If you follow my posts, you know that I’m passionate about approaching art as a business, especially if you want to make a career of it. The problem is, business is a huge area to cover. Where do you start? People go to school for at least four years to learn the basics of how to build and manage a company. When you’re starting as an artist, with no or little formal business training, it’s a huge task to take on.
Fortunately, you don’t need a full business degree to approach your career in the arts as an entrepreneur. You don’t have to learn everything to be successful. However, there are five areas of business that deserve at least a basic understanding if you want to be more effective as a creative entrepreneur.
You don’t need a degree in accounting, or even a paid accountant, to keep an accurate record of your expenses and income as a professional artist. Develop a budget, keep records, and research any tax laws that apply to your work. Learn how to make the most of your available resources, and how to maximize your income.
You need to know how to reach out to your target audience (the people who are most likely to enjoy–and pay for–your work). You need an active online presence, both through a website and through social media. Make it easy for people to find you. Engage with your audience on a regular basis. Ask them to share your page with their own followers.
Organization and Management
Business tasks aren’t as exciting as dancing and pursuing your art, but you still need to complete them. It’s important to know the basics of how to run a business. Keep accurate records. Set up a business schedule to help you manage these tasks. Seek out learning opportunities and mentors to help guide you along the way. Developing management skills allow you to operate more efficiently, both as an artist and as an entrepreneur.
Artists need to know how to communicate, whether it’s with their audience, venue managers, press, or anyone else they interact with on a professional level. Having strong communication skills will help every time you sit down to negotiate a contract, talk to prospective team members, or set up a new event.
Businesses are organic. They need care to grow. They need regular time and attention, but they also need funding and support. Surround your business with the people who support you. Learn how to apply for grants and other funding options. Learn about crowdsourcing. Knowing how to pick the best funding option for any given project is an essential part of making it as a dance professional.
As you continue on as a creative entrepreneur, you’ll gain more understanding in all five of these key areas. For now, seek out online resources (reputable blogs and free online courses are both great options), watch for community classes or workshops on small business and entrepreneurship, or join local business groups. The more you put yourself out there as an entrepreneur, the easier it will be for you to approach your art as an entrepreneur, too.