Growth company vs. Lifestyle company: Which is right for your art-based business?

Understanding the differences between a growth company and a lifestyle company is critical in building your art-based business, so let’s dive deeper into what each is and which is right for you.

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

So you want to start a creative business in order to start making money by doing what you love. You want to become an artrepreneur! But what kind of company do you want to create? The topic of growth and lifestyle companies has been critical in this blog, so let’s dive deeper into what each is and which is right for you.

Growth companies vs. Lifestyle companies?

Think: Disney vs. Your favorite local business

Think about how a company like Disney differs from a locally-based, small company. Their target market is bigger, operations are geographically spread, and costs to run the company are huge. The more people who watch their movies and go to their theme parks, the more money they make. However, a common misperception about these types of growth companies is that they are always super profitable, which isn’t the case. As a smaller company, your favorite local business has less costs to cover and more direct access to the local market. Which one is more profitable depends on how much revenue each business brings in, in comparison to the amount of money they spend.

For example: A growth company might make $100 million dollars in 2019, but perhaps they spent $150 million in the same year. This growth company is not profitable. On the other hand, a lifestyle company might make $500k dollars in 2019, and only spend $50k in the same year. This lifestyle company is wildly profitable.

In deciding if you should pursue a growth company or a lifestyle company, scalability is the most important consideration. Scalability refers to how big and widespread your company can potentially grow. If you’re a painter who provides super-large, high end murals to wealthy customers, you might only have 10 clients a year. And since you are your product, meaning that its your skillful art that is being paid for, you can’t hire just anyone to complete the client’s request. Your goal here isn’t scalability, its to make more money with every client as time progresses. Maybe you start with charging $10k for a mural, then $20k, then 40k, and so on until one day you are making $500k per mural. That’s the ideal kind of growth for a lifestyle company.

A growth company, on the other hand, often includes a product of some sort that can be duplicated and reproduced as many times as the number of customers wanting it. Think about Disney again. The more times people watch one of their movies, the more money they make. Or think about authors. The more copies that are sold of one book, the more money they and their partners make. These are examples of businesses that become ultra-successful based on scalability.

For example: If you’re starting a comic book company, your growth is going to come from numbers: how many copies or subscriptions can you sell? Unless you create custom comic books as gifts for hundreds of dollars… In that case, you want to scale up your paycheck, like the muralist we just discussed–you want to pursue a lifestyle company. Not surprisingly, this creative business is meant to support you, and your lifestyle.

NOTE: It’s important to understand that lifestyle companies can become growth companies in the future. In fact, you should always be thinking about opportunities to create a scalable aspect of your business. By doing this, your business can make money that’s not directly related to your amount of working hours. Now, your company can work even while you don’t, and can potentially transform into growth company.

For example: Imagine if, in addition to high-end custom murals, the muralist decided to create mural duplicates that could be applied to walls via adhesive by the customers themselves. The muralist could create 5 designs and then try to sell as many as possible via an online store or offline retailer. The more duplicates the muralist sells, the more money they make. This would be an interesting way to add scalability to their creative business.

So why is this so important? Because it’s going to set your expectations and help you understand how to create the appropriate business model for your future creative business.

Start thinking about lifestyle and growth companies, and try to decide which would be best for you and your artrepreneurial vision!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

Resources To Help You Understand Your Ideal Customer

“Know thyself” is one of the most important pieces of advice for artrepreneurs who are starting to build their creative business and brand. But advice I think is just as important — “Know thy customer.”

Photo by Zane Aveton

“Know thyself” is one of the most important pieces of advice for artrepreneurs who are starting to build their creative business and brand. But advice I think is just as important — “Know thy customer.” Your customer is the heart of your business and the one who will recognize and pay for your value. So, it’s time to learn about thy customers!

Before starting your research, jot down some ideas or hypotheses you might have about who your ideal customer is. Include demographics (age, gender, location, family size, etc.) and psychographics (interests, hobbies, buying preferences, etc.). These hypotheses will help guide your research.

So where can you go to research your potential customers?

Census data

The United States Census Bureau has tons of demographic information that can be crucial for your research. Want to market to individuals who make over a certain amount of money? This data source can tell you which zip codes have the most of this type of consumers. Want to market to families? This data source can tell you about households that report having kids. There’s a lot of information here, so just take some time to browse around and make sure to copy and paste information helpful information into your own research document.

Free services from America’s SBDC

I might be a bit biased here, considering that I work for the organization, but the nationwide Small Business Development Center is such an amazing, free resource. Not only can you work with counselors on every aspects of your business, but some centers also help with research work. For example, in my office at the Nevada SBDC in Reno, we have access to databases that provide us specialized, in-depth information that could be crucial for developing your business model. We receive access to reports from hundreds of databases that provide information that would normally costs a pretty penny to obtain. There are SBDCs all around the country, so visit this page to find one near you!

Free market reports

Mintel is a highly respected data source that provides research on all kinds of markets and people. Single reports can cost up to $5,000, but Mintel offers some reports for free. Check out this page to see if they have free information that might be helpful for you. For example, Mintel is currently featuring two free reports titled GLOBAL BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE TRENDS and THE AUSTRALIAN CONSCIOUS CONSUMER. These titles might seem quite specific, but if you’re targeting these particular industries or markets, these reports could be a huge win for you. There are more reports and resources, so go check it out for yourself!

You can also use sites like Quora to get a better idea of trending topics and opinions of those who you think are your target market. This kind of research is less structured and takes a bit more digging, but can be helpful nonetheless.

Surveys

If you have an idea about who your target market is and want to learn more about their preferences, surveys are a good way to collect that information. Of course, you have to actually get your survey to your potential customers, so think about how you are able to reach them. SurveyMonkey is a popular service that can be used to deliver surveys, along with Google Forms (which is free!).

If your survey is going out to people you do not know the age, gender, location, etc. of, it can be helpful to collect this information as part of the survey. You want to make sure you understand the demographics of your potential target market. Other important questions to ask might be: “How do you access ____?” or “How much would you pay for ____? or even “When do you think about/buy ____?” Try using scales and multiple choice options to get more clear and concise answers. The goal of this survey should be to understand the habits and preferences of your customers. From this exercise, you want to learn how and when to reach them.

Google’s Consumer Barometer

Google provides some free resources that can help you understand your ideal customer, such as the Consumer Barometer. This tool helps you learn about how your potential target market behaves online. Understanding how your potential customers use the internet is critical for tailoring your marketing strategies and business model around their habits and preferences.


Once you feel like you have a good grasp on who your potential target markets might be, consider creating a customer profile for each type of person you want to market/sell to. An example might look like this:

Tonya: Tonya is a stay at home mom who is apart of a household that makes over $100K per year. Her average age is 38 years old. She loves fashion and is drawn to exclusive purchases. She likes to show off her purchases to friends and family. She loves her kids and even spoils them. She exercises often and engages in repeated purchases. Once she finds a brand she likes, she sticks with it. She is very active on Pinterest and Facebook, but doesn’t seem to bother with other social media platforms. She acts as the decision maker in her house when it comes to travel decisions, household products, and purchases for the kids. She likes to online shop, but often engages in weekend shopping trips with friends.

As a mural creator, Tonya might be a great target customer for you. Knowing as much as you can about her helps you to understand where to reach her and how to express your value to her in a way that will convince her to buy.


Do some research of your own and then try creating a customer profile for your potential customer type(s)!

NOTE: Some businesses might have multiple target markets. For example, as a mural creator, you might offer high-end home murals to well-off families and fun, funky murals to small businesses. Learn about each and understand how your value and marketing shifts between them.

Research might not be your favorite, but try challenging yourself to find new ways to understand your potential customers. The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to communicate and work with them. You’ve got this!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet 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

Building a Brand Around Your Art

Building a brand around your art is a crucial step in developing your very own art-based business!

Whether you want to be a popular freelancer or the CEO of your dream creative company, building a brand around your art is a crucial step in developing your business. We brushed the surface on how to build a brand in this article, but maybe you need some more time developing a brand that’s truly what you envision. Good. Building a brand is one of the most important things you can do to ensure long-term success in your artrepreneurship endeavor.

As a refresher, there are two questions you must answer that will act as the core of your brand: What is your value? and What is your messaging?

Your Value = Your customer’s problem + Your solution

Your value revolves around the problem you’re helping to solve for your customers. Are you providing them a way to reach more customers? A way to share their feelings or overcome obstacles? A way to build or share their own brand? Get specific. What problem is your customer facing, and how do you help them solve it?

Your Message = Your value + Your customers’ personality

Cool. You have a good understanding of what value you provide. Now, you need to think about how you’re going to communicate that value with your potential customers. The key here is: your potential customers. To understand what kind of messaging will appeal to them, you must UNDERSTAND THEM. Who are they? What do they like? Where do they frequent? Who are their friends? Who do they ask for advice? What kind of image do they try to portray? Who do they want to be? Try to understand what motivates and interests your potential customers, so that you can communicate with them accordingly.

Once you understand your customers better, you’ll know more about how to approach them. For example, should your brand be casual or super professional? Artsy, modern, or classy? Fun, relaxed, or serious? The easiest way to answer this question is to look at your potential customers and think about their image. Are they casual or super professional? Artsy, modern, or classy? Fun, relaxed, or serious? People have a tendency to be drawn to what is like them, so you should try your best to make your brand reflect them and everything they want to be.

Your Brand = Your value + Your messaging (in action!)

Now that you have an idea of what your value is and how you’re going to share that value in a way that is familiar and interesting to your potential customers, create a document that captures the core of your brand. Make a list of keywords that relate to your customers’ key problem. Write out some words that reflect the “vibe” of your brand. Jot down some sentences that feature the popular language of your target customer. This document is SUPER important and will serve as the core of your efforts from here on out. If something doesn’t fit in or match your brand document, don’t say it or do it. This document will help guide you as you continue to build and share your brand and business.

Lastly, you should also develop a brand or mood board that features the visual elements your brand. What kinds of fonts, colors, and other visual elements capture the brand you’ve described in your brand document? Here’s an example of the branding board I created for CREATIONS Film, the creative company my husband and I founded together:

Branding Board Example for CREATIONS Film created by Kayla Banda

Remember: Building a brand is a commitment, not just a one-and-done brainstorming session. Visualizing your brand is one thing (that’s what we’ve done here). But actually creating that brand takes time as you market, work with customers, and build an online and offline community. Use this brainstorming session as a guide to help you make decisions and continue building your art-based business!

Create your own branding document and branding board, and share about your experience below!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get fresh, new content as you work on building your very own creative company!