New Year’s Advice for Entrepreneurial Artists and Creators

1 01 2015

With the New Year beginning today, I thought this would be a good time to share some key points I presented at one of the conferences I attended last year. I believe these are important reminders for entrepreneurs with an artistic or creative business.

J'net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

J’net Smith meets with Zach Hampton creator of College Dayz online comic and Christiana Bleadsoe of G3EK for a mentoring session at the CEO Conference.

I was honored to speak at the CEO (Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization) Conference in Orlando with other exceptional business owners. I spoke about licensing your concepts, characters and art, and then joined in on a panel, giving our best advice to some very energetic college students about entrepreneurial careers. The CEO Conference was co-hosted by SEA (Self-Employment in the Arts), an outstanding group which focuses on training for college students and those planning to run their own creative business and for whom I am an ‘Ambassador.’

I feel strongly that we need to share our talents and experience with students, young businesspeople, and burgeoning entrepreneurs because while they have more options than ever (a GOOD thing); they also have more options than ever (a TOUGH thing). For certainly, with more options, comes more complexity.

Since it’s part of my job to simplify and make understandable complex business issues, I thoroughly enjoyed being at the CEO Conference. It was a busy event, which made me think a great deal about the days when my career was just beginning to unfold and I had so many important decisions to make. As a young woman, one of these decisions was—‘Do I move to NYC with just a suitcase and a smile?’ I decided ‘yes’ and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I had to learn quickly and thoroughly the in’s and out’s of the global licensing arena in order to succeed in developing creative properties in NYC’s corporate environment and then beyond. Here are a few pieces of advice that I know will help many of you starting your own creative businesses:

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J'net Smith and Mike Veny -   CEO Conference Panel on: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

(L to R) Ed Wimp, Greta Pope, J’net Smith and Mike Veny – CEO Conference Panel: Making a Living in the Arts, Sponsored by Self-Employment in the Arts

1) Run your art business like a business — Some creators think that learning to be an entrepreneur crushes their creativity. Do NOT let this be you! Learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about how to make a viable income with your art by creating a viable business. Creating a business is actually much like creating your art. You must envision it, allow it to develop and then do it—bringing it into reality. You need to learn about business models, cash flow, marketing, sales, distribution, strategic alliances, contracts, negotiations, trends and more. You will then be one of the lucky few who actually DOES make a living in a career they love. There is no need to be a starving artist.

2) Find a PROVEN business model — First decide what you want to do and do it! There is nothing as draining as indecision. Find a proven business model that comes closest to what you want your business to be and then follow the example. Whether your creative path is through galleries, art/character licensing, government grants, or something else, you must work within the industries’ parameters and emulate the successful models in order to duplicate their achievements. Once your business is supporting itself, you can then change or expand your business to make things fit you, your dreams and goals more closely.

3) Don’t be afraid of selling yourself & marketing your business — It’s all about finding the right audience for your product (art, characters, designs, skills, services, etc.) and finding ways to profitably get it to the manufacturers, retailers and consumers. If you don’t develop a consistent marketing and sales plan and routine, maintaining it with a strong discipline, you won’t have a business. However, the good news is, if you do develop a serious dedication and continuous motivation, coupled with a strong learning curve and work ethic, you will almost certainly succeed.

4) Do as much as you can on your own — Listen to advice whenever you can. Pay for it if necessary. Attend trade shows, classes, events and conferences with your peers, industry experts and your (B2B and B2C) target audiences, as often as possible. Meet with business associates wherever opportunities present themselves. Then, get as much advice as possible on choosing business partners for all those things you can’t, or don’t want to, do yourself. Remember you have to spend money to make money; but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a fortune. Learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as how far you can push yourself. Then build your team by spending your time and energy on your strengths and delegating and investing in those whose strengths are your weaknesses.

I think that continually living outside your comfort zone is exactly why and how growth occurs and is where the brightest and best entrepreneurs are inevitably found. And remember the best advice anyone can ever give you is—‘go for it; you can do it!’

If any of you have questions about art and character licensing, business and brand development, please come and ask your questions during our next free Ask J’net Q&A.

NEW CLASSES FOR 2015 – SIGN UP TODAY
FREE ‘Ask J’net Q&A’
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 – 12 noon – 1 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4 p.m. EDT

Start the New Year off right by getting your art, design and character licensing questions answered by J’net during this free one-hour ‘live’ phone event. You just sign-up here for the class. When registering, there is a place at the bottom of the form to write your questions. J’net will answer as many questions as possible during the hour, all you need to do is call in at the specific time to get the answers to your questions and learn from others’ questions. Please note: You will receive your Dial-in number and Access Code for the class the night before the event from All Art Licensing.

‘Launching and Leveraging Your Annual Marketing Plan’
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 — 12 noon – 1:30 p.m. PDT/3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT
Price: $60

The New Year is traditionally the perfect time to launch your annual plan. If you don’t already have a plan or need new ideas to increase your licensing sales success in 2015, then I have created this course for you. The class will cover how to develop a marketing calendar for the year, including portfolio development, trade shows, sales timing and techniques, public relations, and social media. You will learn how to organize all of this into a comprehensive plan of action that you can manage and execute to improve your licensing sales results. The major emphasis of the class will be leveraging what you have in your current business to the next, more profitable level. Please note: This is a live audio event, which will also be video recorded. It will include a full PDF presentation booklet, as a part of the course. Any registered attendees who wish to apply to be included in our live stream video beta test, please contact me directly after registering. Included in the purchase price, all registered attendees will receive audio of the class for their personal review.

With the New Year here, it’s such a great time to take inventory of yourself, your habits, your business and goals so you can move to a new level! I look forward to connecting with you in 2015!

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