Nike Young Director Awards — 15 years ago, the first ever project i did for Nike

Put your money where your mouth is

‘Commerciality’, when I was younger I thought this was a dirty word and would bring the defiance in me. But I’ve tempered over the years, and I’ve learned that not only is it necessary, but that there are creatives ways of striking a happy balance with this side of the business — that is to say the business side of this business. Despite the romantic perception of setting up and running your own studio, the reality is full of sacrifices and learning curves. Commerciality goes hand in hand with another taboo, compromise. And while these words both carry heavy feelings amongst creatives, in reality, it is another crucial strategy to employ when starting your own business. Distinguishing between needs and wants in the early stages of entrepreneurship can help you and your studio sustain and grow to achieve those long term goals.

But hey! these situations can come in many different forms. From maintaining personal overheads so low you can work on more creative low paying projects which allow for more creative freedom. To not eating out three times a week, going on multiple holidays, and get your hair done. In other situations, digital tools, and networks (think Behance, Cargo Collective, Tumblr and Wordpress sites) will offer low-cost or free alternatives to traditional marketing and promotion streams. It’s amazing how little you need to get something off the ground, be it a portfolio, presentation or a collaboration of some kind.

Staple meal for fledgling directors

But in many situations, you’ll find it’s not the tools or tech that will be the most beneficial, it’s your team. Ideally, you’ll find someone to compliment your skills and cover your weaknesses. Preferably someone that can also understand and harness your talents to best communicate, sell and promote them. And if someone within your team there is also a proficient level of management and budgeting skills, then you’re probably in good hands.

If this sounds like there are a lot of moving parts to consider, it’s the truth. But the saving grace from starting up a studio on your own is that you will gain so much experience that ultimately you’ll be more employable should it not pan out. Learning from failure can be just as important as success, and when I say failure I mean that there are all sorts of thing that could factor into the failure of a new business; from cash flow; being too niche; bad timing or just bad luck. Regardless the cause, recruiters, employers and potential new business partners should value your first-hand experiences because, at the end of the day, there’s something to learn from every situation.

Anyways, that’s not going to happen, because you’ll learn, develop, evolve and grow to eventually set yourself up as a prosperous and successful creative studio.