Creative Business Wrap – June 2023

It’s funny how if you’re in business, you (generally) get two opportunities per year to stop and take breath: one at the end of the calendar year and one at the end of financial year. The EOFY one often feels more like a race to get a stack of things done by 30 June, and often that drawing of breath doesn’t happen until 1 July. That’s certainly how it feels around here! 

I hope you find time amongst the end of year tasks to browse this month’s selection of articles and resources relating to the business end of the creative industries. Thanks to those readers who have sent feedback on previous newsletters, so far it’s been very encouraging. Feel free to share it with colleagues and contacts. 

Growth in Games Industry

There’s positive news for the games industry in Australia with the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association‘s Annual Game Development Survey showing game development jobs growing by 59% in the last financial year and income increasing by 26%. The industry has been boosted by government funding in the form of the Digital Games Tax Offset which has led to increased interest from international businesses and engagement by investors. While 69% of studios were planning to hire new staff in FY22/23, the major challenge is finding staff with specialised skills. It’s still a male-dominated industry with 75% of workers identifying as male – maybe there’s an opportunity for a training or mentoring program to target women and non-binary people to gain relevant skills and enter the industry.

Plan B becomes Plan C

Traditionally those who aspired to a creative career were warned to have a backup plan: a more financially stable and perhaps more mundane qualification or skill to ride out the times when income is intermittent. This article on the BBC, “Why the back-up career is moving further out of reach”, warns that many Plan B careers are now more difficult to achieve and less sustainable, due to re-training costs, industry burnout, and instability in traditionally secure professions. IT and law, once considered ‘safe’ options have been impacted by redundancies and threats from artificial intelligence. The traditional careers of teaching and nursing are seen as less attractive due to the perception of low pay and workplace stress. According to Australia’s National Skills Commission, a big growth area for jobs is caring for the aged and people with disability which grew by 28% over the past 5 years. I can see opportunities here for creatives to build a back-up career while supporting people of all abilities to participate in and benefit from creative activities.

Artists pay to exhibit
Is “Pay to Play” a fair business model that shares the risks and rewards between artists and galleries or an opportunity to exploit emerging artists who need to build a profile? This article in The Art Newspaper compares several business models used by galleries in the UK and Europe. Many galleries are charging artists large upfront fees to exhibit and to cover the setup and promotion but don’t charge commissions on sales. Others charge commission on top of the “entry fee” as well as expecting artists to cover the costs of transport and packing. Even winning a prize or award that includes a solo show can land the artist with the costs of fabricating, framing, and transporting artworks that may not sell. The challenge lies in finding a balance that is mutually beneficial but not exploitative.

Fashion industry unravelling

This article and slide deck from The Guardian charts a grim timeline of the decline of the Australian fashion industry over the last twenty years due to the reduction of tariffs and the rise of fast fashion and online shopping. There are parallels to the previous story about galleries charging artists to exhibit. Online fashion marketplace The Iconic offers fashion brands “opt-in partnership opportunities”, i.e. hefty fees to have a tile dedicated to your brand on the homepage, featured ads on the mobile app, and email and social media coverage in the thousands of dollars per week. Most interesting to me is seeing how a small number of fashion businesses have managed to pivot by trading scale for slowness and sustainability, embracing direct-to-consumer e-commerce, utilising remnant and sustainable materials, and offering variations of popular styles rather than brand-new styles each season.


Introverted entrepreneurs 

The stereotype of an entrepreneur is an extrovert who revels in sales talk, but I liked how Rachel Greenberg on Medium breaks down the myth and outlines strategies for the introvert to be successful in sales. Her advice is based on perfecting and practicing a blurb that illustrates the value of the product or service, outsourcing the sales function, creating testimonials, and ensuring that you genuinely believe in what you are selling.  She summed it up with this insightful quote: “You don’t have to master talking to, or even communicating with people in order to excel in growing your company. You do, however, have to master understanding people. It’s not about how you speak to them or what you say; it’s about how you can provide them what they want and convey that value in a way that plays to your strengths and their preferences.”


  • John Cleese’s audiobook Creativity, A Short and Cheerful Guide is a very listenable 58 minutes of insight, encouragement, and practical tips delivered in trademark lighthearted John Cleese fashion.  His premise is that we can learn to be creative, we need to slow down our decision-making process to allow the mind to play with ideas, and to value feedback and collaboration. A quick boost for those days when self-doubt is getting in the way of producing anything.
  • If you’re interested in both history and entrepreneurship (who isn’t?), take a look at David Lidow’s The Entrepreneurs. He writes about the ubiquity of entrepreneurship in society, but is pleasingly balanced about its pros and cons. Its early chapters are devoted to examples of entrepreneurship in antiquity – pendant makers from Jordan in 6950BC, tool makers in Western Europe in 3250BC, ancient Egyptian traders and so on. You can read an excerpt here.
  • Do you want to confidently give an Acknowledgement of a Country that is meaningful and authentic? Shelley Reys, Djiribul woman from North Queensland and CEO of Arrilla Indigenous Consulting explains in this TED talk how to simply and meaningfully create your own Acknowledgement of Country that honours and connect with First Nations culture and country. TAFENSW is also offering an online Acknowledgement of Country microskill course with templates and diverse examples to create your personalised Acknowledgement.

Things to do this month

Some timely steps to take this month to help grow your business.

  • Take some time to streamline your customer database and divide it into meaningful segments.  Determine the segments you want to target for growth in the next financial year.
  • How much networking have you done this year?  Put together a calendar of events and activities to attend in the second half of the year and consider hosting a networking event to showcase your business.
  • Identify 5-6 key contacts who refer clients to you. Take the time to reconnect with them for lunch, or coffee, or sending a thank-you gift. Can you strengthen the relationship by reciprocating and referring clients to them?