As an artist, you already understand how important it is to have a vision for a project before you start creating it. A vision helps you make decisions as you start building your artwork. A vision helps you to stay on track even when you feel discouraged. A vision helps you to understand if you’ve created the final result you hoped for. It’s no different in business. Vision is a critical component to building a creative business. So I’ll start by asking: What’s your vision for your art-based business?
Growth company: If you’re envisioning a large company with a worldwide presence and a mega customer-base, you’re going to need to think about the scalable part of your business model. In this case, you want to build a growth company and need to start thinking about about how you can create a brand and business model that will cater to your strategy as you grow (check out this article for more on scalability). For example: When you’re branding, you should focus on the company and how it can be shared by many people over time. As your company grows, you may expand locations, hire managers, and grow a large team of employees. Your brand needs to be relatable to them and easy for them to share as they become part of your creative business.
An example of this kind of creative business might be a clothing brand, a film company, or a music label. But remember, any kind of creative business can be a either a growth company or a lifestyle company–you just have to make that strategic decision and act accordingly.
Lifestyle company: If you’re envisioning yourself as a highly paid individual who holds the ultimate value in your own talent and time, then you’ll need to think about how you can access markets with customers who will pay more and more for your value. For example: When you’re branding, you’ll need to think about how you can brand yourself and your artistic talent. You might still employ a brand name, but artists who pursue a business of this sort will rely heavily on their networks in order to grow. This means that you are your business’ money-maker, and you’ll need to focus on small markets where there’s lots of money to be made.
An example of this kind of creative business might be a high-end muralist, couture fashion designer, or upcycler who creates art pieces for high-end businesses. I mention high-end in most of these examples because, as this kind of artrepreneur, it’s important that you identify ways to continually increase the amount of money you charge for a single project or product over the course of your career. But of course, you don’t have to pursue high-end markets. What’s beautiful about a lifestyle business is that it’s main purpose is to support your lifestyle. If you’d prefer maintaining a simple lifestyle, you don’t have to pursue high-paying jobs. You can serve your local community at reasonable prices and still be a successful artrepreneur.
Understanding what you want your creative business to look like in the future is the first step in understanding where you need to start today.
Vision is also important in the short-term, as it allows you to understand how you can complete projects in a manner that aligns with your long-term vision. Whether you decide to pursue a growth company or a lifestyle company, each of your upcoming decisions should reflect that strategic goal. Most artists have a strength in short-term vision because it’s what helps us to build artwork according to our inspiration and plans. But just like with art, don’t be afraid to pivot and change directions whenever you feel it’s necessary. Just remember to consider your long-term vision first. If you want to adjust your long-term vision, too, do it! Just be strategic and intentional about every choice you make.
Creative vision probably isn’t new to you, but using it in business might be. One of the most important benefits of creative vision is that you can use it to help rally others around what you’re doing. Your vision is what you’ll use to share your plans with others, to convince them to partner with you and to buy from you. Most artists have creative vision in the bag, but sharing that creative vision can be hard for anyone. Practice talking about your plans with others. Try to understand whether or not they can see the same vision as you after you’ve spent time explaining it to them. Wherever they have questions, try working on sharing that part of your vision in different ways. Test out your vision on those who are close to you and who will give you honest feedback. Don’t be afraid to take their criticism and apply it to what you’re doing.
Understanding how to share your creative vision with others will make all the difference in your success as an artrepreneur. If you decide to pursue a growth company, you’ll need to encourage others to join your creative business and help it grow. If you decide to pursue a lifestyle company, you’ll need to convince others to work with you and buy from you. Having a clear creative vision and knowing how to share it will help you do both.
Challenge: Try writing down, drawing out, or in some way making your vision tangible. This will help you see it from an outsider’s perspective and will allow you to make adjustments where necessary.
As an artrepreneur, vision is critical to success (however you decide to define it). Once you feel confident about where you’re headed, check out the rest of Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to help you start executing your vision and building your very own creative business!