Top 10 Things a Newbie Arts Entrepreneur Needs to Know

#10 Just because you have discovered you have a great idea for a business does not mean it’s the right one to act on.  Most first generation ideas need a major overhaul before they become truly solid ideas worth heavily investing in. This is not to say first generation ideas should not be tried, tested and launched. They should, but on a very controlled small scale to use as way to learn how your original idea can evolve into the right one.

#9 The majority of artists who you have studied with,  as well a whom you admire and respect for their many accomplishments, typically have little to no idea how to develop an income stream on their own. Most work as an educator- an employee- for a University, or have “won” their positions and not had the time or interest in venturing far outside of those opportunities. While these folks are ESSENTIAL to your artistic development they are not the best resource for entrepreneurial development.

#8 Expect to encounter resistance from family and friends first. While it seems hard to imagine, most entrepreneurs receive little support from those closest to them when they begin to talk in detail about the idea in their head. Those who know you best are likely not going to, at first, be your biggest supporter. Typically this is because they love and care about you and don’t want to see you get hurt. Additionally, most are not entrepreneurs themselves so they don’t know how to help you shape your idea either. It is best to find a skilled entrepreneur to use as a sounding board instead of those closest to you.

#7 As soon as you possibly can, start sharing your business idea with anyone you think could be a potential customer.  The fastest way to learn where objections lie to your business model, or get your first order more quickly than you thought, is from those most likely to use it. Learning from their comments  is an essential early part of becoming an arts entrepreneur.  Besides, it’s also a great way to develop the thick skin you need to face criticism and rejection.

#6 With the exception of inventions, or anything that can have patents, don’t spend too much time worrying that your idea will be stolen. Often young entrepreneurs worry that if they tell too many people about what they are creating someone else will come into the market and take it from them. Indeed, if your idea is really great, eventually, no matter what, someone will steal it. Every good idea I have ever had has been stolen in fact. Think of it as a badge of creative honor.  What I have come to learn however, is that you CANNOT copy an original. If you execute with originality,  don’t worry about it.  Your originality will shine through, and you will get your fair share of the business that is drawn to you. And if you continue to innovate your product or service, everyone will know you were the original anyways.

#5  The biggest mistakes arts entrepreneurs make launching a creative enterprise are right out of the gate. Enthusiasm and passion are potent deadly weapons in the life of a young start-up because they delude you into thinking you have it all figured out. Just because you are skilled artist does not mean you have the skills to be an entrepreneur. If it were that easy to do, everyone would be doing it. However, because you are an artist you already possess many of the essential skills an entrepreneur needs. You have the ability to create and a need for autonomy. As you begin the process of becoming an arts entrepreneur accept that there is a lot you don’t know; just like when you began your studies as an artist. Seek out the best possible resources you can find to help you learn how to move through the beginning of your venture.

#4 It takes money to make money. While it may not take a lot to start a business, you need some money. Enough to get a website up and pay for it to keep running. You need enough money to have a working phone. You need enough to buy or create your product or service and deliver it to your first few customers. From there the goal is for cash flow to have improved enough to use the profits you created to continue to operate and serve more customers.

#3 If you think you work hard now as an artist, except to work twice or three times as hard, at first, as you become an arts entrepreneur.  You will spend the first two to three years working non-stop on building your business. This may mean your artistry suffers, at first, or that you will have to downgrade your lifestyle and lead a bare bones existence to help your idea become a reality. Arts entrepreneurs live a few years of their lives like most people won’t so they can spend the rest of their lives living like most people can’t.

#2 Do it Yourself! The more you can do for yourself the easier it will be for you to test and shape your idea. Create your own website. Produce your own You Tube marketing videos. Write your own press releases. Design your own image and identity. You are your brand and you and your brand must be in harmony for people to ” get you and your idea.” If your website sounds completely different than you do in person, your audience will disconnect from you and vice versa. Consistently BE your brand online and in person.

#1 The appearance of coincidence and irony in your life,  are THE most important signs that will help you know that you are on the right path in your entrepreneurial development. You will know your idea is starting to gel with the right crowd when coincidence and irony start popping up around your new venture.  However, coincidence and irony take time to appear. It might be 6 months or a year before you see them show up. Beginnings are always hard work and hard work often does not show a return for a period of up to a year. If at first they are not appearing- which likely they won’t- pay attention when they do in other parts of your life and see how you can tie those into your new business– it at all possible.  I have found consistently that where there is a coincidence, there is usually an opportunity to leverage something positive in my business. Coincidence and irony are occurring in my life on a daily basis now. It is no coincidence either that my businesses and brands are equally thriving.

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