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A reason why creatives are encouraged to build a business structure is because of scale.

Scale is when over time, your output becomes exponentially more than your input. You produce a piece of work and that single effort yields multiple value, even when you are sleeping. That is the sweet spot for many creatives.

A creative’s products mostly come from personal effort. They expend their own time and talent to produce things. Typically, they only have a small window of time to be relevant, unless they possess rare trans-generational appeal. Therefore, they must mine as much value during that window and then deploy same to other things when their time on stage is done.

Creatives must master the art of replicating their “secret sauce”, so their businesses continue to provide income even in their absence. That’s what structure does. Another beautiful thing is it leads to economies of scale. Once a good structure is in place and a system is built, it can be deployed to other products concurrently with little additional cost.

Structure mines, enhances, productises, markets and protects talent. But here’s the secret. A lot of a creative’s structure actually lies in other people – his or her team! So the real skill a creative has to master is the ability to choose the right team and to negotiate favourable terms. Your team includes your talent manager who helps you to refine your raw gifts, your admin guys who develop a replicable process around your gifts (and ensure everything runs smoothly), your legal & accounting team who protect you, your booking & marketing team who creates a market for you and ensures your products sell and so on. All of that is structure.

At the beginning of a creative’s journey, they will mostly play all these roles themselves (as it should be). Once they have a product they can trade, they can then begin to outsource the different functions. However, whether you’re playing the roles yourself or are thinking of developing a team, three things are important in building structure – Intelligence, Discipline and Relationships.

INTELLIGENCE

Intelligence is your capacity to learn and the curiosity to seek out information in the first place. In an age where almost limitless information abounds, you must know how to pick out what is relevant. But here’s an important point – find out how you learn best before you start learning. Some people learn through videos, some through books, others through classroom discussions. Once you identify how you learn, narrow your search to information in that format. It will transform your learning process. And, don’t be too cheap to pay for valuable information.

One thing I’ve discovered in a non-transparent society like Africa, is that what often separates the successful from the unsuccessful is simply what they know that others don’t.

Build your intellect through conscious and disciplined study. For some people, they deliberately read a certain number of books a month, even though they don’t particularly like it. This is because a sharpened brain increasingly becomes more absorbent of information and more skilled at analysis. It takes practice and training, especially if you weren’t born with a natural thirst for knowledge.

There are multiple ways to skin a cat. When an information is presented to you, your love for learning will drive you to seek alternatives. That way, you can make informed decisions. Often times, your handlers only present to you what they know. It’s your job to confirm if that’s the only option or if there are other alternatives.

DISCIPLINE

Discipline is crucial especially for those who have to run their own structure in the early days. It means creating systems like timetables, calendars, checklists or alarms, so you do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done. It’s incredible hard work, particularly for Sanguines. But if your philosophy of life is, “I can’t come and kill myself.” you will have problems. To succeed, you must “die”. You must die to pride, laziness, social media distractions and failure.

I know in Africa, people assume the easiest way to succeed is to know someone or to be corrupt. But even great networkers and corrupt people work incredibly hard. Every enterprise, whether noble or evil, requires hard work to sustain it.

RELATIONSHIPS

Relationships are built on the bedrock of give & take. Never come to the negotiation table without anything to offer. Kill the spirit of entitlement and “give-away”. It makes you look weak and unserious.

In your early days, all you will have to trade is your talent or product itself. If so, what you stand to lose in immediate revenue must be strategically considered. Ask yourself, “Is the structure I’m getting in return going to ensure that in future, I reap multiples of what I’m giving away now?” If yes, then be clear on your agenda and mine every single thing you can from the give & take relationship. Do so until you can afford to pay for services and retain more creative control.

Don’t be so scared about being cheated that you always approach the negotiation table with suspicion. Everyone wants the best deal. Have your own requests prepared upfront. Also know your deal-breakers. Finally, trust your gut. The thing is, you’ve been making relationship decisions all your life. You chose a best friend and you chose a spouse or significant other. Already, you have experiences in choosing good people. Rely on the lessons you’ve learned and don’t ignore your instincts.

I’m currently preparing a course titled CREATIVES & MONEY. More than any other group of people, creatives often struggle with business concepts and economic realities. If you are interested in receiving information about this course in the next month or two, then please sign up here.

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