Starting a Business in the Arts: A Beginner’s Guide

Plenty of artists would say that there is a divide between the mind of an artist and that of a businessperson. They may well be right, with artists more interested in the aesthetic experience of life, whereas businesspeople are interested in making money and expanding their firms. Still, there are thousands of artistic companies out there that fuse the two, and if you’re looking to make your own firm in the creative space, you’ll need to find a way to fuse these two worlds effectively. This article’s about how you can set up a fundamentally artistic business without overlooking important, professional tasks.

Make a Team

Creating a business in the arts is all about finding the right people to work alongside you. Here you’ll want to find a balance between those who are deeply passionate about all things creative and those who are more experienced in the professional qualities that all businesses need to possess. You can create a fantastic record label with brilliant emerging musicians, but if you fail to manage your budget effectively, you’ll end up broke – alongside the artists you’re trying to support.

You have a responsibility, therefore, to bring in talent from across the creative and the professional spectrum. Look out for people who have a track record of delivering for startups in certain roles, as these will be the people that you can trust to handle tasks with which you have little experience. As the leader of an artistic enterprise, it’s your main responsibility to create this team and to help it work seamlessly together.

Paperwork and Administration

It’s not just creatives who bulk at the idea of having to go through pages upon pages of administrative documents in order to get a business off the ground. It’s something no business leader or startup entrepreneur relishes – but it’s something that you are going to have to do. There are documents, forms, registration details, and profiles that you’ll have to create when setting up a business. First and foremost, that includes registering your business and ensuring that you’re operating within the law.

Then there are the websites and social media profiles you’ll want to set up the legal relationships you may want to establish, and the banking and finance partnerships that’ll be vital for the longevity of your business. Make sure you’re completing all of these stages in turn to avoid unpleasant surprises down the line. You can find a complete list of these tasks and documents by searching for them online.

External Help

If you’re working on the vision for a company, with a grand overview of where you want to take your new firm, it’s likely that you’ll overlook some of the finer points of detail. This is something that happens with plenty of businesses, but it might be that artistic enterprises are particularly prone to thinking in the big picture while forgetting to focus on the minute details. Happily, if this isn’t your direct area of expertise, you’ll be able to find external helpers who are deeply experienced in the areas where you feel you have some shortcomings.

Chief among these external helpers is the bookkeeper. They’ll have a magnifying glass on all of your transactions – your incomings, your overheads, and your expenditure – in order to make sure that you’re operating in the black rather than the red. They’ll also make sure you’re paying your taxes correctly and that you’re charging the right price for goods and services. If you’d like to outsource your bookkeeping tasks to an expert, you’ll simply have to find that expert online – someone you can trust to run your books for you while you focus on the development of your creative enterprise.

Getting Out There

If you’re operating in the art space, you’ll have fabulous opportunities to market your new business and to create fun events for your followers to attend. It’s easy to create a sense of community around an artistic project or enterprise, given that the artistic subculture in most cities often has its ear to the ground in terms of emerging ideas and organizations. To really hit off with a bang, a launch party can be just the thing that your enterprise needs to start feeling real and exciting. Feature your partnered artists prominently to set your vision from the get-go.

Meanwhile, beyond physical and in-person events, you can also look to the online world to promote your new business. Use the creatives in your team to make compelling marketing content to put on social media or in paid advertisements throughout the internet. Ask videographers to create great videos for YouTube and graphic designers to make your website look fantastic, fresh, and original. This should be one of your stronger areas of development, and it’s certainly something that, if done right, can generate plenty of interest around your new company.

Turning a Profit

As we mentioned earlier, there’s little use in setting up a creative enterprise if you’re going to end up disappointing your creative partners. If you’re unable to turn a profit, you’ll not be able to pay the creatives who work for or with you, and your efforts to promote their work will come to nothing. So even though there are plenty of exciting components to setting up an artistic enterprise – including managing artists you’re proud to work alongside – you ultimately have to find ways to make money.

And there are plenty of ways to do this. You can sell the art itself but also merchandise connected to the art. You can sell tickets to events and gigs and sell the merchandise at those events. You can ask for donations in a crowdfunding capacity, and you can apply for grants and other schemes designed to support the arts. As long as you have more cash coming into your firm than is going out, you’ll be well placed to make a profit each month from the running of your new artistic endeavor.

Running a creative company comes with its own unique difficulties. This article’s about taking you through those, offering solutions that’ll help you to turn a profit and do well with your artistic partners and colleagues.


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