This was just the question I asked myself 5 years ago when I moved to Spain with my son. He was 11 years old then and wanted to be a professional tennis player. So we moved to southern Spain to a tennis academy and his routines of training, strength and conditioning, tournaments started to be the focus of our lives.
My business in the UK at that time was cake design. I designed bespoke cakes for a Disney magazine and make wedding cakes/birthday cakes/ any cake you wanted from my base in Kent. This wasn’t going to work from Spain. I didn’t speak English and whilst there are a lot of English speaking people out here getting married and indeed coming out here to get married, who needed cakes, the whole culture of wedding cakes is totally different.
I had gotten used to delivering the cake on the morning of the wedding, setting it up ready for the party. That’s not how they do things here. The wedding organisers in Spain want the cake delivered in the evening, set up whilst the party has started. This is partly because of the weather – hot most of the time – but also because the weddings are usually outside and that creates a lot of insects that are interested in sugary cakes.
I really did not want to be delivering cakes at that time on a Friday or Saturday night, frequently to some random hacienda up some dirt track on a mountainside. The roads would be gravelly dirt tracks with no crash barrier and a sheer drop to the bottom of the mountain. Notwithstanding the terror of negotiating these roads in the dark, the utter stress I went through delivering my delicate cake creations was beyond explanation. I came to my senses and decided that life was way too short. I gave up making cakes in Spain. I continued making the Disney magazine cakes for another year, every couple of months, flying back on the Friday, making the cake on the Saturday and Sunday then rocking up to the studio on the Monday with the finished cake, ready to remake it in ONE DAY for the cameras. Thankfully they had a hand model for the shots.
Ultimately it all got too much and I decided that I had to find something else to do. I hadnt been at school when computers were an everyday feature so had no experience to fall back on except for my cake website, but up to that point my brother had always updated it for me. I would send him the images and texts to upload for me. I was grateful but to be honest it was never quite how I wanted it to be. I could touch type well and I think Im creative, so thought about whether these were skills I could adapt to a business.
PROS AND CONS OF CREATIVE BUSINESSES
* Advertising – How will you tell your customers about your business? Do you have a wesbite? Local advertising? or perhaps you produce a product that is made solely from materials from within your state or county – so with a unique selling point (USP) and you can sell it through a local shop.. I dabble in natural soaps. I have a few regular customers within the county where I live but its not enough to set the world on fire. This could prove a problem if you don’t have a budget for advertising. You could make natural cordials – Elderberry, Rosehip, Dandelion and Burdock… all from naturally foraged fruits and leaves… amazing idea! Everyone loves a cordial like this with a unique USP.
* Productivity – You can look at this in two ways – that you simply couldnt produce enough of your prodcuts in which case this would be a negative.. I saw some beautiful felt baby moblies, looked amazing and they were very expensive. Great idea, Ill make baby mobiles from felt animals/shapes/childrens characters. The materials are not out of my league, so a good start but the restriction was the detail that was required and the time it took to neatly blanket stitch each one. I loved doing it but it was never going to be a great business without outsourcing the production. Not going to happen, I didnt have the budget for that.
Or…. as far as the soap is concerned, thats way eaiser to produce as the process will create between 15-20 bars from one session. Admittedly they needed wrapping and labelling, but at £6 a bar its not a bad mornings work. I love making soap but it does have its limitations. Natual cordials would be an easy niche to scale up.
*Market – Do you know where you are going to sell your products? A gardening passion could lead to selling produce, or plants you have grown to sell on. These I suspect would need to be robust and reasonably expensive to give sufficient profit, but trees, bushes would definitely be financially worthwhile. But how wil you sell them? A sign at your gate? Or a advert at the local shop? ideally on a website that you can then update with the latest stock and reach a much wider audience.
* Time – Do you have time for this sort of job? Clearly some niches would take up more time than others. Soap takes a minimum of 6 weeks to cure once made, so a lag time in the process. Trees and shrubs.. well they can take years so that might work, and cordials, probably the quickest of them all but storage of stock might be an issue.
CREATIVE BUSINESSES THAT COULD WORK
Painting/Drawing – Can you paint? Do you draw? Using your painting and drawing skills to paint animals, pets, children from photos is an amazing skill – you could go onto Fiverr.com and set up an account, show some of your work people will find you and commission you to do the work for you. You set your own prices. Etsy.com is another great stop off for creative work.
Carving/Cutwork/Woodwork – Some more great suggestions if you have skills along these lines… what about creating resin river tables, or raised boards. Wood carvings of animals/birds/utensils that are particular to your part of the world. This sort of artisan skill is very valuable and whilst you might look at it as just a hobby, there are thousands of people out in the world that appreciate the skill of creating these works of art. Etsy.com is great for this.
Illustrations – Can you draw caricatures? or do you have skills with Adobe Illustrator? I cant draw but I can use Adobe Illustrator. My son was learning it for a high school project and I thought it looked a neat skill so I went onto Lynda.com and used the tutorials there.. a guy called Deeke.. amazing ! and the stuff I can do now for my websites is awesome! I got a free month on Lynda.com and a free month with adobe illustrator to see how I went first but I eventually upgraded to a monthly subscription because I realised how useful it would be.
Website Building – Of course your other choice is to go and learn how to create a website, from scratch. This might be because you want to use it for your own day job business sideline… maybe starting CPR courses locally or offering First Aid classes. Or perhaps a website to follow your hobby and turn it into a passive income? Wealthy Affiliate is the place to go for that.
Ultimately I discovered Wealthy Affiliate and realised pretty quickly that this was what I wanted to do. I still have my practical creative skills, which I love to keep doing but it’s the online work that really reaps the rewards that I have been looking for. Taking a son to tournaments around the world is expensive, so will school be when he is 18, but I can help with the costs now and that is a really great feeling.
If you want to go take a look at Wealthy Affiliate and see if you could do the same, follow my link below (made in Illustrator!) to find out more !
If you’re interested, this is my son now, travelling the globe playing international junior tennis. I am writing this blog from Namibia!