Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Andrea Cermanski, Founder of Santa Fe Painting Workshops, located in Santa Fe, NM, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I teach abstract acrylic painting classes to beginner and intermediate students online and through in-person classes and retreats in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My customers are people who are interested in learning to paint but haven't attended art school. Some of them are tourists to Santa Fe, New Mexico, who want an authentic creative experience, and others are people who travel to me from around the world so they can learn to create contemporary abstract acrylic paintings.
Tell us about yourself
After teaching art for 18 years in our local public schools, I wanted to find more freedom in my job and instruct individuals who were as passionate about painting as I am. Being a mom of two young boys, I also needed flexibility in my job. So I took my 30 years of painting experience and 18 years of teaching and opened up my own gallery and workshop space in downtown Santa Fe. In order to reach even more people, I just launched an online abstract painting course. I am motivated by the stories I hear from my students and how I have changed their lives. So many people want to learn to paint but are bogged down with myths about having to be a "creative genius" who attended art school in order to create. My goal is to show students how approachable painting can be with a few key techniques, basic principles of design, and a dedicated teacher under their belts. Ultimately, I hope to inspire more people to paint as a way to calm the mind and achieve an overall feeling of connection and inspiration.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is taking the leap to rent a brick-and-mortar space in a touristy area in Santa Fe and challenging myself to scale my business so that I can reach more people.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things about being a business owner is all the things that have to be accomplished to run a successful business. In the early days, a business owner might not have a budget for a team; therefore, they have to manage all aspects of the business, from advertising, marketing, managing the website, invoicing, and delivering the service. The work is intense, and I could be working all the time, but luckily I feel satisfied because I am following my passion and doing good work in the world.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a business coaching program right away. Look for opportunities through your local chamber of commerce, as they often have free resources for business owners. You need to understand the whole picture of running a business, and a coach or business start-up program will provide that.
- Hire an Accountant. Unless you have the skills and time to run your books, you should absolutely hire a bookkeeper or accountant to make sure everything is being reported and accounted for correctly. I recommend hiring one of the senior bookkeepers through Quickbooks. I spent a year of time and investment with a bookkeeper who made a mess of my books and cost me time and energy I could have invested in my business.
- Create Content on a Weekly Basis. Regardless if your business is online or brick-and-mortar, you need to drive traffic (physical and digital) to you. Creating content via a blog, podcast, social media, or youtube videos will help you get discovered by your ideal audience. It's important to understand how your ideal audience will potentially find you and then create the content there. For my customers, they find me mostly through Google, so I spend a lot of time on my blog and trying to optimize my website for SEO. It takes time to see the results of content creation, but the time and effort will pay off.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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