Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Susan Sharp, Founder of A Sharp Difference, LLC., located in Galesburg, IL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I have three different aspects of my business--I'm an abstract artist, an author, and a speaker. My abstract art clients are hotels, corporations, and other commercial spaces, as well as homeowners who want bold color and texture. My readers are mid-lifers, Christians, and kids, as I write both personal development and children's books. And my audience is comprised of business professionals, Christian women, and creatives.
Tell us about yourself
I'm infinitely curious, which is an excellent quality for entrepreneurs. My rural upbringing meant I had a lot of wide open space to explore as a kid, and my first art projects were done with things I found in nature. I never thought I couldn't do something and failure just made me eager to master whatever I tried. I make connections between lots of different things, and my books, speeches, and workshops influence my art and vice versa. And as a creative, the work piles up, so I started a business because I had a lot of accidental inventory as a result of pursuing my art. It became natural to speak about my art and books, and before I knew it, the invitations flowed in-- from galleries and organizations wanting me to speak. I never really intended to be an entrepreneur...I think business chose me.
I am greatly motivated by meeting my client's needs. Doing a custom piece of art in their favorite palette is a joy. Presenting a dynamic workshop or keynote tailored to my audience is a welcome challenge. All of my work energizes me and uses every ounce of my brainpower. That's exciting to me.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My art was used on the set of the Netflix drama Orange is the new black Season 7, and that was huge for me. It led to getting my work in hotels.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think it's hard to market one's self. I'm not trained in business, and I don't always enjoy the necessary tasks that have to be done to drive traffic. As a brand, I have to be consistent, but as a free-spirited creative, I'm all over the map. I am constantly balancing this challenge.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Learn to articulate your unique skills and gifts. You need other people to help you, and it takes time, but it must be done.
- You will likely spend more than 60% of your time in the less glamorous aspects of business... either master them and learn to love them or make enough money to hire that stuff out!
- Know your industry. You don't have to have a huge network, just a meaningful one!
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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