Brave little businesses

October 5, 2008

I visited with a fellow artist this morning who was grumbling about too few visitors to his gallery. ‘There are just too many things to do in our area, and too many artists’, he said. He was saying in effect that there isn’t enough to go around. 

This is an easy mode of thinking to fall into, especially if you have started your own  business and things are not going well.  I can cite any number of outside factors for why my work might not be selling enough; the economy, people’s tastes, the competitor down the road, my own aversion to hard selling, etc. 

I’ve been in enough circles of artists who were caught in the victim role to know that you don’t progress much when blaming circumstances for your own lack of success.

But there are just so many new brave little businesses out there encountering the same problems: women whose kids have left the nest starting on a new career as a masseuse or alternative healer; people who have been disillusioned with corporate life and are setting out for themselves; the list goes on. 

I encountered someone recently in a field very close to mine, her folder was catchy and well done and the text very close to what I had considered for my own promotional material. But reading it from the point of, a business manager, there were so many holes. What kind of specialized training does this person have, all the claims about how effective she was were from her own hand, and honestly, in the end there was nothing in the folder alone that would convince me to hire her.

It doesn’t help anymore to shout out how good you are, everyone does.
It doesn’t help to be the coolest, because someone else is always cooler.
It doesn’t help to have the newest approach because in 15 minutes someone with a newer one will come along.
So how do we small self-employed creatives with slightly marginal businesses compete? 

I admit that there are new entrepreneurships that are hugely successful, it is always possible you will hit on a formula that exactly clicks with upcoming trends.

But I am writing for the rest of us. Please see next entry for my vision on new marketing attitudes.

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