How to Gain Life-long Customers and a Dedicated Creative Team

It takes trust.

Artwork by PLotulitStocker

There’s all kinds of literature out there that talks about the impact trust has on entrepreneurs and their businesses. The more people trust you, the more likely they are to do business with you. Sounds easy, but as most of us know, trust can be hard to build and even harder to regain once it’s lost. If you’re thinking about how you can ensure that you’re building trust with your customers and partners, focus on these three factors:

[Note: If you would like to read my full research paper on this topic, with citations included, please click here.]

Trust = Benevolence + Integrity + Ability

Some of the most respected researchers in leadership have identified three important factors in developing trust with others: perceived benevolence, integrity, and ability. Note the word perceived. Trust from others doesn’t depend on how well-meaning, honest, and competent you think you are. It depends on how well-meaning, honest, and competent they think you are.

Benevolence – Defined as: “well meaning and kindly.” Benevolence is present when others feel like you have their best interests in mind, when they feel like you mean well and don’t have a hidden agenda.

Integrity – Defined as: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” Integrity exists when a person acts in accordance with his or her beliefs and values, and when a person does what they say they’ll do.

Ability – Defined as: “possession of the means or skill to do something.” Ability is what allows you to do what you say you’ll do. Ability is a requirement for getting things done. Understanding your own abilities and promising accordingly is important in maintaining the trust of others.

The combination of these three characteristics is a perfect catalyst for building trust with others, and trust is one of the most important factors in gaining life-long customers and a dedicated team. In the research paper linked above, I looked at multiple studies that show how important trust is for encouraging people to share in your vision. A shared vision is at the core of successful relationships with both your customers and your team. When your vision is clear and when you, as a leader, are trusted, magic happens. Customers recognize your value and share it with others. Your partners work hard to push the common mission forward. All things work together in unison, and creative businesses thrive.

Think about how your customers and partners perceive you. You’ll have to ask them, and try picking up on social clues that can give you insight to the way you are viewed. Then think about how you can increase your benevolence, integrity, and ability. Oftentimes, just being aware of these characteristics can help you to improve them. How can you work toward increased trust between yourself and those who make your artrepreneurial success possible?

This week’s blog posts have been centered around integrity, relationships, and trust for a reason. Emotion is so deeply tied to the way business is done, that a successful artrepreneur must visit these topics in order to find the success they know they can accomplish. As you work on becoming a better leader for your art-based business, you’re gaining lifelong benefits that you’ll come to be grateful for down the road. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the more technical side of building your creative business in the next few articles, so stay tuned!

Make your artrepreneurial journey easier by following Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet below!

Peace, Kayla

How to Strengthen Your Weaknesses to Become a More Successful Artrepreneur

The short answer? People!

The short answer? People! But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, you have to start by really understanding what your weaknesses actually are. For example, I have a weakness in operating technology. I can get by, but don’t excel in utilizing technology to it’s fullest potential. That’s why it’s so great to have a tech-savvy business partner! He teaches me new things and is responsible for the technological aspects of our work. We balance each other well in our strengths and weaknesses.

That’s what I mean by people. We can select creative partners in accordance to our relative strengths and weaknesses so that each person has a unique value to bring to the table. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent partner. Often artists must partner with others to get a project done, and once the project is over, each part of the team moves on. [Hollywood is notorious for utilizing this sort of collaboration. Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt refer to this kind of business structure as “nano corporations” in their book A World Gone Social. ] Together, nano corps create something awesome by allowing each member to contribute their unique strength. Plus, when the next project comes along, you already know who to call when a specific skill is necessary!

Photo by LivDeco

Building a (permanent or temporary) team around your weaknesses is helpful for many reasons:

  • Two heads are greater than one: These team members can help you find easier and more efficient ways to do things in their field of expertise.
  • Working with others gives you the opportunity to work on more projects, or to add more of your own value to a single project.
  • They can bring creativity to the table, and so can you. Having multiple perspectives not only breeds relatability for multiple potential target markets, but can help the creative process expand further than you could have originally imagined.
  • More hands on deck means more work in the queue. Again, working as a team increases efficiency, giving you the opportunity to work on more projects at a single time.

Start by thinking about your own strengths and weaknesses, and find trustworthy individuals who complement you. Look around your existing network and within your local community. But first, make sure you truly understand the value you can bring to them, because the benefits you’ll give each other will help to build a creative team that is efficient and perfectly interdependent.

Network effects

Yes, bringing in more people will help you to work on more projects faster, but it will also help you to reach more people faster. Creative partners are often some of the biggest promoters and evangelists for your work, because it’s really our work. If you’re trying to build a brand, the more people sharing your work, the better.

Remember: It’s important to be genuine when building your creative team. You want your potential partners to know that you have their best interests in mind, and that you are capable of executing your own responsibilities. Make sure your creative partners recognize your integrity when they work with you, and you’ll be one step closer to becoming a successful artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

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Finding Inspiration in the Ordinary

As artrepreneurs, inspiration is crucial for our success. But where do we find it in times like these?

Impacts of the Coronavirus have taken much of the spontaneity and unknown out of our lives. We’re stuck inside with the people we know best, searching for something new in our TV screens and thoroughly read books. As artrepreneurs, inspiration is crucial for our success. But where do we find it in times like these?

I’d like to encourage all of us to take this time to find inspiration in the ordinary. As a filmmaker, there is beauty in the dynamic of a family dinner. As a painter, there is newness in seeing your home in this rare, quarantined form. As a writer, there is wonder in the many lives taking place around us behind walls of concrete. Sometimes it just takes a shift in perspective to find inspiration in this time of “ordinary” living.

Where art and entrepreneurship meet. Finding inspiration in the ordinary during the time of the Coronavirus
Photo by Elaine McClure

If you’ve never seen it, you’ve most certainly heard of the TV show that’s captivated millions–The Office. This mock-umentary style TV show has gained unimaginable praise across the internet for over a decade now. Why? The show is based in the office of a small town paper supplier, with characters who are certainly no Hollywood superstars. So why is the show so popular? It’s concept is built around the idea that there is beauty in the ordinary. Its relatability and familiarity breaks barriers between viewers and characters, creating a bond between the two that has proven to be stronger than one might expect. The Office has thrived on inspiration of the ordinary.

Right now is a perfect time to do the same in your work. Where does relatability exist in your life right now? This presents an opportunity for you to connect with your potential customers in a way that’s genuine and trustworthy. How can you bring the beauty of the ordinary into your own work?

This is also a great opportunity to evaluate how you can create a scalable portion of your business offering. For example: dinnerware. Dinnerware is a part of (almost) everyone’s life. It’s beauty lives both in its functionality and its design. As a painter, maybe you’ve only thought about selling canvas work. But what about dinnerware that’s designed with art-lovers in mind? This idea might be spurred from having to eat home-made meals for the last two weeks. Dinnerware is ordinary, but with the right perspective, it might inspire a whole new component of your artrepreneurial journey.

I’m wishing you well in this time of quiet chaos, and hope that you’ll find inspiration in the ordinary that surrounds you!

Peace, Kayla

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Calling All Artrepreneurs! Emergency Savings are Critical

During the time of Coronavirus impacts, it’s becoming more and more clear just how important emergency savings are, especially for entrepreneurs. You’ll be happy you took the time to develop a fund that can help you ride the waters!

During the time of Coronavirus impacts, it’s becoming more and more clear just how important emergency savings are, especially for entrepreneurs.

Before you quit your job and start your entrepreneurial journey, make sure you have money set aside to help cushion your transition! The goal of every business is to grow, which implies that you have to start somewhere. In the beginning (and sometimes even far into your journey), growth might be slow and unexpected events might happen. You’ll be happy you took the time to develop a fund that can help you ride the waters.

An emergency savings alleviates stress. Learn more helpful tips from Artrepreneurship - where 'art' and 'entrepreneurship' meet!
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Ways to develop your emergency savings:

Lower your monthly expenses and put away what you save

A good way to start is by writing down all your monthly expenses: rent, groceries, gas, utilities, laundry, eating out, drinking out with friends, etc. Then, prioritize them. Rent, groceries, utilities, and gas should be first. Once you’ve ranked your expenses, commit to removing the last one or two on your list. In this case, maybe its drinking with friends and eating out. Let’s say you usually spend about $150 a month on the two combined. CHA-CHING! You just found a new way to save $1,800 dollars this year.

NOTE: You must be honest with yourself here. How much do you really spend on eating out? Try keeping all your receipts and adding them up at the end of the month. Also, it’s important to stick with your commitment and remember why you’re doing this in the first place–to become an artrepreneur! It’ll be hard at times, but you’ll love seeing that $150 go into your savings account each month.

TIP: As soon as you get paid, put the money you would normally expect to spend into your savings account. Don’t wait until the end of the month. This way, when your friends call you up, you simply don’t have the money. Suggest a new way to hang out, like picking up a cheap bottle of wine and hanging out at home instead!

Find a way to bring in extra money every month and put away what you make

This might be a little tougher if you’re busy working on your creative business in your free-time, but there’s still a possibility it might work for you. Look for new, creative ways to earn extra money every month. Think back to when you were a kid and went to your neighbors asking to clean out their garage or mow their lawn for some cash. Maybe you start walking the dogs in your apartment complex, or maybe you start driving Uber on weekend nights, or maybe you sell your family-famous shortbreads to whoever will buy them! Whatever it is, remember one thing: all the money you make from this activity should be placed into your savings account, immediately.

What tax refund?

If you’re used to planning a trip or buying a special gift with your yearly tax refund, think again! Saving your tax refund can be one of the easiest ways to build up your emergency savings. It’s best think of your tax refund as if it simply doesn’t exist. Don’t rely on your refund to help pay your bills, instead use it as a nice deposit into your emergency savings!

Other tips:

Don’t be afraid to use your emergency fund when you NEED to. It’s there for a reason.

Don’t use your emergency fund unless you NEED to!

Think of your emergency fund as money you don’t really have. Sometimes it can be tempting to dip into your emergency fund when you see a nice $2,000 sitting in your savings account; but remember: it’s not really there, unless there is an emergency.

Keep your emergency savings in a separate account. Consider even keeping it in an account that’s hosted by another bank. That way, when you log into your online checking account, you don’t have to be tempted by it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Always move money into your emergency savings right when you get paid. It’s easy to spend money that’s just sitting there.

How much should you save?

The answer to this question will be different for everyone, but a good rule of thumb is to shoot for 6 months of living expenses before stopping your savings grind. Living expenses includes bills that you must pay every month, like rent, utilities, and groceries. Some entrepreneurs suggest that you have a full year’s worth of savings before quitting your job and taking your business full-time. But don’t be discouraged by these numbers. Even $500 can do a lot when you’re in a pinch. When it comes to emergency savings, anything is better than nothing!

Yeah, it sucks having to give up weekend drinking with your buddies and eating out at your favorite restaurants. But when you know you have money to support you in hard times, the amount of stress you can let go is incomparable. Much of the spending we do alleviates stress in the first place, so get to the root of the problem and develop an emergency fund that can help you feel confident when continuing along your artrepreneurial journey!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get more up-front and honest advice about how to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

3 Misperceptions About Entrepreneurship That Every Artrepreneur Needs to Consider

How many times have you heard the phrase: “I want to be my own boss,” and thought, “Yup, that sounds pretty great!”?

Here at Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet, I’m dedicated to sharing straight-to-the-point information that’s critical for any artrepreneur’s success. That’s why I think it’s important to discuss 3 of the most common misperceptions about the entrepreneurial world.

Photo by Tim Sao Koo

No bosses

How many times have you heard the phrase: “I want to be my own boss,” and thought, “Yup, that sounds pretty great!”? I’m betting lots. Me too. But what I’ve learned in my time counseling entrepreneurs and small business owners at the Nevada Small Business Development Center is that even as a business owner, you will have a boss–the customer. As an entrepreneur, you work for your paying customers and clients. Might sound cheesy, but it’s true. You have to keep the customer happy, because without them, you don’t have a job. Their preferences will decide a lot of what you do, so be ready to work your hardest for them.

Even further than that, when companies become large enough to “go public,” shareholders and board members become the boss, and CEOs must still report to someone. So if being boss-less is your goal, entrepreneurship only gets you so far. My suggestion is to remove this hope from your mind and focus on how you can be the best employee in your company. After all, you are the first employee of your own creative business!

More vacations, Less daily work

Social media and word-of-mouth have somehow engrained in the public the idea that entrepreneurs enjoy a 4-day work week and take vacations whenever they want. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially in the first few years of starting your own business. In fact, most micro-business owners are working an average of 52 hours a week, and Gallup found that 39% of owners work over 60 hours a week. Even further, many millionaire entrepreneurs suggest working 12-16 hours a day in the first few years of building your business.

Obviously, it’s up to the entrepreneur how much they can, and want to work. But most who are successful choose to work at least the typical 40 hours a week that many people think entrepreneurship will help them to escape. If you’re looking to work less, consider designing a lifestyle company that can provide you enough income to cover your expenses, without guaranteeing potential growth. If you’re looking to become the next big name entrepreneur, work on developing a growth company business model that is scalable, and be ready to work hard to grow it!

Entrepreneurs are millionaires

Due to the popularity of a few well-known entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, some people assume that all entrepreneurs are rich. What isn’t so popular is the fact that most entrepreneurs are small business owners, and don’t actually make millions of dollars every year (99% of business are small businesses!). In fact, Sokanu claims that entrepreneur salaries usually range from $10,400 to $129,200. And according to Fox Business, the average is around $68,000 a year. Obviously, the range of entrepreneur salaries is broad–some become millionaires, but some go bankrupt.

This is why it’s important to create a killer business model before embarking on your artrepreneurial journey, and to truly understand whether you are trying to build a lifestyle company or a growth company. Keeping your expectations realistic can help you build the creative business you dream of.

NOTE: I don’t say any of this to discourage you. But I do want you to have a realistic perception of entrepreneurship before deciding to embark on your own artrepreneurial journey. Being an entrepreneur, especially an artrepreneur, is not easy. But for the right people, it can be the perfect fit. Let your WHY drive you, and follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get more straight-up information that will help you along your artrepreneurial journey!

Peace, Kayla