11 Things to Help Artistpreneurs Make More Money When Starting a Business

Business Coaching for Flow Artists
Artists: GlitterGirl & Zihni
Photo: Sari Blum

As the 13 year anniversary of Temple of Poi approaches, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons learned over the years and how excited I am to be sharing them in the upcoming teacher and business training courses. While pondering things to share throughout the training, I got so excited I decided to share these 11 Things to Help Artistpreneurs Make More Money When Starting a Business. Enjoy.

  • Confidence wins clients. It makes sense to question your abilities when you start a business. Even if you’ve been in business before, each endeavor is a little different and part of the excitement of a new business is a bit of the thrill of the uncertainty: can I make this work? The first piece of coaching I have to say is to reframe that sentence, and instead of asking if you can make it work, ask, how can you make it work? Believe and be confident that you can and you will inspire the confidence in people to invest in your offering.
  • Creative solutions garner more earnings. It seems obvious when you think about it because flexibility allows you to work with more clients. The trick to this is to remember, in the early phases of your company especially when you’re exuberant and energized, honor yourself fully too. In my early days, I made some bad trades with people that just didn’t quite work out for me. I learned through time how to create better opportunities by ensuring I knew my boundaries clearly and enforced them articulately.
  • Win-Win (win-win). You, me, community, environment. Let’s find solutions where everyone gets (most of) what they want by being flexible and co-creative with the idea that we can all win is an underlying shared belief in communication. For example, if I’m getting booked as a performer, I want to make sure the client is getting a quality show and I’m getting paid enough — you, me. I also want to make sure the work I’m presenting leaves the community reputation as good as I found it, if not better (in service of the community itself) and, as I’m doing this, I want to respect the environment around me to ensure harmonious, sustainable experiences. For example, spinning fuel out into the soil on a farm is not a win for the environment while spinning out into zip lock baggies is!
  • 9 words: I don’t know but I’ll get back to you. Humility is a powerful means of interpersonal relating. No one likes a smarty pants that makes you feel stupid, or the jock picking on the scrawny kid. Giving yourself permission to not know will, perhaps surprisingly, inspire confidence from clients, particularly after you get back to them with a good answer. Your follow-up demonstrates you care enough to spend that time on them which feels good in most relationships. In fact, in some cases it can be more impressive to the client when you follow-up than it might have been if you had everything available immediately because you’re demonstrating your skills not only ultimately answering their question but the attention to detail necessary to remember to follow up as well.
  • People are paying for an experience. As an artist, some of the business we do is about our product or service explicitly — a commissioned garment, a forged prop, lessons and performances especially. These things are the obvious part of the equation. What goes with the products and services you’re offering is your time, energy and attention directed at your clients in a way that allows you to customize you’re offering to fulfill not just the explicit terms of the contract but also, a (hopefully memorable) journey along the way.
  • Get their card. This may be the most useful and profitable tip of all. I’ve gone to tons of events over the years and met people to whom I gave my card (and you should have a powerful business card to be sure!), fully expecting they would get in touch with me afterward — why ask for a card if you’re not going to use it, right? Unfortunately, there is not a 100% response rate on that sort of thing; I’d be surprised if it was 50%, in fact. To help make sure you can follow-up and keep the connection alive, in important situations, ask them for their card and you’ll never have a missed connection again!
  • Proactive care engenders loyalty. As a child I was taught to send thank you notes and, not surprisingly, the pleasant feelings people get from such affirmations translate to adulthood. In a world full of uncertainty, it can create comfort for clients when you reach out to them unexpectedly and support their growth. Maybe you shared a story relevant to a conversation you had in class or a reference article about an injury they are working through or following up with a link to something you offer to help them find it on your website. whatever it is, you reaching out and showing them that you’re in service of them without them having to ask is another fantastic way to create more loyalty which often leads to more revenue.
  • The early bird catches the worm. Translated to our business, this often means: The early bid garners the gig. This is especially relevant for gigs and commissioned goods because there is so much competition in these areas. I’ve lost more gigs than I’d preferred simply because I didn’t get back to them before they built a relationship with someone else and already made a purchasing decision. You may not want to answer every call that comes in on your business line but you certainly want to be as prompt as possible returning phone calls (and emails) even when you are screening them.
  • You can write (just about) everything off on your taxes (at least in the USA). It certainly doesn’t mean you’re spending less money when you go out and purchase things, but the good news is, performers get a lot of write off possibilities. We recommend you find an accountant that specializes in tax avoidance and inquire about the legal ways to make sure you get the most out of your itemized deductions. It’s what corporations do — why not also benefit from tax laws? And, if you haven’t been, start saving your receipts today — for everything. Better to have the receipt and eliminate it later than not have the receipt and forget to write it off.
  • In the beginning especially, you are your best sales rep. There’s this time in a company in the very beginning where no one really knows who you are or what you do. If you’re like many business owners I’ve known, you spend a lot of time telling people what you do. In fact, you may be the only one sharing your marketing because you may be running a soloprenuership with no one else to assist you. What this means is that you should get comfortable selling your self, products and services because if you can’t comfortably command payment, you’ll have a hard time getting paid. This also means you have to be comfortable with the idea of making money off your work.
  • Your clients are your best marketing agents. As you complete work for clients, be sure to follow up and ask them about their experience. If it was positive and exceptional, it’s worth taking the time to ask them if they’ll write a reference for your business on Yelp or give you a separate testimonial. You may even want to incentivize them sharing your work with others through loyalty programs, credits, discounts, product, services and even cash back. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful — we got 95% of all our clients in the first 9 months via word of mouth.

We’ll be discussing many more tips and tricks like these in our upcoming Building Your Business training as well as more sales and client relationship skills in the upcoming Flow Instructor Training. Sign up now (class starts in 2 week over Google Hangouts!) for one of these programs to support your growth as a business person, instructor and flowprenuer.

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