Navigating the Art Business Journey: Lessons from a Small Business Entrepreneur

Navigating the Art Business Journey: Lessons from a Small Business Entrepreneur

bri simpson painting large mural

I started my art business fresh out of college at the age of 23. I had no clue what I was doing, and no business plan or true goals at the time. The opportunity came to be in an art show and I jumped right in.
Fast forward nearly 10 years later, my artwork has graced galleries not only in Metro Atlanta but also in cities like Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Chicago, Miami, and Houston. I've shipped original art, prints, and t-shirts across the country, with the latest order hailing from the United Kingdom— a moment that still has me overjoyed.
As we celebrate #SmallBusinessSaturday, I want to share the pivotal lessons that have shaped my entrepreneurial journey:
  1. Take Calculated Risks: Starting my business was an impulsive decision, but it set the stage for growth. Entrepreneurship thrives on embracing challenges and standing in your truth. The magic happens when you bet on yourself and take that initial risk, even when you're unsure. During my first few shows, I didn’t have a website, business cards, anything. Despite not having these things, I said “yes” anyhow. I took on the challenge and that's the beauty of entrepreneurship. Today, I encourage aspiring business owners to answer the call, take that first step, and believe in their potential.
  2. Master Your Craft: Running a small business forces you to be resourceful. To succeed, you have to stay informed about industry trends, key figures, and constantly evolve your skills. I've played multiple roles—creative director, marketer, advertiser, PR representative, manager, and more. My journey involved downloading countless eBooks, attending seminars, and enrolling in online courses. It also looked like going to the art supply store, buying new products, learning new craft skills like candle and print making. Continuous learning and experimentation are vital for growth and finding new avenues for success. 
  3. Flexibility in Time Management: Running a small business does have some perks like setting your own schedule, but now more than ever time management becomes important.  Understand the industry you’re in, and what are peak months to do business in.
    Have short (daily/weekly/monthly) and long-term (quarterly/annually) goals to guide your decision-making. And even then be open to changing paces.  come back to everything else.

    Recognize that success unfolds on its unique timetable—there's no one-size-fits-all timeline. By strategically planning for slow and busy seasons, you can navigate challenges and stay prepared for opportunities.
  4. Show Up for Yourself: Probably the biggest and hardest lesson about being a small business owner is showing up for yourself. None of it happens if you don‘t show up for yourself. Taking risks, learning, and managing time effectively only work when accompanied by genuine commitment. Overcoming self-doubt, applying learned knowledge, and respecting your business's unique journey are essential in the recipe for success.
For dreamers contemplating their entrepreneurial journey, my advice is simple: take that risky first step, embrace continuous learning, experiment with your process, and remain flexible with your time. Your unique business story awaits, and success will follow when you commit to showing up for yourself.-bR!
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