Taking the step to start your art business or any business is huge and scary. I know exactly how you feel because I was right where you are. I have learned a few things along the way and honestly, still learning so I wanted to do a series of blog posts to share a few things I wish I knew before starting my business.
First things first. I am by no means an expert in running a business and I am continually learning and growing, but in the 6 years since starting my business I have learned some things that I hope will help you with your art journey/small business.
It is hard to believe that this October will be six years since I took that leap of faith to start my business. I didn't have a clue what I was doing, and I was fairly new on social media. It was a internal struggle to just go for it due to a severe case of imposter syndrome, but with some encouragement from a friend, I took the plunge.
Just Do It!
My tip is to just go for it. Don't over think it, don't wait until you are "good enough" and don't wait until _________ (fill in the blank with whatever excuse you are telling yourself). If I waited to start my business until I was a better painter or had a business plan I probably would still be waiting. I don't want that for you. Life is too short to put your dreams on hold.
Shouldn't I have a business plan before starting my business?
Well, yes and no. Hear me out as I explain my answer. In my case and maybe yours, I had no experience in starting a business so the process of creating a business plan was foreign to me, and I didn't have the resources to hire someone to help me build one. But guess what? By creating a website and getting a business license it put me in the right mindset to take my art seriously. I showed up in my small space of a studio to paint everyday, I read books, and I listened to podcasts. There have been failures for sure (that is how we learn) but there has been growth. Maybe not as rapidly as I would have liked, but growth none the less.
Ok, so what about experience and skill? One should make sure their work is "good" right?
Let's think about this for a few. How do you measure "good"? How long would it take you to find yourself "good enough"? In my experience, I continue to question my work...it's normal and it motivates me to grow and get better. It isn't a reason that should stop you from chasing your dream because we are harsh critics with ourselves and we will always struggle with imposter syndrome. Trust me, even some of the greatest artists have had these days of doubt.
I'm here to tell you that your work is good and it will continue to improve with time, but you have to keep painting. Before I started my business, I painted very casually as I felt inspired or didn't have anything better to do, but once I committed to an art biz, my mindset changed. I started painting collections, and my skill improved.
What about my voice...I don't know what I want to paint?
Just like skill, you will find your voice through the process. Just start painting. I started out painting farm animals because I was new with raising a flock of chickens and I dreamed of living on a farm (still dream about this). Then I tried landscapes, people, still-life, and flowers. I was all over the place switching what I thought my focus should be. Just within the last year or two, I realized that my voice is to celebrate the joy of everyday life that is inspired by nature... a common element with what I had been painting. Starting your business doesn't mean you will have immediate success with sales and visibility, but if you are figuring out who you are, what inspires you, and growing your skill as you chase your dream, then the time you've invested in your dream wasn't a waste.
Choosing to chase your dream and starting your art/creative business is part of your journey. There will be twists and turns, ups and downs, road blocks that will have you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. It will make you want to quit some days and it will motivate you other days. This, too, is normal. When you are feeling the lows or encounter a road block, intentionally remind yourself that it's normal, growth is happening, and tomorrow will be better. Be patient with yourself, give yourself grace, and enjoy the process.
If you have found this post helpful, I would love to hear from you in the comments. Let's chat and support one another through this beautiful, hard, rewarding journey.