Lisa Robbin Young

How to reach a global audience with your creative business

Most creative entrepreneurs I know are quite content to make just enough cash to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads without having to work 50-60 hours a week. As my own business coaching practice has grown, I've discovered that more than 40% of my clients are in a position where they simply can't work a 40-hour week, due to disability, chronic illness, or other demands on their physical capacity.

It's a harsh reality of how our current society is wired that turns many otherwise hard-working, ambitious individuals toward entrepreneurship.

But among those ambitious folks are a select few hell-bent on making the world their oyster, so to speak. A global business removes the limitations that a local market can place on your income. You can extend the life of your offers by reaching new markets, reducing your dependence on local markets. You can use your expertise to benefit the others who might not even know it exists yet, allowing you to create more Raving Fans. It allows you to expand your reach, your impact, and ideally - your income.

A global business is not without its hassles, though. If you're trying to make a money transfer to Bangladesh, or outsourcing to international team members, you can run into currency exchange issues, or rejected payments. You'll also have other competitors to consider - who may have a stronger foothold in those foreign markets. Plus, depending on your market, you may run into regulatory issues that you'll need to navigate.

It pays to do your homework before casting a wider net, but don't let hiccups like these prevent you from finding and serving your Raving Fans.

With this huge amount of potential for international growth for your business, here are three options to consider for taking your creative business to a global audience.

1. Import and Export

Whether you're using foreign companies to create your next physical product, or you're shipping your art overseas, this is one of the oldest forms of international trade.

The biggest obstacles for most creatives are freight and customs. With freight, the larger/heavier your items, the more it's going to cost to ship. That makes sense. But even small items can get held up in customs for months. Make sure that anything you're shipping isn't against the rules of the country you're shipping into and you should be good to go.

2. Franchising

When a business operates under the brand name of a firm company, this is known as franchising. A popular global franchise is a McDonald’s, which when opened overseas benefits from brand recognition instantly.

Don't think that you couldn't franchise your own creative business. There are plenty of art studio franchises in the world. Yours could be next. The biggest benefit to a franchise buyer is systems and brand reputation. People don't buy McDonald's franchises because they want the best burgers in the world. They buy the franchise because the name brand is well known, carries a positive reputation in the marketplace, and has systematized everything so that you can get up and running quickly. While I wouldn't recommend setting up a franchise if you're a Chaotic creative, Linears can often find wider success here.

3. Licensing 

Licensing is where there is an agreement made to enable you to use a brand name or idea that another company owns. For example a company making wall art can get a license to create images of certain favorite movie characters for canvases. I am a certified Fix This Next advisor, which means I've passed the certification and paid my annual licensing fee to be a certified advisor. This give me a license to use Mike Michalowicz's Fix This Next intellectual property in my own business - according to the terms of the agreement.

After entering into an agreement a company becomes a licensee. All of the terms and conditions are stipulated within the agreement, including using images and sharing some of the revenue. There are strict rules that you have to stick to if you go into licensing.

We're actively researching the process to certify and license the Creative Freedom coaching method for other business coaches. We're still a few years off, but it's another way for us to grow the reach of the company into new markets.

This is also a great way for Chaotics and Fusions to expand their celebrity. Many famous creatives license their name or likeness for physical products and services - like Melissa McCarthy's line of clothing, or Lady Gaga's oreo cookies. The company pays you a licensing fee in order to use your name or likeness on their products and you've pretty much got a hands-off revenue stream.

If you've got a body of work, intellectual property, or even a well-known face or name, there's a way to reach a larger, global audience. It's just a matter of doing the research, making sure you've covered your bases with regulators, and developed iron-clad contracts to protect yourself as your company grows.

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