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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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!

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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3 Easy Ways to Build Contacts in Your Artrepreneurial Network

Here are 3 easy ways to build contacts in your creative space, even during the time of the Coronavirus.

#1 Take advantage of free resources in your community

Free? That’s right, free! In every state there are organizations that exist for the sole purpose of stimulating the local economy through small business growth. One of these organizations is very dear to my heart: the Small Business Development Center!

Myself, Kayla Banda, providing free business counseling to an SBDC client – Photo courtesy of the Nevada SBDC

Small Business Development Centers are non-profit organizations that exist all over the country. There are 13 in Nevada alone! At the SBDC, business counselors are waiting to help you develop your business model, find funding, develop marketing strategies, assist in your research, and ultimately help you grow your creative business! All you have to do is sign up and make an appointment. Not only do counselors act as your business advisors, but they can help connect you with the rest of your local entrepreneurial community. So click here to locate an SBDC near you!

Another nationwide organization that provides business advising for free is SCORE. Their team consists of retired executives who have extensive experience in all kinds of industries. Check out this site to see if there is a SCORE counselor in your area who has the experience you need.

NOTE: Both organizations are offering virtual counseling through the time of the Coronavirus.

#2 Find out who the leaders in your industry are and connect with them on social media

Social media offers a great way to stay in the loop on all things happening in your field. Find and follow your industry members and experts to start building relationships with them and learning from the content they post. Work hard to engage with them authentically.

But first, make sure that you are providing helpful content on your social media pages so to encourage others to follow you. If you’re a painter, maybe you post content about your process or mistakes/lessons you’ve learned that could be helpful for others. Give people a reason to remember you so that when you meet them in person, they’re already familiar with you and the value you bring.

Social media is a great way to learn about in-person events that are happening, especially in your area. If one of your favorite local artists is hosting a gallery, go and support them. If an expert in your field is hosting a webinar, join! Supporting your local network is the easiest way to get support back.

#3 Go to local events in your creative space

Again, supporting your local artrepreneurial community is one of the best ways to gain trust with potential contacts in your field. When you support others, they’re more likely to support you. Try to maintain a benevolent spirit, meaning that you are there to truly support them. Keep a learning attitude–you never know what tidbit of advice might be a huge learning lesson for you in your artrepreneurial journey. One of the easiest ways to find local events is to search online for people and organizations in your field and stay up-to-date with the information they post. Often they will share information on events, meet-ups, and openings.

Connecting with potential customers, mentors, and partners is a huge part of developing your artrepreneurial network–but you must stay genuine! People are much more willing to work with others who they feel are benevolent, well-meaning, and honest. So try your best to support without a hidden agenda. Ego is not welcome here!

Remember: Building a network takes time and benefits are not always immediate. Stay with it. Becoming a recognized name in any community takes time and effort, so consider this a strategy for the long-haul.

Peace, Kayla

Challenge! Visit your social media pages right now and start searching for local members of your creative field–they can be people or organizations. Then, think about the value you can offer them through your own social media page. These two steps are the core of starting to develop your artrepreneurial network and can be done now, even in the time of COVID-19.

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!