Jumping In With Both Feet

You can keep the day job and build your business slowly, or jump in with both feet and sink or swim. Which one did you choose?



A young artist recently told the story of her startup. She had assisted another artist with a thriving business, learning how to market, how much earnings were possible, and that it was a viable option for her as well.

Then, she quit her day job and moved to another state where she planned to start that new art business. Instead of searching for another job to sustain her, she worked on her new venture full-time. Everything looked good. She could earn enough to get by, and did extensive planning and preparation given her experiences and knowledge.

Then, she got rained out of a show. Undaunted, she moved on to the next one, which went pretty well. It was encouraging. Two more shows ended up being losing propositions. Private gigs that she had lined up fell through. She started losing money, and maxing her credit cards. A sense of panic set in.

What happened? On paper, every show had good attendance, and good weather. Commissions were regular, and didn’t get cancelled. There were no rough seas. But that’s not how it turned out.

Rather than throw in the towel, she immediately started researching opportunities in her local area, and creating marketing materials. She got busy with social media networking as well. Things started to slowly turn around. She feels that she’s back on the right path, although she admits that succeeding is harder than she ever believed.

Most artists don’t take this route. Instead, they gradually build a creative business on the side, either keeping it part-time or hoping to work into a full-time job. It’s a safer choice, and more practical, especially if you have a mortgage, a family to support and bills to pay. And it doesn’t create the sense of panic that our entrepreneurial artist went through when things got tight.

But there is an upside to jumping in with both feet. There is an immediacy to the experience, with intense involvement and commitment necessary. You must find a way to sell what you make or what you do, and this creates a high level of motivation. If you need a kick to get started, there is nothing like having to earn income from your art business to pay the rent. Having savings to fall back on or having minimal bills can help smooth the way.

Which one did you choose? Did you dive in undaunted, and find a way to make it all work? Or did you build your business slowly and thoughtfully, one step at a time? What would you recommend to other artists?



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