David L. Colby, Esq., Managing Director of Colby Law Office, PC
When creative people start a business, interesting things happen. Cool things, Inspired things, game changing things. But sadly, also tragic, bad things. The users of this world prey on creative people far too often.
As an attorney who helps creative entrepreneurs, I will be the first one to say that creative people and business frequently are at odds. It is sometimes complicated for creative entrepreneurs to maintain control of their own companies. Indeed there are special challenges and disconnects that are almost directly proportionate to the level of originality and creativity in the entrepreneur.
I remind my clients of what Andy Warhol said: “being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.” With that clever mindset, a creative entrepreneur can maintain their creative integrity and still have a head for business. Moreover, you can learn to harness creativity to structure deals, work out complex business relationships, and offer up creative solutions during negotiations.
No doubt creativity really what its all about. After all, what is a business without creativity? Its not difficult to find examples: uninspired copy-cats, knock-off agents, struggling plagiarists, copy-cats, soulless hacks pushing their way into the market with profit as its primary motive; design a secondary concern at best. A noteworthy hallmark of these types is that in the long run, they are limited in their potential. They lack authenticity… an original core… a deep well to keep going back to for inspiration.
The opposite of this is a business founded and controlled by the original creative person or team. The designer, the artist, being at the center is actually the engine, the heart of the beast, to what truly matters in the long run.
But as important as creativity and originality is, we cannot escape the fact that business is business. To level the playing field, it is imperative to have a plan and a relationship with the right kind of lawyer. If you are looking to start or grow a fashion-based business—whether as a designer or in some other related way– it is of the highest importance to organize your business and protect your interests to succeed.
In short, creative entrepreneurs require special care. And they deserve to get it. It isn’t just looking out for their interests, a lot of time it is just actually listening to them, encouraging them, and reminding them that their creativity is the secret ingredient and the most valuable asset they have.
David L. Colby, Esq. is the Managing Director of Colby Law Office, PC, a law firm in NYC that represents many up and coming designers and their businesses worldwide. Colby Law Office works particularly with business formation and governance, intellectual property and contracts.
Colby Law Office is doing the second of their free legal clinics at FIT on May 19th from 5:30-7:30pm. Only RSVP’s may attend https://legalsalon-may.eventbrite.com. If no more space is available, David can be reached at email@example.com to set up a free consultation.
Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:
1. Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)
2. Showing they know how to grow their business
3. Demonstrating profitability and ROI
These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.
Point number 3 – Demonstrating profitability and ROI. A lot of startups get lost here. They don’t realize that you have to invest/spend money in order to make money – Lie #4 – I have to show a profit before I can market. Investors (and actually the company owners should feel this way too) are looking to see if you’re profitable or when you are predicting profitability (break even and beyond). And tossing some money out willy-nilly at marketing efforts will never bring ROI into your company…you have to be strategic in how you market.
Here’s some definitions and formulas for calculating ROI and profitability: