“There are so many things to do, I don’t even know where to start.”
“I get confused about what to do first, so I do nothing and freeze.”
These aren’t unusual feelings for new entrepreneurs in any business – artists included. The whole concept of being in business and being responsible for everything can be overwhelming. And then fear steps in. Inaction can result, because if you don’t start, you can’t fail.
What can you do to overcome feelings of overwhelm with your art business?
Start by thinking big. Write down the big vision that you have for your business. What will it look like? What will your life be like when you are living this vision? Get very clear on what you want, and what you don’t want. Because if you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there.
Set goals. To make your clear vision a reality for yourself and your business, you must achieve certain goals, and so you must identify and set them. Some will be bigger and more long term. Others are more immediate. Write down your goals, and make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-specific (also known as SMART goals). In this way, you begin to define what you will be doing to make that big vision happen.
Break it down. Setting goals can be daunting, but breaking them down into manageable chunks can actually be motivating. When you complete steps and check them off your list, you reward yourself with a sense of accomplishment that works wonders toward defeating that initial sense of overwhelm.
Mind-mapping is one way to break down your goals. Since many artists are very visual, a mind map sets everything out in a way that keeps the big picture, but divides it into doable parts. See if this technique works for you.
Start now. No matter how lofty your goals, there is always something you can do today to move forward. Perhaps it is making a phone call, creating a list or doing an internet search. Make sure that you do something every day to move forward toward your goals. Small businesses are built on persistent action over time. It makes all the difference.
Get an accountability partner. Working in isolation can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. But it’s not you against the world. Find another person to partner with and measure each other’s progress, meeting or speaking on the phone on a regular basis to track your progress. Let them know your goals, advise them of what you have accomplished – and do the same for them.
Other accountability partners can be guild leaders or members who work with you specifically to help define and measure progress. The Arts Business Institute also has mentorship and consulting services which help artists get on track and stay on track.