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Business skills that help you charge more as a creative

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

Any time you work with a client, it is an opportunity to show them the value that you can add to their business. Instead of seeing you as a hired pair of hands, you can demonstrate your skills to listen and take their business to the next level. If you have an understanding of how business works, you can add more value and therefore charge more and build more trust with your clients. Plus, being good at the business side of things will help you become a better entrepreneur or employee as well! We will look at a few areas where knowing a bit more than the average creative can set you apart and help you grow your own business.

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  • Risk and reward

  • Connecting the dots

  • Sunk costs

  • Pitching

Risk and reward

Any creative project is an investment that comes with more risk than just the money spent. If the work is not up to the client's expectations, they have wasted time and they risk damaging their brand image. Knowing this, you as a creative can show empathy and consideration by explaining your process clearly and what actions you take to mitigate any risks. This can be as simple as including a section in your proposal about the creative process and how you will have sign-offs at each stage.

Connecting the dots

When you create anything for a client, it needs to live within their existing company ecosystem. In practice, this means that the customer experience should feel consistent across all interactions and you want to help your client guide their customers. Even if you are only involved in a small part, your clients will appreciate tips and ideas for connecting your work to the rest of their brand. For example, if you design a website for a client, you can ask what ads they are planning to run so you can create custom landing pages in preparation. These small considerations will both add value to the clients business and show that you bring strategic thinking to the table.

Sunk costs

Sunk costs describes how people who have invested time or money in to an idea have a harder time letting it go. No one likes to throw away money so when you suggest a new direction, there might be some pushback. If you create something that requires your client to make a big investment, like changing the shape of their packing (meaning they have to create a new mold) or even something as simple as updating their company colour, always think about the consequence this will have for your client's business. It might be worth the investment but it is always better to ask and have an open discussion about this before coming up with new ideas. This will show your client that you have their best interest in mind, can think about the reality of running a business and will listen to their needs.


If you ever design pitch decks, presentations, business plans or even a website meant to help your client seek investment, knowing what investors look for can really help you. This means you can suggest what information to add, how to speak to the right audience and even help your client tell their story in a more compelling way. Since you are outside of the business, your perspective can be really helpful for a company trying to explain their business to investors who have little or no background in the industry. If you want to learn more about this, try listening to business podcasts like The pitch or Zero to IPO to get a better feeling for the type of questions investors might ask.

If you know of a helpful business skill we missed, share it with the creative community! We are a very helpful and friendly bunch who like to support each other. See you there!

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