“Without Profit, your business will die.”
There is a reason that some artists are successful in business, and some are not. The successful ones put effort into learning, and applying, business sense when running their business.
Sadly, the quality of art you produce only plays a small part of your success. More important than the art is your business skills.
What is often missed by creative entrepreneurs is the importance of treating their art business like a business.
“Oh, but I only paint part-time” you say. Or “I’m just getting started.” Or “I love what I do too much to call it a business.”
YOU are your business; you are the brand; you are the “company” selling your art to the world.
Even if it’s part-time, or you’re just out of school, or you aren’t feeling like a professional, to get to any level of success, you must TREAT YOUR ART BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS.
All businesses, even yours, must have the following three components to be successful:
1 – Cash Flow (money coming in)
2 – Profit (your money from sales minus your expenses = profit)
Without Profit, your business will die. Or, in other words, if you aren’t making a profit, then what you have is a hobby. (Not a bad thing, but be aware of the difference)
3 – Vision for the future (know what you want, and write it down, set goals)
When you make the decision to treat your business like a business, your mental thoughts will change to stay in line with that decision.
Every project, commission or job that you accept from a client, you will create the intention of generating cash flow and a profit.
And when you think that way, you WILL create cash flow and profit.
I’ll give you an example: Today someone asked my artist husband, Drew, and I to give a painting lesson to kids at a surfing/skating event. It would be a volunteer thing on our end.
In our early days, we saw these things as “promotional” and a way to “give back” and be generous. Back then, we would say “YES” enthusiastically and cover our costs, do the work, and hope that we got business from it later.
But, that was before we knew how to properly grow a healthy business!
Now, we are very experienced with doing live events; and we know that TO DO IT RIGHT, just showing up will cost us about $500 in materials, expenses and travel. The work and preparation required for a memorable two hour event takes about 3 hours (if you do it right), and then after the event, it’s another 2 hours to clean up, pack up and go home.
Now, I don’t know about you, but, my own family wants me with them on a Saturday! If I’m going to work on the weekend, I want to be paid for it.
If we run this event, we will be leaving our own kids for the day (they have their own life and don’t like working with us!) We will be working hard, and then to get a day off, we would have to postpone other projects that paying clients have hired us to do.
So, what does a person who runs their business like a business do with such an “opportunity”?
They would look for a solution to getting paid, or they would choose to take a pass on it. Immediately, my mind went to these questions:
How do I generate cash flow and profit if I do this event?
My mind found a solution: Get sponsors to pay us for our time. The sponsors could be skateboard or surfboard companies, or art supply companies. If we can get two sponsors to split our fee, then we can do it and feel great about it. And if we can’t find sponsors to pay us for it, then we take a pass on it.
If we do get paid to do it, we are able to give generously to the local kids, our own children benefit (when we get paid, it benefits our family), and we make the sponsors look good.
It’s a win-win for everyone. No-one loses, not even the artists!
If you get in the habit of always asking the question “where is the cash flow, where is the profit” your mind will find solutions to get you paid properly for every product, event, project or commission.
This is just one little adjustment you can make to transform your art business today.
Sometimes, making a tiny, mental mind shift can take you from a “starving” artist to a “savvy, successful” artist!
(Read this article for more tips on generating profit and cash flow: Should you go into Debt to sell your Art? )
Please, share in the comments, how have you created extra cash flow and profit for your own business?