Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
I’m an artist from Louisville Kentucky, USA. I started my business because I recognized in myself the inability to flourish while working for someone else’s dream.
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
I make and sell artwork. Prints through Etsy, originals, and prints when I set up at festivals and art shows.
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
As with most of our deepest challenges, it was a psychological one. The most challenging aspect of my work was getting myself to believe it really *is* possible to make a living selling art. Beyond that, most challenges are met with creativity, intelligence, and perseverance.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I truly enjoy making things that people love and finding that space, the negotiation between what people want and what you think they should want, is the most engaging work a person can do. The hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is probably also one of the coolest things: total self-ownership. If you’re doing great, you earned that feeling of accomplishment. If your business is failing, you can’t blame it on anyone but you. It’s humbling but in the best way.
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
My biggest mistakes, in the beginning, revolved around procrastination. Protip: if you have a good product and you make your customers happy, you will succeed. It really is that simple. But if you think you can coast by on good products or good marketing alone without really caring about your customers, then you’ve got a harsh awakening on the horizon. It’s not “the customer is always right.” Because they often aren’t. It’s “I’m going to treat every customer right.” Even when they aren’t.
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
For inspiration, I tend to ask myself questions. “What is something that people don’t realize they absolutely love?” “What awesome thing is underrepresented?” “What’s popular right now that shouldn’t be? What’s something amazing that more people should know about?” Asking yourself questions is the best way to generate new ideas.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Experience. They don’t teach you in school how to make it in the art world. There were no classes on how to finagle your way into a good art show or how to maximize your Etsy sales. Trial and error, trial, and error. Luckily, if you’re focused, you can cram 4 years’ worth of Entrepreneur classes in 6 months just by hitting the streets, dropping the ego, and taking it seriously.
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
Specificity. Better to market narrow and deep rather than wide and shallow. In the long term, it’s a sturdier and more sustainable practice to find the *few* hardcore fans and grow it from there. Market on the main platforms, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc, but market sharp and concise. And be honest. People are smarter than smart people tend to think, and they can sense bullshit a mile away.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
To begin, you need data, research, creativity, and patience. Build lean, make tons of products, and test them in the real world as soon as possible to get more feedback and what works and what doesn’t. After you iterate a hundred times, you’ll find the two or three things that are going to work. Then, once you have those, you throw your resources into their marketing and distribution. Keep experimenting, stay lean and flexible, and keep your customers happy. If you can make one customer happy enough to tell their friend, and that friend buys something, you’ve got yourself a business.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I define business success like this: Sufficient, low maintenance income that aims to maximize freedom of time and mental energy. We can all make more money, but time is the truest currency in the world. Financial success without time freedom is just a gold-studded failure.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
My day is has a general structure (because we all need discipline) but I allow whim and improvisation interrupt as well, (because of what use is time freedom without the ability to do what you’d like?) Basically, I wake when I wake, no alarm. (Because who wants to wake up ‘alarmed’? Is it natural to jolt awake in a panic every day?) Then I have coffee, I meditate, maybe I go for a walk or a drive. I’ll do errands, pick up supplies, etc and then by the afternoon I’ll be home and start the work of the day, usually creating art. I’ll work on that for however long, usually a few hours. Then I’ll eat my first meal around five or six, something meaty, fatty, and keto-inspired. Then I’ll get back to work, or, if I feel I’ve earned it, indulge in some Netflix or video games.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I plan to grow my business by dominating one, small niche of the art world, then expanding and dominating more and more categories.
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
I’m happy to answer more pointed questions.