If you want to become a successful art business entrepreneur, then there’s three critical components you have to have in place: a solid business plan, an implementation plan (nope, those two aren’t the same thing!), and the mindset of an artrepreneur.
I often focus on the first two elements—creating a solid business plan and implementing that business plan—but today I want to tackle the third piece:
What does having an entrepreneurial mindset actually look like when you’re launching and growing your creative business, and how can you adjust your art business mindset to set yourself up for success?
Ready to find out? Read on!
1) Successful artists are willing to invest in their businesses
Okay, let’s talk about what “investing” in your business actually means, because this is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and it gets confusing!
An expense is something that you buy, use up, and then it’s gone… with very little effect on your long-term goals. Paper for your printer, the pens you bought, the coffee-stand beverage you bought this morning… will any of those purchases positively change your bottom-line or help you make more sales? Probably not—so that’s why we call it an expense and not an investment.
Investing in your business means spending money on services or products that help your business succeed in a tangible way.
That can mean investing in things like:
A professional website with clear navigation and a gallery to showcase and sell your artwork
Professional headshot photos of yourself and photos of your art to showcase your work
Software or services that help you keep in touch with your audience or manage the sales journey for your collectors (like email marketing or client relationship management subscription services)
A personal assistant or other staff members who can take care of minor business tasks for you (even if it’s just a few hours a week to start), so that you can spend more time on creating artwork and making sales
Training and coaching that help you run your business more efficiently and confidently (like working with me through The LAB)
To put it bluntly, investment is what happens when you realize you can’t DIY everything in your business, and you start using the skills and expertise of other people or services to help you reach your goals.
Now, let me just say that I am all for doing a lean-startup—that’s the system I teach and I’d never encourage an artrepreneur to make an investment that they truly can’t afford.
But at some point, you have to make the transition from a “starving artist” mindset to a growth-based mindset, which means realizing that you can and should take advantage of the resources available to you.
2) Successful artists have a growth and reflection-based mindset
A lot of the mindset business advice out there for new entrepreneurs focuses on the “think positive” and “visualize your outcomes” aspect of mindset.
That’s all well and good and I’m not saying you shouldn’t do that. However…
If you want to build a successful art business, do the mindset work to back up all that positive thinking and visualization with deliberate reflection and action-taking!
Instead of just “thinking positive,” take the time to review your goals and evaluate whether they’re still serving you. If they’re not, it’s time to update them!
If you’re not making progress on your goals, what’s happening? This can often be related to a mindset issue: Are you afraid of missing out on an opportunity, so you’re spreading your time and effort too thin? Are you feeling resistance, and consequently playing small and not allowing yourself to take risks?
Are you asking for help when you encounter a new task or situation that is challenging? Shame and “I should already know how to do this” are powerful motivators to not ask for the answers you need—but if you’ve never gotten training, you literally cannot solve these problems yourself without a lot of trial and error, and that sets you up for needless frustration.
The most successful artists I know regularly review their goals and progress, pay attention to what their internal “voice” is saying, and surround themselves with people who can—because they are just a few steps further ahead in building their own businesses—offer solid support and advice.
3) Successful artists push themselves out of their comfort zones
I meet far too many artists who want to stay hidden behind their easels or computer screens, and just aren’t comfortable putting themselves and their work out there.
You know what? I totally get it. It’s scary!
It’s hard to promote yourself and your work without feeling like you’re being overly needy or braggy, and not knowing what kind of reaction you’re going to get from your audience.
But you know what? If you don’t take the risk, you’ll never get positive attention and gain a following.
If you want to build a thriving art business and get sales, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and promote yourself.
Unfortunately, success doesn’t “just happen,” and no one will share your work or spread your message without you doing the groundwork of gathering an audience, creating your own marketing materials, and searching for the opportunities available to you.
I’ve worked with hundreds of artists over the years in my role as a Business + PR Strategist, coach, confidant, and de facto business partner, and as a result I’ve had the chance to see what works and what doesn’t.
So trust me when I say that at the end of the day, it’s the artists who push themselves in these areas who go on to build successful art businesses.
I want that for you too! So go back and review the points above and think about where your mindset could use a little tuning up.
Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!