One of your goals for the New Year should include a little reflection on what you are good at as well as those areas that need improvement. You strengths help you stand out among the competition and have a lot to do with the overall success of your art business. Knowing your strengths allows you to do what you do best and provides the backdrop for your marketing and sales efforts. In business terms – you capitalize on your strengths and manage your weaknesses. Just think about the things that you are really good at and how you can leverage them in the coming year.
Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is a basic business technique taught in every business school. The concept is simple: you gain market advantage by leveraging your strengths while you work to correct or minimize your weaknesses. Luckily you don’t need to go to business school to get started – all it takes is a piece of paper and a pencil and then making a list of your art business’s strengths and weaknesses.
For Those Who Didn’t Go To Business School – this is how they would describe it…
“A basic part creating a business or marketing plan is conducting what is called a situation or SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. SWOT analysis is a staple in most business programs but I bet you didn’t hear much about it in art school. The first part of conducting a SWOT analysis is doing an inventory of your company’s strengths and weaknesses.” OK, enough of the MBA stuff, let’s get started!
Strength or Weakness?
Start by keeping your analysis of strengths and weaknesses free form. Simply ask the questions “What the strengths of my creative business?; “What are the weaknesses of my creative business?”. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers only the situation your art business is in. Keep an open mind, be creative, and above all be honest about your capabilities. As you look at your strengths and weaknesses you may find that something may be both a strength and a weakness or neither.
Your strengths are things which you can take advantage of or capitalize on to grow your business as well as providing a basis for your marketing and sales efforts. What are you good at? , What are you successful at? , What do you enjoy doing?
Weaknesses are areas on which you need to improve and they may be a hindrance to your success and growth – either fix your weaknesses, figure out some way to get around them or even turn them into strengths. As your art business grows you will face many new challenges and it is likely that many of these new challenges will start as weaknesses.
How to analyze your strengths and weaknesses – Use this free worksheet
There is really no mystery here, just be honest and try to identify the areas where you are doing a good job and those that need improvement. Start by taking a piece of paper and draw a vertical line so you have two columns – one labeled Strengths and the other labeled Weaknesses, you can take it even further by adding a third column labeled Neither or Neutral. Get input from others including yourself – these might be employees, friends, other creatives, customers and anyone else you can think of who is familiar with your business. You may get some responses that you don’t like or are not particularly favorable – think of these as opportunities to improve and grow your business and brand.
I invite you to download and use the Creatives and Business Strengths and Weaknesses Worksheet. This worksheet will help you organize your thoughts, rate your strengths and weaknesses and prioritize items that need your attention.
Here are some areas that you should be sure to include…
Marketing and sales – get noticed, get sales, get paid…
- Your products, services, quality and uniqueness
- Your pricing and terms
- The availability and supply of your art or creative product
- Places where you sell your art
- Your brand awareness
- Advertising efforts
- Public Relations efforts
- Social Media
- Sales force and sales effort
- Web presence
Your Internal Systems and that other stuff aka “The Backroom”
- Accounting and record keeping
- Keeping track of costs
- Financial statements
- Human resources and personnel
- Compliance with governmental taxes
- Coverage of risk through insurance
- Contracts with your customers
- Protecting your intellectual property through trade names, trademarks, patents and copyrights
Organizational and legal – things you need to do…
- Proper form of organization for your art business to allow for future growth
- Responsibilities for people in your organization
- Legal documents required for your form of organization
- Governmental reporting
Facilities – your studio, workshop, gallery, storefront or wherever you do your thing…
- Physical location
- Size and type of facility
- Suitability to reach your customers
- Ability to allow for future growth
- Costs of keeping and maintaining
- Is it a place you want to be?
Creating and producing your art – this is why you are an artist, right?
- Your creativity and designs
- Your craftsmanship, level of skill and level of work
- The technologies, materials, methods and processes you use
- Tools and machinery used
- How efficient you are at producing your art
- Your level of quality and quality control
The Bottom Line(s)
Ok, I have given you a few areas to look at when analyzing your strengths and weaknesses. There are many more areas you should be exploring so put on your thinking cap! Remember that your strengths help form the core of your company and help you stand out in a world of competition – don’t take them lightly.
If you would like to find out more about analyzing your opportunities and threats and developing a business or marketing plan I invite you to check out my book, The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox. In the book you will find the business tools you need to succeed in your art business. Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto