Running a successful creative business is hard work. Taking good photography, making handmade accessories, opening a creative space, offering good quality classes and workshops, coming up with interesting and inspiring content for your blog. All of these are necessary but not enough. It doesn’t guarantee that you are going to live from these in the long run.

Maybe it was possible a few years ago, before social media and blogging, but not now. The Internet has opened the doors to millions of creative people from all over the world. Everyone can do it with few resources, but this also means that there are millions of people trying to create and grow a creative business. You have to do what is required and a little bit more. You need to find the way to create a better business.

And then there is life. Your “other” job, your family & children, your social commitments … and you end up working a million hours just to be able to keep your small business afloat. Let alone paying yourself an income.

I have been running my business for over 5 years. I see lots of successful creative businesses, but I also see lots of people struggling to find their way, to know what they need to do to move their business to the next stage, to understand that trying to play the latest tactic to master Instagram, or Facebook or Etsy is not the only way to run a successful business.

It all comes down to know where you are at your business and where you want to be, what you need to focus on and what not to do and what to expect on each stage.

Stop comparing yourself to other businesses. Start focusing on building a successful business that works for you.

In this post, I am going to outline the Roadmap to building a successful business, broken down into 5 stages, or 6, but I assume that if you are reading this, it is because you have made the jump and are ready to create a better business.

Would you like to keep this roadmap for future reference or to make your own? Don’t forget to add your details at the bottom of the page and I will send you a beautifully formatted pdf which you can save, print, frame or whatever you like to do with it!. 

#0 – Make the Jump.

This is where we all start or get stuck. This is where we struggle. You may not have started yet, or you may have been running your business for a while and things are not working as expected. 

The most important thing you can do to move from this stage is to make the jump.

But how do I make the jump if I don’t even know what I am going to be making or selling or how to run a business or how to create a website or how to run Facebook ads?

You make the jump by accepting your current situation, planning small actions and moving to the next stage.

Here some examples of the “being stuck” stage:

  • You are creative, you have been doing a few projects at home, you know your friends like what you make and you are considering starting a side business. What could you do next to move to the next stage?
  • You don’t know if your products or your services are good enough or if your customers are going to like them
  • You don’t think you have the skills, you are not confident on what you are making
  • You can’t find customers, you don’t know how or where to promote your products
  • You don’t have time to grow your business, you can’t keep up with your workload, you are working more hours than you used to do in your previous well-paid job

#1 – Set goals and get clarity on what it is you want to achieve in the time you have.

This is the stage where you decide what you want to achieve.

What to focus on:

  • Create a plan: be specific, set achievable goals, be clear about what you need to do and focus on the things you can do in the next 30, 60 and 90 days.  I am a big fan of 12 weeks timescales!
  • Make a list of all the things and to-do’s going through your head, classify them as follows: skills & resources required, ideas for products or services, reaching customers, marketing, website & social media, finance, running your business. Work out what you can achieve with the time & resources you have.
  • Create a vision board for your business and your life.

What not to focus on: 

  • Making and creating lots of products or buying materials.
  • Building a website, posting on Facebook.
  • Working on your Etsy shop listings, SEO or photography.
  • Posting “things” on Instagram.
  • Pinterest.
  • Your competition.

What to expect: 

Overwhelm but at the same time you are excited because you now have a plan that will help you start a new business. If you have come back to this stage after running your small business for a while, you may feel like you are wasting your time because you are not making & selling or looking after your Etsy shop.

When to move to the next stage: 

Once you have a plan and a clear idea of what you want your business to be and what you need to do next. Inside the TCR Collective, we review this stage every month. Super. Important.

#2 – Define or refine your business foundation so it aligns with who you are.

This is a stage to define (or refine) your business foundation: Your Products, Your Customers & Your Value Proposition.

What to focus on: 

  • How to create remarkable products and what benefits you need to add, what could you improve?
  • Research your ideal customer.
  • Craft your story, why you do what you do.
  • Define you value proposition, who you are, what you make, what benefits it provides and how you are going to help your customers.
  • Test your products, ask people for feedback in Facebook Groups.
  • Create a simple website portfolio or set up an Etsy shop, attending market fairs.
  • Social Media, create your Facebook page and an Instagram account, start sharing your story and your creations.

What not to focus on: 

  • Making hundreds of products without proving that they can sell.
  • Posting endlessly on Facebook groups hoping that someone will buy.
  • Blogging (note, if you are already running a blog and it is successful, by all means, continue with your blog!)
  • Boosting posts on Facebook to get more likes or sell more products.

What to expect: 

  • You feel ready but in a bit of desperation .. I know you want to sell, sell, sell …you are probably feeling a bit frustrated as people are not buying from you, but just remember .. they don’t know about you yet!

When to move to the next stage:

  • When you have proven that people (not just your friends & family) like and will buy your products or your services.

#3 – Be inspired, develop new skills and gain confidence on what you are making.

This is the best part, as we get to dedicate the time to being creative!

What to focus on:

  • Learn new creative skills, practice & improve your products and services.
  • If you need to learn how to use social media, or how to create a website or how Etsy SEO works, this is the best time to do it.
  • Research the competition (research, do not copy!), find out why they are being successful, what they do differently, check out their prices.
  • Improve your photography and your posts.

What not to focus on: 

  • Buying lots of different courses without a clear plan .. do I really need this at the moment? 
  • Jumping to the latest trend .. make sure you master your main skills first.

What to expect: 

  • Feeling inspired .. you are now working on your creative projects, trying different things and your products are looking beautiful!

When to move to the next stage:

  • When you are confident in your skills, what materials you need, the quality of your finished products and what other skills you need to run your business.

#4 – Plan your marketing so it allows your business to grow without adding more stress.

Marketing is the hardest and most tedious part of running a business, this is why sometimes we get to ignore it or we throw everything at it, without a plan or knowing where we are going.

The good news is that marketing is not that difficult once you know a few basics.  

Marketing is not a system. We usually link it to big brands and how they sell things to us. But in reality, Marketing is linked to human behaviour, to how people react to internal and external factors.

Marketing is the reason why people buy handmade items for over £100, an upcycled chair for over £1000 or attend a one-day creative course for £1500.

What to focus on: 

  • Define your brand, create your own website, so it represents who you really are and what you make. 
  • Grow a mailing list and send newsletters to let your customers know about your next products & events.
  • Perfect your Etsy shop (attributes, SEO, images, web shop) and market fairs displays. 
  • Sell your products in Local shops
  • Ask medium size bloggers to review your products on their blog.
  • Create a Marketing plan, Post on Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, others)
  • Write consistently on your blog (if you have one)

What not to focus on: 

  • Growing your collection of products and services, work on what you currently have.
  • Hiring employees, if you need some help find contractors with specific skills and only for the time you need them.
  • Setting up a shop or taking on a commercial lease.

What to expect: 

  • Excitement .. you are getting orders, people like your products, you are getting excellent customer reviews.

When to move to the next stage:

  • When you are getting busy with orders and you are able to pay yourself a salary proportional to the time you spend on your business (this includes ALL the time you spend on your business, not just the time you spend making!).

#5 – Run, scale and manage a business that works for you.

This is when things get real! You are now running a business and you need to know how to manage it too.

What to focus on: 

  • Understand your numbers: Sales, Fixed Costs, Variable Costs, Profit & Salaries.
  • Pricing for Profit.
  • Research the option of selling wholesale to larger retailers.
  • Ask influencers for reviews on their blogs.
  • Run Facebook Ads to grow your mailing list.
  • Get featured in magazines (PR).
  • Get some help to do those things that you don’t feel very good at or don’t like doing!.
  • Continue working on your website, Etsy shop & Social Media.

What not to focus on

You need to be on top of your business, but these are some of the tasks you could delegate:

  • Packaging & posting.
  • Organising your workspace.
  • Making some parts of your products.
  • Admin, bookkeeping & Accounting.
  • Updating your listings, SEO & Images.
  • Automating Social Media.
  • Revamping your website and marketing materials.

What to expect: 

Accomplishment .. you are now running your business!


What stage of your business are you in and what is your next step?

Comment below or pop over to the free Teach Craft Revolution Facebook Group and let us know! Click here to join!



Want to keep this guide for future reference?

Enter your details so we can send you the Roadmap to building a creative business. (Don't forget to check your email to confirm your details)

Powered by ConvertKit
Facebooktwitterpinterestby feather


  • Trixie Bradley

    2nd April 2017

    5 steps – 5 easy steps – 5 easy steps broken down into manageable bit size pieces that actually make sense!
    A great useful read!
    A great useful action plan!
    Thank you!
    Certainly will be having this in a file for a good while to refer to even though we’ve been in business for a while, it is good to keep a fresh and open mind…

    • igoodhew

      3rd April 2017

      Hi Trizie, I am sooo glad you like the roadmap and you find it useful. It def helps you focus on the right things!

  • Jerry T Boweh

    28th April 2017

    Thank you for such a detail guide to the Business road Map. I am embarking on a Re-Up cycling business called, REUP Total. Re Cycle, up cycle and rehabilitate and promote wellbeing through green space exercises and activities. It is the later that incorporate the word TOTAL meaning not just materials and product but also a service that goes seeking for Social income development services.

    As you mentioned my inspiration come from working with youth and communities for over 15 years, both nationally and internationally. developing countries seen poverty, bad health and needs for education both formally and informally. In the west I have seen massive waste of materials, products and also waste of national parks and green space not used properly or not used at all. The company is set up to recycle, up cycle and sell the products locally nationally and Internationally through exportation.

    We hope to provide community training and motivating services to encourage usage of the space as well as keeping physically fit and active.

    Any document, company, people or ideas that you feel is worth exploring or considering will be great.

    Thanks for your support,


    Jerry T Boweh