On Thursday evening hundreds of business people from across South Wiltshire and the Salisbury area gathered together in the city hall for the SW business of the year awards. I’m delighted to announce that I made it as a finalist in the Enterprising Women in Business category.
I am reliably told Enterprising woman in business was hotly contested and had a record number of entrants this year. Since becoming a finalist having the photos done and chatting to so many people there are several questions that have come up time and time again primarily based on
“ So how does an artist actually make any money?” So I thought outline a few of the Q&A is that I’ve had over the past few days…
WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
I was a teacher for 20 years, a job I absolutely loved, but I was working all hours of the day and night and finally realised it was time to pursue my dream of being an artist.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS…
My top tip to anyone is make sure you can answer this question really quickly. You need to have an elevator pitch. If you’ve never heard of an elevator pitch it’s basically you’ve got three sentences to explain to somebody in a lift what you do for a living. Here is mine "I create beautiful oil paintings inspired by nature. I use colour in surprising ways, I paint in oils and my paintings are traditional with a contemporary twist” That’s usually enough to get somebody to ask me more questions about what kind of work I produce; it intrigues them and interests them but most importantly it’s brief!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEANT TO DO THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW WAS IMPORTANT A FEW YEARS AGO?
Networking…. just a different name for making friends in business. And you can do it in various ways. The most important group I belong to is Plain arts Salisbury which means I know lots and lots of the artists in the Salisbury area and I know most of the exhibitions that are going on. It absolutely keeps me in the loop and it’s key. I'm also an a member of the Female Entrepreneur Association and the Luminaries club. both are international online clubs; they have taught me such a lot about business. And in both of those clubs you're networking with other people.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF RAISING AWARENESS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?
I do a lot of face to face sales, primarily at art fairs but I also do other fairs as well if I think they will help get the word out there. For instance this week I’m going to be at Chalk Valley History Festival in the Emporium. I might not sell any originals there but I’ve got lots of prints, beautifully framed, and very affordable and who knows a commission may well come along my way. Next month I’ll be doing the New Forest Show, not a specific place for an artists to sell, but it gets the word out and you get to speak to customers directly. I also have to have an online presence. If a customer has seen me at a show they can look me up and see what work is available online. This year I’ve probably sold almost as many original paintings online as I have from art fairs just because people have chosen to buy after an event.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR WITH RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
Self confidence! I really had to change my mindset. At first I was so scared of making mistakes, scared of showing my work, and constantly questioning whether or not I was good enough to do this. I was constantly seeking is reassurance from those who love me. And in the end it paralyses you from making any decisions. So I had to start trusting my my instinct whenever possible - Or genuinely seeking real advice of things that I didn’t know how to do e.g. building my own website. There’s a big difference between asking somebody for serious business advice or vaguely asking someone for a bit of reassurance. Be business like when asking advice!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS?
Be crystal clear on what you do and for whom.
Stay on top of your books- you should have a firm grasp on where the money goes and when it’s coming in!
Stay in love with what you do.
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