The Four Transitions
Every creative business is a series of ever-increasing distillations. The purer and cleaner the distillation, the purer and cleaner the result. Here is the ideal all creative businesses need to shoot for:
You start with the known universe of clients looking for the art you create. Somebody needs flowers. The client sifts through choices, referrals, past experiences and they land on your creative business.
Transition number one happens. Your potential client has a vision of who you, your art and your creative business is, but they have no idea who you ACTUALLY are. When you pick up the phone, write your first email or shake their hand, you reveal yourself to be either a better version of what the potential client imagined you to be or not. Better and you get the project, worse and they are gone.
Now you have a client that likes the actual you better than their vision of you. On to your ideas. How are you going to present what you have in mind for your client in a way that simultaneously honors what they hope for and what you need as an artist? Clients have to feel heard and seen, yes, but that is never enough. They have to be dazzled by the idea and you have to over-invest in communicating that dazzlement. Transition number two – ideas to actual design – a window into what is in store for the client with their full buy-in.
An approved design. Not the holy grail, but the foundation upon which every house is built. Transition number three – design to production. How is this amazing design going to come to fruition? What is the road map and how do you explain what is and is not possible as you head down the road. Throw in a few more flowers, sure. Add five more tables three days before the event, not a chance. The more clients understand what is necessary for you to do your best, the more they will allow you to do just that.
Ready for the big reveal. All creative business is about theater. Why? Theater is designed to move you, to make you feel, not just once but in a series, to take you on a journey. Theater leaves the patron somehow different after the experience, transformed for a moment or a lifetime. Transition number four – production to execution. At a certain point, the story is written, the design is done, the movie is edited, the song recorded. Done is done and how you move your clients into the moment of done is critical. This is your crescendo and you will not get another chance at it. If a client is thinking about all of the production choices, extra expenses, even design, you, your art and your creative business are sunk. They have to be ready to enjoy the show. The show is that one drop – the purest essence of you, your art, and your creative business. A drop distilled from the universe of those who practice your art to your singular expression – for your client.
Transitions are everything. They are one-way, ever shrinking valves. Nothing, and I truly mean nothing, is more important than working on your transitions. The better they are, the better the next step will be, the better your final product.
It is so easy to look past transitions in the name of getting to next place. Land the client at all costs, ignoring that some clients are wholly wrong for you. Wimp out on design presentation so you can fudge it at the end. Redesign as you work through inevitable budget changes. Finish for the sake of getting done instead of creating a wow. Transitions all of them.
Make no mistake, transitions are your responsibility as an artist and creative business owner, not your clients’. Multiple distillations require ever increasing purity of intent. All things in their own time to the moment that is only yours.
Sean Low is the founder and president of The Business of Being Creative, LLC in New York City, NY, which provides practical business advice to those in the business of being creative. As the former president of Preston Bailey Design, Inc. and through working with many other creative clients, Sean has discovered his passion for helping artists build their businesses in a way that honors the art that is behind them.
Sean Low will be hosting an exclusive business-minded session at the 2015 Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow on Sunday, March 9 from 2:00pm-3:15pm. Sign up here to join Sean for this one-of-a-kind opportunity.