Sometimes it can be an unanswered question in the creative industry, especially for small businesses or new entrepreneurs in the Art Business. I believe this idea comes from how people present the big companies’ stories. Stoic heroes that start a business with no help and got to 7,8, 9 10-figures in instants. Forbes may have many articles that tell this same tale.
The businessperson is was seen as a lonely, who takes all the decisions by him/herself. However, the top is not so lonely, after all.
“By definition, running a small business means you have to juggle multiple roles and skills. While it’s important to have a healthy sense of self-reliance and determination, when starting a business, entrepreneurs are likely to be instantly overwhelmed by the things they don’t know how to do. At every turn they have to make a decision—do I figure out how to do it on my own or do I need help?” -- Tom Klein, MailChimp.
Of course, there are lots of things you are capable to do and many you will need to do in the beginning in order to build a solid foundation for your business. However, soon you will see that maybe you could use a piece of advice. Maybe it is not so easy to find clients anymore; maybe it has been hard to pitch a new collection to a client, or the cashflow is not working as it should. Then… what to do? Where should you look for support? Who should you ask about your doubts?
Every business is built using two basic resources: time & money. Both have limits. If you have more money, you can pay for someone to solve a problem for you. But if you don’t? Well, in this case, you will need to use your time and do it by yourself. Although, I bet your day has only 24h like mine. So, when you need to do more things than your clock allows it is time to start buying some help. Good advice can make you save a lot (time & money), so you can give the next steps. If you get stuck in a point because you don’t have the experience to know better, or you have no more time & money to waste, you can be scarifying the future of your business taking wrong decisions. And I hate to see it happening…
A business coach can teach you things that you will never learn in school. An art business consultant will have theoretical knowledge – about business – and practical experience – in the art world – that together will result in amazing advice for your artistic career. Specialists like that have specific insights that are aligned to your industry and the current market trends. Such information results from years and years of attempts, mistakes, victories and overall experiences that could take you years to learn, and big amounts when hiring someone with this skill set to your team.
When I am talking about a business coach, I am not referring to a besuited person who will charge you per hour to tell you jokes about the corporative world and catchphrases. I am talking about a real person interested in support for your work. A person with whom you feel comfortable with and with whom you can share experience and look for advice. Or even, someone who already has a program to introduce to you.
You need someone who understands you and the nature of the business you’re in.
A coach is someone primarily interested in your wellbeing and your learning process and goals. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So, how do you go about choosing the right kind of coaching?
1. Love is important…
No doubt the first thing you should consider is the CONNECTION you feel with your coach. If there is no chemistry there, go after another one, ok? You need to trust and feel comfortable with your coach. The sessions should be pleasurable meetings when you have the opportunity to have someone working with you in your goals. If, for any reason, this connection breaks, it is time to move on.
It is also important to have a coach who pushes you out of your comfort zone and demand efforts and results from you. Your coach can be your “cheerleader” once in a while, but he/she needs to return to a “coach position” when comes to push you into your goals.
2. but the experience is essential!
However, this person needs to have more knowledge and experience than you. Your coach doesn’t need to be a super successful self-made billionaire. But needs to be someone who understands the struggles you are having now because this person already saw it before. In other words, your coach doesn’t need to have all the answers, but he/she needs to have all the answers to your doubts.
That is why is so essential to find a coach who works in your industry. A person who will open a travel agency will face different challenges than someone who will open a hair salon. So, if you are an artist you will need someone who works with the Art Business, only then will you be sure that this person has the kind of knowledge you need to make decisions.
3. If one person won’t cut it, choose many
If you need to leverage your business to another level, or you work with a complex structure, maybe it is better to have people taking care of different aspects of your business at the same time. You can assign a marketing coach for your promotion, a financial coach for your cash flow and maybe a logistic coach for getting your shipping better. Everything at once. This is an amazing strategy when you have money, but not much time in your hands.
4. Know your strengths and weaknesses
“A lot of the time, people who are passionate about their craft, product, or in expressing themselves through making something, turn that passion into a business. They’re not ‘career CEOs,’ but ‘accidental business people’ – creative people who find themselves running a business. Having to catch up on business stuff while continuing to manage and grow a creatively-driven organization can feel isolating.” -- Tom Klein, MailChimp.
This is where a business coach could be especially helpful, to help recognize your strengths and weaknesses and give you the support necessary in the areas you struggle the most.
5. Accept that the help you need will change
Starting a business, you will need different tools from scaling one. Your business you develop itself during the time, and your needs will change. If in the beginning, you would need help to find your message and target market. Soon you will need support to build an online store or starting to hiring people. Your doubts will evolve, so should your coach. You may use the same person for the first couple of things, but you will see that with some time you will need to migrate to a person with a different focus or skillset. That’s ok, no hurt feelings. Just be mindful of when and how to do that, and the best way always starts with a frank conversation. Show to your coach our new goals and see how he/she can help you with it. If it is beyond his/her range he/she may help you find better support out there.
6. Keep you coaching appointments regular
At the very least, you should think of coaching as a quarterly check-up on the health of your business – like going to the dentist but without all the physical and psychological trauma. Or book in appointments as regularly as you need. Although, businesses have cycles and they need to be fed constantly to conclude a cycle and start another. If you just run to some advice when you have a problem you will never be able to avoid them to happen in the first place.
What is happening in your business right now will bring an outcome in the future. If you are taking the right decisions and making the homework, you will attract better outcomes than if you are always chasing tail. The best part of counting on professional help is that you can be efficient in cutting costs and shortening deadlines. However, it is just possible with constant and focused work.
Choose a day in the week and a time you feel comfortable and keep it for a while. Like in therapy you will see how the results will appear. Sometimes not exactly where you thought in the first place, but definitely where they should appear. Just consider cancelling it if you don’t have doubts to bring to the table anymore.
7. Don’t forget about your gut
Receiving advice is amazing, but if you are taking chances on your talent, be mindful of your instincts. There is nothing wrong with deciding to break the rules, if you know the rules and understand why they are there and how they work. Your coach will show you the path. A tested one, where others already passed before you, so you can be safe. But if you decide to take another route, you should feel comfortable with that as well. Our coach will give you a heads up about the threats on the way, but the last word is always yours.
8. Know the difference between a coach and a consultant
Many think they are interchangeable words, but that’s not 100% true. A business coach is similar to a sportive one. It is someone who will teach you within a program, what to do in a realistic scenario. This person will perform the teacher role, explaining theoretical concepts, introducing tools & hacks, as well, giving you homework and supporting you on applying them to your business. In general, coaches have their own methodology to present & explain the content, being responsible for making the coachee to learn the lessons and to put them together in the right way generating real results. After the content is learned and applied is natural the coach keeps in touch with the student for an undetermined period. It happens because people have different learning curves, so some learn faster than others. A coach should be on top of your personal development, offering support every time you feel confused or overwhelmed.
A consulting on the other hand will work with you on a project. In this case, you would bring your problems to a person who will build a project for you, a map that shows how to solve these issues. This plan will have an expected time to be concluded and a price will be attached to it. Consultants run the plans with the business owner to achieve the goals they agreed in the beginning. After the project is concluded, commonly, the consultant stays in the project for a while making sure that everything is working fine and there are no complications on the way. When the project is running by itself the contract is over and there is no more agreement between the consultant and the company. A new project could start a new cycle of collaboration.
To sum up, a coach will teach you how to do things, and a consultant will do it with you. That’s why consulting contracts used to be shorter and in general 2.5 to 5x more expensive than a coaching process for the same period.
Now that you already know the difference, ask yourself:
Do I need a coach to help me in my Art Business? Am I having trouble understanding my business, dealing with everyday issues or generating revenue?
If you do, it is possible, that you could use some professional help making you save time and money.
Suira.art offers both coaching and consulting programs to every single different market with the Artistic Business. Music, Visual Arts, Dance, Cinema, Architecture, Design, Fashion, Literature are the industries we work with. Understanding deeply the starters' struggles we believe in offering business support we can have more and more artists in the near future making a living from the talents.
If you want to understand it better, click here and let's talk about your goals in art.
Things they don't tell you
*the pictures have references to the artistic in alt text and they are links to the artists' platforms.