Embrace Fear to Grow Your Art Business

When you experience fear, it gives you a good sense of what you are resistant to. And as far as growing your small business, the things you resist are probably things you should be doing.


Nervous woman


Some of the biggest fears artists have:

Fear of the unknown. If you are just starting out, your fear could be general, and overwhelming, if you feel that starting a creative business may be just too big of a project. What if you don’t have a good idea of where to start? Or you sense that everything has to be perfect before you launch? The truth is that every business, small or big, is a work in progress. Just get started, and take one step at a time. You have to make some mistakes along the way, but your comfort level will increase as you grow.

Going public. One basic fear involves getting out in front of people to show your work and talk about what you do – leaving yourself open to potential rejection or hurtful comments. Fortunately, this is mostly in your mind. Most people are instinctively supportive; they want you to succeed, and tend to focus on positive and encouraging words. Be open to comments, though and remember that your work isn’t for everyone. That will always be the case.

Staying in touch. This means following up with people who have either indicated an interest in your work, or people who have already bought from you. These are some of the most important activities you can undertake, because it is five times easier to make a repeat sale to a customer who is already a fan than it is to sell to a new “cold” prospect.

Hearing “no” from a prospect. You wanted to land that gallery, and you were sure it was a perfect fit for your art, but they weren’t interested. What does that mean? Rejection is not necessarily a bad thing. It could be that they like what you make, but now is not a good time. In that case, don’t take it personally, because that was a business decision. Stay in touch and try again later.

And if it was a definite no, then at least you can cross them off your list. It’s better to be told there is no interest than to receive lukewarm feedback that keeps you hanging on. Narrow down your prospect list so that you can focus on your best chances for a sale.

It takes quite a bit of persistence to start and grow a small business. That means pushing through the fear and embracing activities that will lead to success. Sales is a numbers game; most people will not want what you have. But if you can identify and close a small percentage of prospects, say 10-20% of the people who respond favorably to your art or handmade work, you can actually make a good living.


What fears have presented the biggest challenges in your own art business?

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