RECAP | B-Side: Creative Business 101

Dozens of freelance designers and local creatives gathered at HQ Raleigh on March 28 for our first B-Side class, Creative Business 101. Woody Holliman and Jeanne Taylor shared tips and words of wisdom from their combined decades of creative entrepreneurial experience. Here’s a recap incased you missed it! Don’t forget to sign up for any of our future courses to learn more.

Market niche:

Pick one skill or product to focus on that separates your business from the rest of the market. This focus will help strengthen your brand and make managing your business a little easier.

Business name:

Your business name should be simple, visual, distinctive, and emotional. It’s important to pick a name that isn’t copyrighted and has an open domain name. Your business name and logo should reflect the personality and desired clientele of your business. Remember, you can change most other things about your business but you want to chose a long-term name.

Registering your business name:

You can own and operate your own business as a Sole Proprietor (ex. Chelsea Brown Design) without much legal action. If your business has a unique name, however, you have to register this assumed name with the county. This assumed name is known as a “Doing Business As” name, or DBA. Check your local county’s website (Wake, Orange, or Durham) for more information. 

You can choose to register your business as a Corp, LLC, Partnership, etc. All business classifications have different tax benefits. Hiring an attorney, CPA, and obtaining business insurance is recommended.

Business structure:

Sole proprietor – Operate under your own name. IRS views individual and business as one entity.

General partnership  – Two people acting as a sole proprietor of a business.

Limited partnership – General partnership + silent investors in the business.

C-Corp – Shareholders not liable for company debts, but income is taxed twice (once for the business, once for the individual’s income)

S-Corp – Avoid double taxation of C-Corp

LLC – Less complicated to set up than a corporation with all the same benefits

Business plan:

A business plan is not required, but can help set goals and plans for the future. It’s also a good document to show investors, bank officers and lawyers when asking them to support your business.

Other tips:

  • Have a stable base client for consistent income
  • Guerilla marketing can be a low cost, effective way to gain clients.
  • Take advantage of an informal market test to pick a business name
  • It can be better to have small than large capital, so you can prove yourself and grow your business.
  • Examine the balance of your love for the art form and making money at the same time. It’s important to make sure you’re charging fairly for the service you’re offering.
  • Have a plan for health insurance and emergency living expenses

Outstanding questions from Monday’s class:

Can a business have more than one DBA?

We are waiting for a return email from the North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State and Wake County Register of Deeds

Do you need business insurance if you work out of a co-share/co-working location?

It depends on your lease or rental agreement, but most likely yes.



See you April 20th for our next B-Side course, Managing Client Relationship: You want it when?! Registration is now open.

By Chelsea Brown
Published April 5, 2016