How to Become the Most Successful Artrepreneur You Can Be (Hint: Integrity)

Want to change the world with your creative business? Here’s one thing you’ll need.

Every person who sets out to start their own art-based business has the intention of becoming successful. No one wants to become an artrepreneur just to fail. But when preparing to become a creative entrepreneur, our research is usually limited to how to build a solid business and how to market and how to sell our product. What’s not so popular is discussing the personal strengths that are needed to become a happy, successful entrepreneur.

In my time of learning through University education and real-life business mentorship, one commonality has remained: Integrity is a critical component to becoming a successful business owner who leads change in their business and in the world.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Integrity can be defined in many ways, but three ways have stuck out to me most:

Integrity is doing what you say you’ll do.

Integrity is about doing the right things for the right reasons.

Integrity is present when you act in accordance with the beliefs and values you say you hold.

Most of us like to think that we are good people who have integrity. And that’s usually true. But let’s talk about some situations where good artrepreneurs are faced with challenges to maintaining their integrity:

Reporting income

As an entrepreneur, you’ll be faced with much autonomy when it comes to reporting your own income, especially if you’re taking payments in cash. It can be easy to write everything off, or report less income than you’ve actually received. I’m not here to tell you what is right and wrong, but I am here to encourage you to think about what choice is right for you. A mentor once told me to make decisions under the assumption that every decision would end up on the front page of the New York Times. Silly, considering that the NYT isn’t exactly following my every move. But helpful, because it got me thinking about the kind of person I want to be. Think about what kind of person you want to be when making these types of decisions.

Plagiarizing

This one’s tough, because sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But, there’s a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism. If you make a mistake and realize you’ve plagiarized someone else’s work, just be honest and give them the credit they deserve. This can happen when an artrepreneur brings assistants and other partners in to help with executing projects. Make sure to credit them with the work they’ve done, and be clear about the team that helps make your creative business successful.

How you treat your customers & employees or partners

You’ve probably heard the popular saying that the customer is always right. Obviously, that’s not always true–but customers love when business owners accommodate them anyway. This might look like NOT placing blame on a customer, even when the blame is theirs to take. This might look like being completely honest when you make a mistake, and providing a way to “make it right.” When mistakes happen, entrepreneurs are presented an opportunity to build relationships that will last by showing their customers that they have integrity. Emotions are a huge part of customer loyalty. Appeal to your customers’ emotions by being honest, helpful and genuine.

Another issue that entrepreneurs face is evading the truth or inferring things that aren’t true when they’re in a bind. Sometimes its easier to say nothing than to tell the truth, but this can often hurt your relationship with customers and partners. Again, transparency and honesty are critical for developing and maintaining relationships that are going to help make you a successful artrepreneur.


Integrity is something that’s always growing, with every choice we make. I don’t say these things to assume that you need this advice, or to pretend like I’ve got integrity all figured out. But I’m working on it–I’m committed to choosing integrity. I say these things to give you food for thought that will hopefully help you become an even better artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Here at Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet, it’s all about giving you straight-up, honest, helpful information about the artrepreneurial journey. Follow below for more honest conversations about finding success in your own artrepreneurial journey!

Delivering Value in the Time of Coronavirus

In the time of the Coronavirus, how can you ensure that you are still delivering your value in a way that works for both you and your customers?

As an artrepreneur, delivering value to your customers is one of the most important aspects of your art-based business. Once you’ve taken the time to understand what that value is, you don’t want to self-sabotage by not understanding how you can deliver your value, or how your customers want your value to be delivered. After all, it’s this value which the customers are paying you for.

So in the time of a pandemic, how can you ensure that you are still delivering your value in a way that works for both you and your customers? It depends on what your business is, of course, but here are some tips that will help you evaluate your situation.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

What online options do you have?

At CREATIONS, the creative business that my husband and I founded together, we often like to deliver final videos to clients in person so that we can discuss the project and end off communication on a positive note. However, we do have the option to deliver the final video via the cloud, and have had to take advantage of this tech-based delivery option during the Coronavirus. We also use FaceTime and Zoom to conduct a closing meeting with the client to ensure that communication is positive and complete. Using online resources works well if your final product is digital. Think about how you can take advantage of technology when delivering your value.

If your product needs to be delivered in person, what precautions can you take to avoid close contact?

For many of you, digital transfer won’t work for delivering your product. So how can you deliver your product in person without putting anyone at risk? Consider using mail services to send out finished products. If you’re product is too fragile to mail, consider front door drop off for local customers. Either way, you’ll want to include a note of some sort that thanks the customer for their service and expresses your regret for not being present at the time of delivery. Let your customers know that you are really trying during this time of separation and that you are there for them should they have any concerns or questions.

If you cannot deliver your value now, how can you maintain communication with the customer until you can?

What if neither of the two previous options works for delivering your value? If this is the case, you’ll need to be upfront and honest with your customers right away. Make sure you have some kind of contact information for every customer so that you can stay in communication with them. Don’t bother them, but keep communication consistent and ensure them that you’ll be able to deliver your value once bans are lifted.

How can you adjust the way you communicate with customers in order to maintain the relationship?

In each of these three scenarios, communication with your customers is key. Maintain a tone of urgency, but make sure that your communication and interest is genuine. Ensure that your customers feel like their needs come first, and do your best to bend over backward for them. During this time of silent chaos, customers will remember the companies who did their best to serve them. Think about what additional, helpful value you can bring to them during this time. Maybe you include an extra feature or product, or maybe you give a small discount so that they can continue purchasing from you and other small business. At the end of the day, delivering your value is all about making sure that the customer is happy, so think about what you can do to make their day a little better.

Stay persistent and strong-willed during the time of the Coronavirus. Be honest and genuine with your customers. Creative businesses that keep their customers first and continue delivering a strong value will come out of this pandemic with loyal clients and new insights that might change how their value is delivered forever.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to access helpful information as you continue developing your creative business during the time of the Coronavirus!

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!

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!