Be Smart About Art

Making informed business decisions

written by: Susan Mumford June 12, 2016 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan's weekly blog post 3233 views

Making informed business decisions

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

As a business matures, patterns develop. And for those who stage events, which is the case with the majority of folks in the art world, you quickly end up with regular annual commitments. For example, you might participate in a fair in March each year, a local community arts festival in May, an annual creative retreat in July and a group show in October.

While establishing continuity is welcome for a small business owner who typically wears many hats, establishing it takes time, effort, hard work and risk. You will trial new endeavours, make swift judgements as to how they work for you – or not – and thereby decide whether or not to pursue them again in future.

That said, there can still be interruptions to the plan, such as festival and fair organisers changing dates, location and the like. And rather than rest on your laurels by doing the same thing time and time again, with a rapidly changing industry, you’ll no doubt continue to trial different events as well as experiment with variations on existing ones.

Whatever you do, and however you develop your programme, it’s key that you make informed business decisions along the way, based on accrued experience as to what works and what doesn’t. Over time, you gain confidence in saying NO to opportunities that aren’t quite right, and are increasingly proactive in changing the plan if something isn’t working. This is accompanied by an understanding that the best decision is not always the easy one.  

As someone who has run multiple enterprises over the years, I’ve come to greatly appreciate the continuity that comes with time. For example, in the case of Be Smart About Art (at the time of writing), there’s a weekly blog post, a monthly networking event, an annual trip to Miami Art Week, an annual #ArtBizBootcamp for Art Dealers, a springtime online course for artists a twice-a-year symposium in London and the like. With ongoing development in the programme, something from the past week has been a reminder of the importance of making decisions that work for one's audience.

While it had become clear that there was keen interest in a second symposium to compliment the energising January kick-start event, my idea for this to take place in June simply didn’t work. Many people have told me they wanted to attend, but simply couldn’t because it is such a busy time of year. No matter how incredible a line-up you’re presenting, if the time isn’t right for the people who would like to attend, change is required. So that’s exactly what I did last week: I delayed the event by three months.

What you have to do is weigh up the pros and cons of proceeding as planned or making a change. This ranges from money that will be forfeited to brand perception. When the best course of action is decided, you prioritise what needs to be done when, and do it. After all is said and done, pay attention to how you feel (as correct decisions feel fantastic).

I for one am ecstatic about the change in plan. The number one phrase that was stated about the event in January was ‘the energy’, and I’m confident that everyone in attendance at the next one will have a similar experience.  

Be confident in making the right decision, even if it's not the easy one. 


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user name

This is a very timely and welcome post to read, I'm in the difficult position in possibly saying No to taking part in a big event which at first appears to be very prestigious and could open new doors. It would involve me spending the rest of the year getting ready for it, letting down my galleries who are patiently waiting for stock, not taking on commissions etc. At the end of the day, even if the Event attracts a large number of visitors they will mainly be retail outlets, designers and students, none of whom are my target demographic. So to use your own words, I need to 'Be confident in making the right decision, even if it's not the easy one.'