, you know, writing the book and I figured out, 'Okay, one of the main goals that I have is to write a book'.
The next goal is to really help people, so I needed to figure out a way to execute that goal. And then the third one was to work for myself. So how do I, you know, combine those three different things and put them together into one plan?
So, I mean that part's probably kinda easy, I think because a lot of creative people are like big picture, they could probably do that real quickly. What's the next thing they need to, like next step or whatever they need to figure out in order to move from being a creator to a business?
I would say, something that's really important is to get some advisors. So surround yourself with mentors and people who are really invested in your idea, and invested in you, and make sure to have regular conversations with those people. Make sure that you're bouncing ideas off of other creative people as well as, you know, advisors who are savvy in business.
Yeah, so is that people who would be like in your same niche? Or doing
what you wanna do who are ahead of you? Or just good friends?
I would say all of those things. My mentors are serial entrepreneurs,
people who are just left-brained finance people, people who are just right-brained creative people, and I bounce, you know, the same ideas off of all those folks and see things that I need to kind of develop or change a little bit to meet what my niche is, so.
Yeah, okay cool. Third thing? Is there something else that they need to do
So the third thing would be too obviously, which is my main business
focus, is to help the creative people build a solid business platform.
You have to have steps laid out in front of you and develop a business map to get to those goals that you initially set out to get to.
It's not very hard, I know it can be overwhelming to a lot of people, but
what you do is you just kind of break it out into teeny tiny little steps, and you map it out. You can even put a timeline to it so if you want to launch your business in say a few months, these are the things you need to do
You do it quick; you are going to be foregoing some of the steps.
So if you take more time to plan there's also likely a higher likelihood that
you'll be more successful.
Yeah. Okay, cool. Yeah I know when I would hear the word business plan
or business model, or something like that, before a couple years ago, I'd be like I have no idea what that even is.
And it just sounds like super intimidating but those are the types of things
that really are essential for really starting to move forward. And, like you said, it's really not that complicated, it's just make a plan for how you're going to make money, you know. How you're going to make money off of this.
It's just a series of questions that you're answering really, that's all it is,
you're answering questions. You already know the answers, it's just organizing all of those answers into, and you know a manageable plan.
One of the core things that I like about your website that you're developing
here for us creative people, who are trying to move towards making a profit from our creativity, is that it really seems to center around community. Why is community so important? You talked about that a little bit I think with the mentors, buy why is community such an important thing for developing a profitable business?
I like to say that even though we're a business planning site, the most
important part of the website and the business itself is the people and it's always all about the people. So the community is the reason for this site. I really want the collaboration, I want people to generate new ideas, create new ideas, partner up on if they want to write a book or if they need an illustrator or a graphic designer. Really encourage people to partner up and work together and also there's the technical term called 'crowd sourcing' where you bounce the ideas off of people and kind of get feedback from your demographic, and a lot of time, creatives' demographic are other creatives.
So it's the perfect environment for that and I think it's really good to have
that support and encouragement for artists.
To really get where you're coming from.
Yeah, that's really important I think, because you and I were kind of
talking before we started recording, sorry guys, that a lot of times creative people, like we're really hard on ourselves sometimes and that was, when you said that to me earlier, I was like 'that's really true'. I think a lot of us we tend to really pour our heart and soul into something.
And, like what other people think is awesome we think is dumb, you
know, we underestimate ourselves and undervalue our work sometimes. And I think having a community of people around you could really help encourage you, support you, help you not undersell yourself.
Not oversell yourself either.
Just kind of keep a level head and a good perspective and keep you
moving in the right direction.
Well yeah, because any creative business essentially, you're putting
yourself out there.
I mean that's what creative does, you're exposing yourself, you're
So you almost always wanna do that, you know, on a more private level before you go all out into the public and show your true colors to everybody, you'll want to get kind of, a little bit of feedback before you take that huge risk.
For those of us who are like YouTube creators, you guys who are here watching us, you know that you can pour yourself into a video, you publish it and you get like hundreds of comments like 'Oh this is awesome', 'Really good job', whatever and then you get that one comment and you're like mmmmm...you know it just kind of ruins the whole, like it blows everything out of proportion, out of perspective. Like I just want to tell that one guy, one person where they can shove it and move on. I wouldn't do that publicly but it really does taint your perspective and everything else and that's all you end up focusing on, you know, rather than all the helpful comments you got, that one like you know.
Well and as creatives you tend to be a little bit more sensitive to the negatives so you have to prepare yourself. But those positive things that you've set forth in your initial goals on this is why I'm doing this, this is, you know there's a purpose here and I’m just going to truck through this.
Yeah, and being a part of a community of other people who understand that, who have been there, they feel that too, can support you, that would be really awesome. Are there any, like, books that you would recommend for people who maybe wanna kinda start moving in this direction that you could say 'Hey read this book, that book' or whatever and that will give you a really solid foundation for turning your creativity into a profit?
I always advise people to follow though leaders. There’s a couple of thought leaders that I follow myself like Seth Gooden and Guy Kawasaki and I’m actually in love right now, with Guy Kawasaki's book The Reality Check.
It has a lot of really good insight, full of ideas, a lot of applications. I mean, I scribbled in the whole thing and highlighted throughout the entire book.
And I'm probably going to read it two or three more times because there's
so much that I want to absorb out of it.
Really, really good book, highly recommend The Reality Check.
And for you guys here watching this, I'll put a link in the description
below this video so you can just click it and go check it out. I haven't read it so I will go check that out myself too. I wanna tell you guys a little bit about this website, the community thing that we've been talking about, it's coming, it's not there yet but it's coming. I follow truenorth.com; it's going to be awesome. I've already like paid, I paid $200 for a lifetime membership when it launches and you guys can too. Now the lifetime thing is going to expire soon right? Like that's only good for the next twenty days or something?
After December 3rd at midnight.
So by the time you guys see this you're only going to have like a couple
days to go check it out. But, yeah, can you tell us a little bit about it? It's going to be like e-books, forum, community?
The most important part and the most, I guess, our mission with launching this website is to take all the stress of the 'I don't knows', and the overwhelm and take that off of people's shoulders, because they will be able to go to this community and get answers. There are going to be discussion forums specifically for business questions that will be manned by business experts who've done it and they've been there and they done that, and they've launched businesses and they've kind of been through the trials and tribulations, so they can tell you from their own experience, this is what I’ve done, this is what I recommend.
There are lots of resources; there will be a huge community on there. We're gonna have the online magazine on there as well. We’ll have lots of really good contributors and partners that will be contributing as well.
So a huge resource.
Yeah, people will be there who can help you develop your mission, your ideas. Organize your goals, develop marketing plans, business models, help you with accounting stuff, ideas, just like everything. It will be an awesome of resource of people, plus thousands of resources that will be there to help, that are related specifically to creative businesses.
I know that you guys are having there. So this is going to be awesome. So guys, go check it out, that link is below too. There also is a free membership available that’ll have access to the community stuff but the business side of the website will only be available to paying members. They can check you out on Twitter at follow True North, is that right?
So guys, go check her out and if they have any questions can they just
tweet your or something? Would that be...
Yeah, they can tweet me, they can follow us on Facebook too at Follow True North as well.
That'll kind of give you an idea or a feel for the direction the website is going and so.
Awesome, cool. Well thanks for hanging out with guys, if you have any ideas or comments or things that you've learned that have really helped you make a profitable living from your creative ideas or things, please comment below. And the rest of you guys who are looking for ideas, go read the comments where other people have left down there. You guys are always super helpful and I learn so much from you guys all the time. Speaking of community, like Shannon, we have an awesome community here at ReelSEO so you guys are awesome, go leave your comments.
If this is your first time hanging out with us, make sure you subscribe, we'd love to have you join us for these videos that we are making for you creative type people every single week here on Thursdays, so subscribe to get those videos coming for free and we will see you guys again next week for another Creators Tip video.