How to scale up your creative business

By Belva Anakwenze

Are you feeling stretched thin as a creator? Maybe it's time to bring on more help.

Business manager Belva Anakwenze guides you through the three different creator stages and how you can start prioritizing and delegating out some of the tasks on that endless list, so you can start focusing on creating and expanding.

This video is intended as knowledge-sharing, not tax, financial, or legal advice. Always consult with tax/financial/legal professionals to determine what's best for your business.


Belva Anakwenze:
As a creator, I know you have done it all. You've created content, you've negotiated deals, dealt with bookkeeping, managed your social media. But inevitably there will come a time when you can no longer do all the things that your business requires. And I don't care how much coffee you chug. So let's talk about when and how to go about scaling your business.

I'm Belva Anakwenze and I work with creators every day, helping them with financial and business decisions, like when and how to hire additional help.

And remember, y'all, this video is for informational purposes only. Everyone's financial situation is different, so make sure you consult with legal and financial professionals to make sure you've got the full picture for your business.

Think of your business like this balloon. As it grows, at some point resources get stretched too thin. If you are a creative business and you are the creator, you've got to think about scaling your business and yourself. If you just keep trying to grow without bringing on additional help, the whole operation can end up falling apart. The trick is to figure out the right time and the right ways to scale your efforts in order to keep your business on track and growing. I like to think of business scaling in three stages.

The first stage is what I like to call Emerging. As an Emerging creator, you are more than likely handling all tasks on your own. You're chasing your own invoices, you're doing your own social posts, and you are probably overwhelmed. It may be time to bring on additional help. Maybe help you with some things you're not very proficient in or things that really cut into your creative endeavors.

The second stage is what I call Seasoned. Leveling up your business at this stage is about scaling you, making sure you still have time to do what you do best, creating. While making sure your business gets the attention it needs to grow and succeed. As a Seasoned creator, you may be reaching your personal capacity to handle all the necessary tasks to run your business. Whether you're proficient at them or not is not the issue here. Where an Emerging creator can choose to outsource work, a Seasoned creator probably needs the additional help.

The third category is what I call Experienced. In this category, your business is making some serious money and you likely have a team helping the business grow. But you may need to bring on some additional support to better serve your patrons as you identify new business opportunities. This is a good time to really think about how you can maintain and increase your revenue efficiently and to create an even better product for your patrons.

So as your business moves from one stage to the next, how exactly do you delegate tasks so that you can keep making the creative magic happen as your business grows?
Here are my five tips for scaling your business. I've also linked a spreadsheet down in the comments that you can use to follow along with me.

First, make a list of all the tasks associated with your business daily. Nothing is too big or too small. You can also include things that you think you should be doing today, but don't have the time for right now. That could be things like tracking your cash flow, setting up creative collabs, or upping your social media presence.

Now, grade those tasks using a scale of one to four, and do it in three different categories. How much you like doing it, How much impact it has on the business, and how much time and effort it takes you.

Next, clean house. See if you can eliminate or stop doing any task that you rated a one on impact. But especially if you also rated them a three or a four for effort. If it's not moving the needle for your business consider whether it's worth doing it at all. Now that you've got a list of what really needs to be done, start delegating.

Divvy up those remaining tasks into two categories. Stuff that you personally need to do and the tasks that can be delegated to someone else. As you're sorting through the list, consider a couple of questions: what task would you really be bummed about if you weren't able to do anymore? What task do you personally need to do? What things would you feel inauthentic about if they were not in your hands? Is it possible to train someone to do a task your way? Can you use technology, like a software or an app, to take on some of your day-to-day and really time-intensive tasks?

Once you've figured out which tasks you'll do and which ones you'll delegate or automate, you should have a good picture of who and what you'll need to bring on to grow your business.

"The trick is to figure out the right time and the right ways to scale your efforts in order to keep your business on track and growing.”

And that brings us to the last step. Identify how much you can afford to pay to bring on the assistance or tools you need. Remember those stages I mentioned earlier? Those will determine how you approach this.

If you're an Emerging creator, you may not want to spend the money to bring on someone full-time. I suggest you look at a website or an app that will connect you with independent contractors. They may charge you an hourly or a flat rate for the work you need completed.

If you're in the Seasoned category, you can of course use the tactics of an Emerging business, but it may be time to source help from people who are more committed to your business's growth and that you can bring on for a longer term.

In the Established phase of your business, you'll continue to use the tactics we talked about for Emerging and Seasoned creators, but at this level, you may be hiring full-time employees and you should be looking at the big picture, leveraging tech and training to make sure that it's not just your time and effort being used well, but your team's too. Connect your team with resources to help them automate busy work and tools to make their jobs easier.

Getting this right will help everyone focus on what they do best, make the most impact on the business and make sure the work is more enjoyable. I've linked some resources below to help you scale your creative business and to put your newfound perspective into action. As you scope the cost of new tools, contractors, or staff to help you scale, make sure you consult a financial professional about your specific needs. What are your concerns around scaling your business?

Tell us in the comments below. And make sure to like this video and subscribe to this channel for more helpful financial tips and tricks. And as always, go be creative with your business.

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