Even the most technical businesses require some element of creativity. Whether it’s branding themselves or designing a product, creativity plays a pretty significant role in the world of business. 

So, it’s not unheard of for businesses to hire creative help. Afterall, it takes the right kind of creative intuition to really hit the nail on the head. Creative consultants are brought in for their expertise to help solve an issue, design something new or help alleviate a business in another way. 

If you’re in the creative industry, then it might be time to start your own creative consulting business. Running your own business while putting your creative specialisation to good use can be a winning combination! However, it’s extremely important to take care of the legal aspects so you can protect your creative consulting business right from the start. 

Keep reading to learn more.   

What Is Creative Consulting? 

When there’s a task that requires some out of the box thinking, it generally requires some ‘creative consulting’. There’s no universal definition or official understanding of what creative consulting actually is. What’s important to understand is that creative consulting requires someone to come in and approach a task or an issue in an innovative or original way. 

A software company needs to design their business’s logo, website, plus some other materials in a way that reflects their identity and values. After coming up short on ideas, they choose to hire a creative consultant. The consultant is able to combine colours, ideas, words and images that capture the essence of the company and help attract their intended audience. 

What Does A Creative Consultant Do And How Do You Become A Creative Consultant? 

Often, creative consulting is used across various different industries for a multitude of reasons. Therefore, what each creative consultant does will depend on the industry they are working in and what specific services they offer. For instance, a creative consultant that works within the fashion industry is going to have a very different day-to-day than a consultant that works in the hospitality sector. 

To become a creative consultant, there’s no definitive or linear path you need to follow. A degree isn’t necessarily required, however some creative consultants choose to get qualified in their chosen area. You will also need to have industry exposure, where you’ve accumulated actual hands-on work experience. 

Overall, to become a creative consultant, a high level of advanced knowledge, skills and experience needs to be demonstrated. It’s important to ensure you’ve taken the time to build your career up to a point where you can confidently call yourself an expert. 

What If I’m Not A Creative Consultant? 

There’s also a chance you might be thinking of starting your own creative consulting business without actually being a creative consultant yourself. In this scenario, you will need to hire creative consultants to work with clients, while you focus on running the business. The same concept applies here as well. Ensure that the consultants you bring on board to your business are well-versed in the area they’ll be providing creative consultations for. 

How To Start A Creative Consulting Business: What You Need To Know

Before starting any business, there’s a number of decisions you will need to make. These choices will establish the foundations of your business, so it’s important to carefully consider your options. You’ll need to think about things like liability, future growth opportunities, upkeep of your business, finances, management, long-term goals and much more. 

Having everything written down in a Business Plan can help you gain the clarity needed to make wise choices for your creative consulting business. We know the research stage can get a little overwhelming – there’s a lot of ground to cover! It helps to have the advice of an expert to guide you in the right direction. If you have any questions about the legal aspects of running a creative consulting business, reach out to our legal experts for a quick chat.  

Once you’ve done your due diligence, you’ll be ready to take the next step into starting your creative consulting business by getting it registered.  

Should I Register My Creative Consulting Business As A Company?

If your creative consulting business is a serious endeavour, then we recommend a company legal structure. 

Often, new business owners get intimidated by the term ‘company’. It is deemed too ‘complex’ or ‘confusing’ to set up a company. We get it, setting up a company takes a little bit of extra work. However, a company is also able to offer you a lot more legal protection, which is great if you’re in this for the long haul. Companies are legal entities on their own, meaning they are separate from you. This allows the company to do things like own property, earn a profit and incur debt. At the same time, it also limits your personal liability which is always a good thing. 

Setting Up A Company doesn’t need to be a daunting task. You need to get a few details in order like your directors, shareholders and company governance. After that, you have to register it with ASIC and be prepared for your ongoing obligations. A legal expert can make this process much simpler and easier, so get in touch with one of us today.   

Aside from a company, your other two choices are setting up your creative consultancy business as a sole trader or in a partnership. The setup process for these two are much simpler. All you need to do is obtain an ABN (for partners, one for each) which can be done online. Once that is completed, you’ll need to register a Business Name – if you’re using something other than your own name or the names of all the partners. 

Even though it’s far more convenient to set up as a sole trader or in a partnership, it’s important to be mindful of the risks. With these legal structures, the business is personally connected to you. Without any legal separation between you and your creative consultancy business, you will be liable for everything that happens within the business. This can be detrimental if something happens to go wrong with the business. Moreover, being registered as a sole trader or partnership can also limit any growth or expansion opportunities in the future. 

We’ve written more about business legal structures here. If you’re keen to know more, check it out.  

Do I Need Any Legal Documents For My Creative Consultancy?

The next thing you need to think about when starting your creative consulting business, is the legal agreements. Legal agreements are what keeps your business secured and protected. Without them, you’d be left pretty vulnerable. Trust us – that’s a risk you don’t want to take. Instead, investing in strong, professionally drafted legal agreements can help your business stay ahead of potential troubles. 

The exact legal agreements you’ll need will depend on your business. As a creative consultancy business, you might want to think about getting a Consultancy Agreement. This contract is the one you’ll be presenting to all your potential clients before agreeing to work with them. A consultancy agreement is pretty important. It addresses matters like the nature of the work you’ll be doing, so everyone has the same expectations. It also covers things like payment, key dates, confidentiality and termination. That way, you’ve got everything sorted and something to look back on, in case you ever need to. 

Aside from a consultancy agreement, a few other legal agreements that could help your creative consultancy include: 

A legal expert can cater your legal agreements to suit your business’s needs, get in touch with us to learn more. 

Are There Any Other Legal Considerations? 

In order to run a legally compliant business, it’s important to run a creative consultancy that is in line with the regulations that impact it. As a business owner, you’ll be responsible for making sure your business is following the relevant regulations. Therefore, it’s a good idea to chat with a Regulatory Compliance professional to get advice that’s specific to your business. 

We’ve listed a few regulations you’ll need to be familiar with below. 

Australian Consumer Law (ACL)

The ACL sets the standard for any Australian business providing a product or service. It’s vital to ensure that all your business practices are compliant with the ACL’s rules – even accidentally infringing on them can lead to serious legal penalties. Taking active steps to avoid misleading or deceptive conduct, ensuring all your clients are being treated fairly and providing a good quality service are all part of the ACL’s standards. Ensuring you’re familiar with them is in your creative consultancy business’s best interest. 

Employment Laws 

If your creative consulting business is going to be Hiring Employees, then it’s your duty as the owner of the business to ensure that employees are receiving the correct treatment. This not only means providing them with the right awards and entitlements but also making sure they have a safe and professional workplace. Getting a few documents like a Workplace Policy or Staff Handbook sorted can help steer your workplace in the right direction. 

Data and Privacy 

Having a creative consulting business means that you will more than likely be subject to private information about your clients. Your clients probably trust you to keep their information secure and as a business, it’s your duty to take reasonable steps towards making sure their information is protected. Getting in touch with an expert in Data and Privacy can help you get the guidance needed to ensure you’re doing everything in your power to protect your clients information.  

Next Steps 

Starting a creative consulting business can be a great new business venture, however it’s important to properly address all the legal considerations. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Creative Consulting Defined: Creative consulting involves approaching tasks or issues innovatively, such as designing a logo or website to reflect a company’s identity
  • Becoming a Creative Consultant: No specific path exists – industry exposure and a demonstrated high level of knowledge and skills are crucial
  • Starting a Consulting Business: Legal considerations are crucial. A well-thought-out business plan is essential for decisions on liability, finances, growth and long-term goals
  • Business Structure Choices: A company legal structure is recommended for greater legal protection, despite the perceived complexity. Sole trader and partnership options are simpler but come with personal liability risks
  • Legal Agreements: Legal agreements are extremely important, particularly a consultancy agreement, which covers aspects like work nature, payment, confidentiality and termination
  • Regulatory Compliance: There is a need to comply with Australian Consumer Law, employment laws, as well as data and privacy regulations for a legally sound creative consulting business

If you would like a consultation on starting a creative consulting business, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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