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.
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:
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.
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.
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!