Let’s dive right into it! Here are common five mistakes I’ve discovered along my artrepreneurial journey:
#1 Not tracking your time
How long does it take you to create a finished art piece? How long does it take you to develop the concept for a new project? How much time do you spend with your customers before you actually get paid? The answers to these questions are so important, because they help you understand if your pricing is fair.
For example: Maybe it only takes you 15 hours to paint a mural, but you spent 10 hours collecting materials and 15 hours developing the concept art. Let’s say you charged $1,000. If you aren’t tracking your time properly, you’d think you’re getting paid $67/hr for 15 hours. Sounds nice, right? But in reality, you’re getting paid $25/hr for 40 hours. Tracking your time will tell you how much money you’re really making. You wouldn’t work off the clock for an employer, so don’t do it at your own company. Value yourself and your time!
#2 Not being able to quickly and concisely express your value
Ever heard of an elevator pitch? It’s a 30-second monologue that can be given in the time of an elevator ride, in the case you ever get the chance to ride with someone big. In this elevator pitch, you’re concisely sharing about your value: what you do and why you do it. Feel like you could pitch Jay-Z or Bill Gates in 30-seconds? Maybe not. But what about a potential customer? This is something you should get comfortable with–practice makes perfect.
Note: It might be called a pitch, but that’s the last thing you want customers to feel when you deliver it. Be familiar enough with your value and messaging that you feel natural when speaking. Try practicing with your family, friends, and creative business partners. It will take time and practice, so don’t be afraid to mess up.
#3 Not evaluating what has business potential and what doesn’t
Sometimes it can be hard for artists to recognize which product or service ideas have the best business potential, because the beauty in one’s work is always self-evident. But remember: the value of your product should be measurable in cash, not just beauty. Don’t ask yourself, “Would I pay for this?” but ask yourself, “Would other people pay for this?” How do you know if other people would pay? Ask them! Do some research online. Talk to some potential customers and see if they bite. With every new idea, you should evaluate it’s business potential.
Remember: Testing your creative business idea, thoughts about your potential customers, and other assumptions about your artrepreneurial journey is going to be a major key to your artrepreneurial success!
#4 Not checking your ego
If you feel like you can skip mistake #3 because your idea is just that good, mistake #4 is extra-important. Ego can often cause opportunities to be missed and good advice to be overlooked. I say this from a place of humility, as this particular “mistake” comes from my own experience. You don’t want to create a barrier for yourself as you work hard to build the creative company of your dreams. Be ready to learn, ask others for help, and become vulnerable as you collaborate your way to success!
#5 Not really wanting to be a business person
This is a tough one. Because you’re an artist, I assume that you love spending time creating your art. But if you want to pursue “artrepreneurship,” you’ll need to become a business person, too. This means that you might have to go to meetings and send emails and think about your business model and value. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. But what’s so cool about artrepreneurship is that you don’t have to be just an entrepreneur, and you don’t have to be just an artist… you can be both.
If you think being a business person might not be right for you, consider bringing in a business manager who understands your value and is looking to play the yin to your yang. You’ll still need to learn the basics of the ‘other side,’ but now each of you can focus on your favorite side of the artrepreneurship dyad. Both (or even all) of you can build a successful creative business together!
I hope this list helps you avoid learning some lessons the hard way, like I and so many others have. But even if you do come across some mistakes of your own, remember that there’s a lesson behind every mishap–you just have to be looking.
P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get the straight-up and straight-to-the-point information you’ll need to be successful on your artrepreneurial journey!