Starting A Business

Imagine, if you will:

You decide, after sixteen years of experience, to go into business for yourself. So you spend a year putting the business together, acquiring the required equipment and software, figuring out how to use it, learning the ins and outs of the industry, setting up accounts, etc.

Then, over the final three months of that year, you perfect your product. You work 8 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, eating, living, breathing your product. You go through prototype after prototype, tweaking the design, getting feedback from others, changing changing changing, improving improving improving, hellbent on achieving the best possible quality before you launch.

You start an interest list, and have scores of people sign up for notification when the product launches; you set up a launch event, for which some 50 friends and family sign up; you promote the hell out of your business and product for those final months, making sure everyone is aware of what you’re doing, and when you’re launching. You’re getting lots of interest from your network, and you’re excited.

Then—drumroll, please—you launch.

But alas, only four or five people show up for your launch event. You send out notifications to your interest list, and receive little if any response. Over the weekend of your launch, you manage to sell only 8 units of your product. But you forge ahead, not giving up so soon. You promote promote promote, give away free samples, and even rack up a handful of great product reviews from your few customers….but all to no avail. Over the course of the next few months, you manage to scrape together a total of maybe 30 sales, not even making back what you spent in the creation process. You actually lose money, instead of experiencing the thriving business you had dreamed of.

Finally, you hang it up, defeated. Nobody’s interested in your product, or doing business with you—simply because you’re a new face in the industry, and nobody’s heard of you or your business.

Selling Your Art

Now, let’s change just a few words in this story, and see the difference it makes in perception:

You decide, after sixteen years of writing, to write and publish your own book. So you spend a year putting the book together, acquiring the required equipment and software, figuring out how to use it, learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry, setting up accounts, etc.

Then, over the final three months of that year, you perfect your book. You work 8 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, eating, living, breathing your book. You go through proof after proof, tweaking the design, getting feedback from others, editing editing editing, improving improving improving, hellbent on achieving the best possible quality before you launch.

You start an interest list, and have scores of people sign up for notification when the book launches; you set up a launch event, for which some 50 friends and family sign up; you promote the hell out of your book for those final months, making sure everyone is aware that you’re writing and publishing a book, and when you’re launching it. You’re getting lots of interest from your network, and you’re excited.

Then—drumroll, please—you launch.

But alas, only four or five people show up for your launch event. You send out notifications to your interest list, and receive little if any response. Over the weekend of your launch, you manage to sell only 8 books. But you forge ahead, not giving up so soon. You promote promote promote, give away free books, and even rack up a handful of great book reviews from your few readers….but all to no avail. Over the course of the next few months, you manage to scrape together a total of maybe 30 sales, not even making back what you spent in the publishing process. You actually lose money, instead of experiencing the thriving book sales you had dreamed of.

Finally, you hang it up, defeated. Nobody’s interested in buying your book—simply because you’re a new face in the publishing industry, and nobody’s heard of you or your work.

See the difference in perception? When it’s considered art—books, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, whatever—people may voice their support, but they don’t seem to realize that in actuality it’s a business venture; the artist is attempting to sell his or her wares, after spending considerable time, money, and energy producing and marketing them—and most likely after garnering years of experience in the trade. This is no different than going into business producing and selling any other product.

On the one hand, it seems that most people, when they realize their friend or family member or co-worker or associate is launching their own business, they pitch in, throw some business their way, send them referrals, do what they can to support them and their new business. Everyone wants the new business owner to succeed.

But on the other hand, when the perception is that their friend or family member or co-worker or associate is simply attempting to sell their art, well…that’s nice. Good luck! Hope things go well for you!

And life goes on.

Suddenly, it’s obvious why the term starving artist is so common in our society and economy.

But starving business owner? Not so much.

And the misperception of a difference between the two desperately needs to change.