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How to Run a Successful Creative Business.

Posted by Athena Cauley-Yu on

Welcome to our shiny new blog!

It's been nine years since I opened the doors of Meticulous Ink. For our first post I thought I'd share some things that I've learnt running my letterpress print and fine stationery retail shop.

 

1. Get a Fantastic Accountant.

Having a trustworthy accountant that you can harass with random questions about your numbers will save you much stress and heartache. My business is quite complex as we offer lots of different revenue streams and payment options, as well as retail, wholesale and bespoke.

Previous accountants that I used found it difficult to get their heads around how my business worked, as it's not just a typical bricks and mortar shop. The accountant I currently use took a long time to find and it almost felt like dating when trying to find one that I really liked, that understood my business, and that I felt confident in asking lots of questions. Meeting face to face really helps too.


2. Being an Optimist Will Help You to Keep Going.

Running a business is HARD. Looking at the positives of a challenging situation will keep you on the right track. The challenges don't stop - even after nine years there are new things being thrown at me constantly, but I know that things move in cycles and waves, with peaks and troughs. If you hit a low point remember that a high point is just around the corner. 

One of our Original Heidelberg printing presses

3. Karma is Logical.

If you put out good things, use your manners, are polite and try to respond to people in a positive manner, then it is much more likely that people will respond in kind. If you are an a***hole then bad stuff is gonna happen! A simple and logical way of being.


4. Things Don't Get Easier, You Get Better.

After nine years in the shop it really does feel like the business is still only at the beginning. The challenges are different as the business grows and ages, and things that were hard in the first year I complete much faster now, but these old challenges get replaced by new ones daily. As the years go by I can gather more experience and use that to deal with the new stuff going forward. It's really quite exciting!


5. Try New Things.

There are so many exciting projects and ideas that the Meticulous Ink team and I come up with. It's wonderful to make them happen, to keep the team involved and inspired. This keeps your brain going too, as you don't want to get bored with your business. Create things that you can sink your teeth into and keep you excited about your business.

The delightful retail area of our shop, where you can purchase our paper goods.


6. Turnover is Ego, Profit is Reality.

Make sure your margins are a big as possible and concentrate on the annual profit total rather than the turnover total. It's all well and good turning over a million pounds, but if your profit is only £10,000 then what's the point of all this hard work?!


7. Have a Hobby.

Try to find yourself something to do outside of work that is the opposite of what you do day-to-day. If you sit down in an office all day, then find something physical and outdoors. If you do physical work, then find something calm and still. It's good for your general wellbeing to have opposites in your life, and it also makes you take holidays, which is important!

 A Beginner Copperplate Calligraphy Workshop in full concentration practicing their strokes.


8. Do Things For Yourself First.

Your own view on success may not be the same as you family or friends point of view. Ensure you are doing things because you want to, not to impress other people. It's okay to say no to things that will take you further away from your own goals. If you are doing things that you dislike, then question why. Are you doing things to impress other people? Are you afraid to do projects as you are scared what your friends might think? Everyone is different, and your goals are not the same as everyone else.


9. Be Sure to Love What You Do.

Running a tiny business takes courage, optimism, consistency, and stamina. You will spend 40, 50, 60+ hours of your week working on your business, so you had better make sure you absolutely ADORE what you do. If you love it, then you will work harder for it, which will help make your business a success. It really is true that if you love what you do it won't feel like work. I love my shop, and running my own business has shown me just how much I'm capable of when I love what I'm doing.

Athena at the counter of the shop, perusing some bespoke invitation samples.


My business is still growing and changing, and I am thrilled to come to work every day and work on it more. Much like a child of my own, I want to see the business flourish and prosper as the years go by.


Thanks so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this little insight into how I run Meticulous Ink while keep a sane and happy mind!

Best wishes,
Athena


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4 comments


  • This is a lovely post, not just applicable to a creative business but also to life. I’ve just started down this road with my own small silly company, which started with doing what I loved and going from there. I’m not yet ready to replace my day job, and I would really like to know how you started out at the beginning? Did you dive right in or did it slowly build? Whether you reply or not; love your shop and love your ethos <3

    HB on

  • I’m just listening to you on the Indie Roller podcast and found your website. What beautiful products. This blog post is very helpful as we are just starting a new business. Thanks for the great tips!

    Christy Williams on

  • Fabulous blog, with great tips and inspiration! Thank you – it’s giving me that nudge further towards finding how to do more of what I love.

    Harriet on

  • Lovely article. Bath is very lucky to have shops such as yours. I hope you continue to flourish.

    Meg on

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