Our first step in embarking on any business endeavor as an artist is to realize that there’s more than one role involved in making a business work. The moment you hand over something in return for money, you’re no longer just the Artist… now your concerns have expanded to include how to handle money, how to get your art into people’s hands, and how to arrange things so both those things happen more often.
By my way of thinking, there are three basic roles: Business Manager, Marketer and Artist. Artist covers any artistic endeavor: writing, craft-making, singing… whatever you’re trying to make money on. Veterans of larger companies will note that I’ve folded Sales into Marketing, which is a personal bias. Don’t worry, Marketer’s pretty energetic, she can handle it.
Without further ado, then, the Three Jaguars!
Primary Workmode: Practical and Administrative
Your Business Manager self needs to channel an inner Virgo (if you have one): meticulous, data-focused and completist. This is the self that makes lists and does chores and says, “Uh, no” to things like “Can I buy a crazy-expensive thing that we can’t afford.” Since I don’t have an inner Virgo, I think of the Business Manager as my inner Parent; they both say ‘no’ a lot.
- Accounting: The primary duty of the Business Manager is accounting: tracking expenses and revenue and calculating profit. That means every time money comes in, you write it down, and every time money goes out, you write it down… and then you subtract the one from the other to see how you’re doing. The Business Manager is also in charge of maintaining lists of customers, tracking layaways or recurring purchases/income, and preparing taxes.
- Personnel Management: Your Business Manager self is also charged with time-tracking: this means that you need to know how long everything you do takes, whether it’s marketing, creative work, or your business management tasks. That really does mean everything. Runs to the post office, inputting income, drawing a new picture, researching a new art supply, social-networking, composing blog posts; all of that is a cost of doing business, and you need to record it. The Marketer will need this data to help advise the Business Manager which tasks are more profitable than others.
- Asset Management: The Business Manager also tracks (and depreciates) all your assets, manages inventory and replaces or re-orders necessary parts. This is the part of you that shows up to sort and label all your existing work, figures out if you need to buy a new computer or brushes, and purchases another year of your post office box when the rent comes due.
- Process Management: All businesses have processes… and the Business Manager should always be on the look-out for ways to streamline yours. If you spend less time on processes, you have more time to do everything else. Things like deciding to run all your business errands on the same day so that you aren’t constantly interrupting your studio time to hit the post office fall under process management.
- Administrative: This is the Self that goes out and mails out things, deposits checks, packages products for mailing, buys pens and papers and coffee.Facing: Vendor and Financial Institutions
The Business Manager is the one buying things (with a jaundiced eye and a tight fist) and interacting with banks and financial institutions.
Outsourcing Potential: Medium.
You can get people do so some of the work of the Business Manager; it’s not too hard to get someone to label things and mail them for you. You can pay for someone to prepare your taxes. This can be moderately expensive, depending on where you are or whether you have access to artist organizations. The cons? A lot of Business Management requires close interaction with you on a day-to-day basis, or exchange of personal information. Getting other people to help you streamline your processes can be hit-or-miss if they don’t know your daily routine or your personal situation.