What the heck is this “B-side” business?

AIGA Raleigh has been hard at work developing the B-side- a program all about the business side of your creative business. One of the driving forces behind this programing has been Mayshanna Pandora Briscoe. She deserves a round of applause for all the hard work that has gone into this programming so far.

We are SO EXCITED to share with you the B-side and the following Q&A’s with Mayshanna about this amazing program: 

What the heck is this “B-side” business? What’s the B-side all about?
It is a program AIGA Raleigh designed to help creatives become more confident, successful, and knowledgeable as entrepreneurs. Most of us have got the creative side down, but struggle with the business side! The B-side is designed to demystify the business side of creativity biz.

Presentations and classes will be given by local industry leaders and will include topics such as creating a business entity; handling finances, accounting, and taxes; writing estimates, contracts, and creative briefs; project management; client relationships; and self-promotion/marketing. 

How did you come to name the program “the B-side”?
Oh my goodness, I cannot remember! While designing the format of the program, we tossed around names like Da Bizness, Creative Business, Take Flight, Foundation, and Hatch, but nothing seemed right. Then I remember someone saying “the B-side- the flip side of a creative entrepreneurs business, you know like the b-side of an album” and that was the start of something beautiful. (wink, wink)

What is the story behind the B-side? How did it start and how did it evolve into the program it is now?
The story is simple, most of us (creatives) can make a design, photo, or craft, but when it comes to pricing, billing and marketing our work, we can be at a loss. It could be for many reasons, but it should not be that we cannot find the information. Many of us know what we need to do in order to be successful, we just do not know how/where to start.

During the early stages, we knew we wanted to focus on the non-creative side of the creative entrepreneur’s business; the side that helps make the entrepreneur become monetarily successful. We asked our creative friends, AIGA members, board members, and ourselves “what did you wish you knew or what do you want to know more about of as a creative entrepreneur?” We were surprised by the responses, the topics were exciting, intensive, and thought provoking. We were given topics we never thought would be important like office space, taxes for digital designs, healthcare and 401K. We knew we had a lot to cover. We also knew some creative entrepreneurs would be on different levels. Some would be in a the beginning phase, some would be in the middle phases, and some freelancers would just want knowledge.

That is why we created the a package pricing vs an  a’ la carte pricing. The package pricing is designed for the person who is just starting out and needs all the facts, or the person who has been freelancing for a while and wants to make that next leap. The a’ la carte pricing is designed for the person who has been in business for a while, but needs a more focused conversation on specific topics.

Here is the pricing of the different packages:

Why did you feel like the B-side was necessary programming for the creative community?
I feel it is important because every creative should know their worth, be able to explain that to a client, and should be comfortable to be their own boss.

What can someone hope to get out of taking the B-side programming?
A person should get a clear understanding of what it takes to be a creative entrepreneur, and they will have the support of other creative entrepreneurs who understand pain and the passion of running their own business.

What types of people should be interested in what the B-side has to offer?
Any person who has a passion to become a creative entrepreneur. If you have ever dreamed of making a living doing what you love but don’t know where to start. Or have you already made the leap but want to learn how to do it even better.  We know what it’s like to start your own creative business and we’re going to teach you how to do it successfully. This course is built by creatives for creatives and will teach you everything you need to know about owning your own creative business in a fun and energetic way.

What does the schedule like?

Creative Business 101: Getting Started
March 28th // 6:00–8:00 p.m. // HQ Raleigh
Keynote Speakers: Jeanne Taylor, Marketing Director at ShopBot & Woody Holliman, Associate Professor at Meredith College

In our first B-Side session, Creative Business 101, you will discover what it takes to launch your own creative enterprise. Whether your goal is simply to quit your day job and become a full-time freelancer, turn a craft-based hobby into a lucrative livelihood, or become the owner and creative director of a full-fledged design agency, this workshop will teach you the fundamentals you need to know about choosing a business name, defining your market niche, writing a business plan, raising startup cash, deciding what type of business structure to adopt (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, or LLC), registering your business name with the state, and obtaining a local business license. You will also learn some pros and cons of different office/work environments, such as a home office, co-working space, or commercial studio.

Managing Client Relationships : You Want it When?!
April 20th// 6:00–8:00 p.m. // HQ Raleigh
Keynote Speaker: Clay Schossow, Director of Client Relations and Business Development at New Media Campaigns

In our second B-Side session, Managing Client Relationships, we will study the art and science of building positive relationships with our clients. Many creative professionals can’t resist the temptation to trade horror stories about their “clients from hell,” but if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we’ll have to admit there’s some truth to designer Adrian Shaughnessy’s claim that “there are no bad clients, only clients turned into bad clients by bad designers.” As Shaughnessy explained in How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul, “if we want ethical clients, we have to be ethical designers; if we want visionary clients, we have to be visionary designers; and if we want good clients, we have to be ultra-good designers.”

Our speaker, Clay Schossow, will use his years of experience in client relationship-building to address critical topics such as: how to distinguish a good client from a bad one (especially, what red flags to watch out for), starting the relationship on a positive footing, keeping lines of communication open (before, during & after a project), pitching your work effectively, upselling other services or working on retainer, and most important: knowing when to fire a client.

The Money Game: Finances, Accounting & Taxes
May 18th // 6:00–8:00 p.m. // HQ Raleigh
Keynote Speaker: Jessica Jones, CPA

Graphic designers and other creative professionals are often self-employed, but typically receive less business training than other entrepreneurs (if they receive any at all). It may be tempting to regard the business side of our profession as a necessary evil, and a distraction from our true artistic calling, but Jessica Jones is eager to explain why the creative professional who is confident in the administration of their business tasks will actually have more time and energy to focus on their creative work.In this compact, two-hour seminar, CPA Jessica Jones will cover the basics of financial literacy for designers and other creative professionals, introducing some recommended techniques for achieving financial goals and providing resources for working towards a more organized creative business.

Topics will include:
• The Importance of Administrative Time (putting in the effort to prepare for success)
• Setting Mindful Goals: what do you really want to accomplish?
• Creating a Reasonable Budget (that you can actually stick to)
• Keeping Accurate and Useful Records
• Taxes for the Self-Employed (how to avoid surprises and stress in April)
• Hourly vs. Project Billing
• Invoicing & Collections
• Hiring Independent Contractors vs. Employees

Taking Care of Business: Procedures, Paperwork & Project Management
June 15th // 6:00–8:00 p.m. // HQ Raleigh
Keynote Speaker: Karl Sakas, Business Consultant & Coach for Digital Marketing Agencies

In our fourth B-Side session, Taking Care of Business, you will discover what business procedures, paperwork, and project management skills are required to make your creative business successful. Topics will include: The Importance of Putting Things in Writing, Client Questionnaires, On-boarding Procedures, Price Estimates, Contracts, Terms & Conditions, Change Orders, and Creative Briefs.As creative professionals, we tend to assume we will succeed or fail based on our artistic merits. But as Shel Perkins explains in Talent is Not Enough: Business Secrets for Designers, without an understanding and appreciation for business procedures and protocols, we’re unlikely to find the success we deserve.

Our speaker, Karl Sakas, will help us make the best of our artistic talents by providing an overview of best practices in project scheduling and project management, including a review of current project management software. Prior to his work as a business consultant, Karl worked in the industry as a web project manager and operations manager at several interactive marketing agencies—so he really knows his stuff!

Self-Promotion: Marketing your Business & Finding New Clients/Customers
July 20th // 6:00–8:00 p.m. // HQ Raleigh
Keynote Speaker: AJ McDonald

In our fifth B-Side session, Self-Promotion, you will learn a variety of strategies and tactics to market your creative talents and land new clients or customers. Topics will include: defining your brand; identifying your target audience; refining your pitch; acting & dressing the part; soliciting referrals, advertising, PR, and guerrilla marketing.

Our speaker, AJ McDonald will also discuss online marketing strategies (including search engine optimization, email campaigns, and social media).

The Panel Discussion
As a capstone to this series we will invite our speakers plus some local creative entrepreneur to discuss the good, the bad and not so pretty about being your own boss.

How do I sign-up for classes?
Registering goes live March 5th at 8am, links will be posted to this blog post and on AIGA social media
To sign up for classes

Input? Feedback? Want to get involved? We are designing this program with local creatives in mind. We would love to hear from you!


About the Author:

Mayshanna Pandora Briscoe is a Freelance Graphic Designer, Mixed Media Artist and Aspiring Blogger. She has a B.A. in International Business and A.A.S. in Advertising and Graphic Design with a Certificate in Web Technology.  When she is not in her studio she can be found experimenting with a new recipe, posting pictures of her design life or food on Instagram, or making memories with her fan club (aka her friends, family and dogs).

Follow her:

Website: www.mpandoradesigns.com

Facebook: Mayshanna Pandora Art and Design

Instagram: http://instagram.com/mpandoraart/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mpandoradesigns

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