You may or may not be surprised that one of the hurdles creative entrepreneurs face is identifying exactly WHAT they want to do. Narrowing their focus is difficult because they see opportunity everywhere and an ability to apply their creativity in a number of ways. I’ll dive into more detail, but first, I want to provide my definition of what a creative entrepreneur is and how creativity is applied in this space.
Within the Business Academy for Creative Entrepreneurs, a creative entrepreneur is defined as someone who uses their creative talents, skills and intellect to build a business and make a living. Creative entrepreneurs are not limited to artists or designers, but actually encompass a number of different industries and roles because I believe creativity is limitless and knows no bounds. Creative entrepreneurs have figured out how to leverage their creative abilities and apply a business model that supports their passion to sell products or services that showcase their creativity.
You might now be saying, “But what does creativity actually mean? And how does it relate to me?”
Creativity isn’t exclusive to artistic people. It’s more than being able to paint, sculpt, or compose music. Being creative means following your passion, whatever it may be, and feeling aligned or in the flow while doing it. It means trusting your talent, whatever it may be. It’s empowering your ideas and building them out for the rest of the world to consume. It’s bringing your authentic self to your work and letting it shine through your creations, whether it is a product or service.
I’ve often heard creative entrepreneurs referred to as Artists, Makers, Movers & Shakers. I love these category descriptions because they effectively show how much opportunity exists in the creative entrepreneurial space.
- Artists sell services based on their passions, like photography, filmmakers, illustrators, decorators, stylists and writers.
- Makers create physical products based on what they love to do; think florists, chefs, fashion designers, furniture makers, painters and sculptors.
- Movers do just that and incorporate their physical selves into their business model. Examples of movers include actors, musicians, dancers, speakers, and fitness instructors.
- Shakers are thought leaders who share their message and shake things up like coaches, bloggers, creative consultants, and strategists.
These examples are just a few that illustrate the depth and breadth of what being a creative entrepreneur is all about.
After soaking it in a little, do you see yourself as a creative entrepreneur? And if you are a creative entrepreneur, what product or service do you specifically provide? For some, this is a difficult question to answer. I know it was for me at first! To aid with the thinking around it, I’ve provided two different industry examples below: photography and coaching.
- Do you understand the importance of lighting, texture, placement, layers, expression, and artistry?
- Have you acquired technical knowledge related to time-lapse photography, black-and-white imagery, motion blur and long exposure?
- Do you know how to leverage different camera settings like aperture, shutter speed and focus?
If you’re a professional photographer, you likely answered yes, yes, and yes. These are common skills for photographers and yet, when you look for photographers, you’ll find a multitude of different types. Wedding photographers, wildlife photographers, product photographers, aerial photographers, and underwater photographers just to name a few. Each of these photographers has access to the same industry skills and technical knowledge. They have access to the same tools and equipment. So, why are they different? Because they’ve made a conscious decision to focus their business on a specific niche rather than encompass it all. They’ve found a market that allows them to express their creativity in the way that they want.
And within their chosen niche market, it’s likely that they offer something that makes them unique and sets them apart from their competitors. Maybe they create interest in their shots by light manipulation, or maybe it’s artistic expression through focus and placement. Whatever it is, they’ve chosen a niche market to focus on and offer something that fills a gap and meets a need of their consumer.
What they do might not be for everyone, but it is for someone and that’s what matters. This ‘someone’ drives their messaging and establishes them as the go-to for that target audience. It’s important to note that they aren’t excluding anyone by focusing on a specific group because the reality is that anyone can find them. The target audience shapes their marketing, promotion, and the design of their offer, but it’s not unheard of to attract people outside of their ideal audience based on the appeal of their products or services, and their ability to relate with potential clients.
Certified coaches are trained to coach regardless of the industry or audience they serve. Life coaches, career coaches, leadership coaches, health coaches, business coaches and more are all trained on how to apply coaching methodologies, leverage coaching skills and tools, and engage in effective coaching conversations to help their clients move forward. Their training may differ slightly between certifying bodies, but the core of their coach-specific knowledge and expertise is similar. And, after completing the necessary coaching certification requirements and passing the related industry exams, they are all certified and qualified to coach individuals on any number of topics.
So why are there so many different kinds of coaches out there? It’s because of the niche they’ve intentionally chosen for their business. Sure, they can coach anyone, and in fact, some coaches do offer a more generalist approach to their coaching practice and have great success with that. However, many choose to focus on a niche market in order to serve a specific group and tailor their offering to meet a certain need. They have clear statements on who they help and what they help them with, and they focus their energy on being a top resource for that specific target audience.
The importance of niching down in the coaching industry is an ongoing debate and one that I think translates well into the creative entrepreneurial space.
- Is it necessary to niche down?
- If I can coach anyone, am I limiting my impact by niching down?
- What are the advantages?
- What are the disadvantages?
Similar to the photography example, and in my opinion as a coach, I believe finding your niche market lets you speak with clarity to a specific audience in a way that a generalist does not. It’s extremely difficult to craft a message that resonates with everyone. But I believe that when you pinpoint issues and provide solutions for a target audience, that’s when you’ve found your people and built something of value that others will want to purchase.
HOW DO I FIND MY CREATIVE NICHE?
I used to use a more generalist approach to my coaching practice, and it was working. However, I came to realize that I have valuable expertise and experience relevant to creative entrepreneurs and that helping them get after their desire to build a business is something I am extremely passionate about. And that, right there, is the key to finding the focus or niche for your own creative venture.
- What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing? What makes you lose track of time?
- What makes you unique? What experiences and expertise do you have? How are you different from others that have similar experiences or expertise?
- What skills and abilities do you have to offer? Where is the gap in the market related to your creative skills?
- What do you wish was available for you to purchase? What product or service have you looked for and not been able to find?
- What can you talk about for hours unscripted? What excites you and lights you up?
The answers to these questions are extremely helpful when figuring out where to focus your business venture. Whether you are a chef, a photographer, a dancer or a coach, find a niche that resonates with you and build an offer tailored to meet a need within that niche market.
Niching your business opens an opportunity to have a conversation with your target audience. It doesn’t mean you can’t serve others with the products and services you provide because it doesn’t exclude people outside your niche circle. Rather, it focuses your message and creates ease in your marketing because it’s designed with a key target in mind and is focused on providing a specific solution to a specific audience. It creates clarity in your messaging and the intent behind your offer. It also brings simplicity to your behind-the-scenes efforts because you are creating something that suits the particular niche market you’ve chosen, and speaks directly to that market. Blasting a generic, and potentially diluted message, that hopefully reaches whoever might be listening becomes a thing of the past.
As a creative entrepreneur myself, I found that niching down allows me to really dig into becoming the go-to coach for creative entrepreneurs and build credibility in the coaching space for this specific market. Sure, I can coach anyone, and in fact, I do have clients who are not creative entrepreneurs. The interesting thing here is that these clients found me via marketing for the Business Academy for Creative Entrepreneurs. Even though I wasn’t directly speaking to them, something I said *still* spoke to them. I wasn’t ignoring or excluding them by speaking to creative entrepreneurs. Creative entrepreneurs are my niche, yes, but coaching is my business.
So…what’s the answer to the million-dollar question?
You aren’t limiting yourself, your impact, or your business reach by choosing a target audience. But you may be limiting it by trying to be everything to everyone.
By choosing a niche, you are carving out an area in the market where you want to thrive. You are intentionally building a space that lets you shine authentically. You’re letting yourself be true to your skills, your abilities, your training, your expertise, your experience, and your drive. Trying to build something for everyone is exhausting. Trying to build something for yourself is exhilarating. And odds are if you need it, others need it too.