The Importance of Being Different

Being different makes all the difference.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels


In both art and business, the importance of being different cannot be overlooked. In artrepreneurship, we call what makes our creative business unique, our differentiator. Understanding what your differentiator is affects how you market yourself, how you run your art-based business, and ultimately, the success you’ll find within your market. There are a few ways you can differentiate your creative business:

Differentiation in your product or service

This kind of differentiator is focused on the actual product or service you’re offering. In this case, your offering is so different that no other company is providing what you provide. Customers can’t get what you’re selling anywhere else. This means that if customers want what you’re offering, they must come to YOU.

For example: The Game Crafter is a super popular creative business that allows people to design and print their own high-quality board games. When the company entered the market, they had no real competitors. Now their trade-secret software and process allows them to maintain their competitive advantage by making it tough for other companies to duplicate their service offering.

Differentiation in the way you deliver your product or service

Maybe you provide a fairly common product or service, but the way you deliver your value is totally unique. This can become an important differentiator for your creative business. Delivery can include how customers order, receive, or even use your product.

For example: Before Netflix become the streaming giant that it is today, it was mailing DVDs to customers. The movies they sent were not unique, but the way those movies were delivered to customers was. People loved being able to order online and pick up their DVDs at their mailbox. During this time, Netflix found a way to differentiate themselves through their delivery.

Differentiation in your brand

Finding a differentiator within your brand is all about sharing your value in a way that stands out from your competitors. You might find that in your market, many business sell their products in the same way. Brainstorm ways to brand your creative business in a way that’s unique, eye-catching, and relatable to your target customers.

For example: Betsey Johnson is a fashion designer and fashion brand that has been wildly successful in the fashion world. Betsey Johnson sells clothing and accessories like many of it’s competitors. But Betsey Johnson has a very unique brand that is known for its bright patterns, whimsical joy, and female empowerment. In the world of high-fashion, Betsey Johnson was able to stand out by being different.

How do you know if something is truly a differentiator?

Competitor analysis, aka research! You must know what’s happening around the market to understand if what you’re offering is unique or not. Start with Google. Find out who your competitors are and what they’re offering. Do not offer the same thing as those who are successful. Offer something different, or offer it in a different way.

Remember: You must be honest with yourself.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when looking at your own differentiation is honesty. It’s really easy to think that we’re providing something super unique because of a small detail that might not really matter much to customers. Try to view your creative business from an outside perspective so that you can truly understand whether or not you have achieved the differentiation you’re looking for.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When thinking about differentiation, it’s important to consider how duplicatable your differentiation is. When another artrepreneur sees your creative business, how easy will it be for them to copy your strategy? The goal in any creative business is to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. A competitive advantage is only sustainable if it’s hard or near impossible for others to mimic.

Thinking about differentiation can be a long-term process. One of my favorite quotes reads: “Direction is more important than speed.” If you can build a creative business that has differentiation in one or all of these categories, you will be one (huge) step closer to becoming a successful artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet so that you can stay up-to-date with the latest information about how to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

Growth company vs. Lifestyle company: Which is right for your art-based business?

Understanding the differences between a growth company and a lifestyle company is critical in building your art-based business, so let’s dive deeper into what each is and which is right for you.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

So you want to start a creative business in order to start making money by doing what you love. You want to become an artrepreneur! But what kind of company do you want to create? The topic of growth and lifestyle companies has been critical in this blog, so let’s dive deeper into what each is and which is right for you.

Growth companies vs. Lifestyle companies?

Think: Disney vs. Your favorite local business

Think about how a company like Disney differs from a locally-based, small company. Their target market is bigger, operations are geographically spread, and costs to run the company are huge. The more people who watch their movies and go to their theme parks, the more money they make. However, a common misperception about these types of growth companies is that they are always super profitable, which isn’t the case. As a smaller company, your favorite local business has less costs to cover and more direct access to the local market. Which one is more profitable depends on how much revenue each business brings in, in comparison to the amount of money they spend.

For example: A growth company might make $100 million dollars in 2019, but perhaps they spent $150 million in the same year. This growth company is not profitable. On the other hand, a lifestyle company might make $500k dollars in 2019, and only spend $50k in the same year. This lifestyle company is wildly profitable.

In deciding if you should pursue a growth company or a lifestyle company, scalability is the most important consideration. Scalability refers to how big and widespread your company can potentially grow. If you’re a painter who provides super-large, high end murals to wealthy customers, you might only have 10 clients a year. And since you are your product, meaning that its your skillful art that is being paid for, you can’t hire just anyone to complete the client’s request. Your goal here isn’t scalability, its to make more money with every client as time progresses. Maybe you start with charging $10k for a mural, then $20k, then 40k, and so on until one day you are making $500k per mural. That’s the ideal kind of growth for a lifestyle company.

A growth company, on the other hand, often includes a product of some sort that can be duplicated and reproduced as many times as the number of customers wanting it. Think about Disney again. The more times people watch one of their movies, the more money they make. Or think about authors. The more copies that are sold of one book, the more money they and their partners make. These are examples of businesses that become ultra-successful based on scalability.

For example: If you’re starting a comic book company, your growth is going to come from numbers: how many copies or subscriptions can you sell? Unless you create custom comic books as gifts for hundreds of dollars… In that case, you want to scale up your paycheck, like the muralist we just discussed–you want to pursue a lifestyle company. Not surprisingly, this creative business is meant to support you, and your lifestyle.

NOTE: It’s important to understand that lifestyle companies can become growth companies in the future. In fact, you should always be thinking about opportunities to create a scalable aspect of your business. By doing this, your business can make money that’s not directly related to your amount of working hours. Now, your company can work even while you don’t, and can potentially transform into growth company.

For example: Imagine if, in addition to high-end custom murals, the muralist decided to create mural duplicates that could be applied to walls via adhesive by the customers themselves. The muralist could create 5 designs and then try to sell as many as possible via an online store or offline retailer. The more duplicates the muralist sells, the more money they make. This would be an interesting way to add scalability to their creative business.

So why is this so important? Because it’s going to set your expectations and help you understand how to create the appropriate business model for your future creative business.

Start thinking about lifestyle and growth companies, and try to decide which would be best for you and your artrepreneurial vision!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!