There comes a time in every entrepreneurs journey where the road splits and we have to shift gears from operating as a hobby to full throttle sales. Many of us start off small, clients here and there, passing out the occasional card, and answering calls at our leisure. Problem with that is, at the same time, we have invested in hundreds and even thousands of dollars in supplies that aren’t generating income. So the real question is, “How do I get the business I want and need?”.
*Disclaimer: The thoughts, advice and information provided in this post are solely the opinions of the author and should be followed up with due diligence prior to holding them as truth.
- Determine the level of business you are looking to pursue.
If you want to do the occasional birthday or town event, or if you only want to work one weekend a month, I don’t suggest that you flood the town with business cards. If you are looking to work every weekend and possibly a restaurant or two during the week, then your strategy will differ. Some of us have BIG plans for our face painting businesses. We want to bring in the bucks, book tons of good paying gigs, and paint till our hands hurts. But it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Typically a face painters busiest days of the week are Saturday and Sunday, which are also the days we like to spend with family, catch up on house chores, or attend our own personal events. Are you ready to commit your weekends to work? If you are, I will tell you how to get more business, but if you don’t want the responsibility of booking, invoicing, inventory, and working on the weekends, then you will want to consider working through an agent that will book you based on availability.
- There are no shortcuts to being successful in business.
Investing is one of the most crucial aspects of business success and growth. When I refer to investing, I’m not just talking about in product. I am talking about investing your time in marketing (meeting people), volunteering, doing research and learning.
- Marketing yourself in most cases is free.
Marketing involves putting your people skills to work. Get out there and network. Talk to your neighbors, teachers, friends, and get involved in your community events. Visit a local family restaurant and offer a family night to drum up business. That alone gives you the opportunity to network with other families in your area. Invest time in people and those people will turn into customers.
- Planning can mean the difference between success and failure.
What am I talking about you say? Suppose it’s a busy weekend and you have three parties booked back to back. Rather than waiting until the day of to punch in the addresses in your GPS and drive frantically from event to event, map out your day on Thursday. Call the party mom’s or event managers to confirm locations and ask for any special instructions. Planning early will eliminate the surprise factor that can cause you to run late, mess up an address, or forget about a road closure that may take you 20 miles out of the way.
- Research is another core component of being successful.
I spend no less than 20-24 hours a week researching trends, color schemes, browsing the web for ideas, new products, reading blogs, answering questions, watching you tube, teaching myself new skills and finding inspiration. If you are a newbie you will want to spend your time browsing the net looking for pricing ideas for your region, local events to market, research what services others are offering and at what prices, and how you can possibly collaborate with local agencies. Being prepared is important because when push comes to shove knowing your worth will mean the difference between ending the day in the red or the black.
Every year I face paint at the largest Hispanic festival in south Florida. Over 100,000 people attend this festival and being prepared pays off. I am hired to face paint the public at no charge. For me it’s a great event because I get paid whether I paint 10 people or 100 people. The difference is that we are allowed to accept tips. So it’s in our best interest to move the line. After several years of doing this event, I have my system down packed. I have a limited display and work from a board. I can paint almost 20 people per hour based on the board designs. I print off the flags of the various Hispanic countries, laminate the sheets and offer them as designs. This formula works to my advantage because I can move quick and my customers are happy.
Last year a local new painter decided to set up shop at the festival. Her first mistake was that she failed to do her research. One, you have to have a permit and insurance to set up a concession at a city festival. Two, she did not bring a table to set up her supplies, so she asked me to share mine. My client that hired me did not want her painting next to me because she didn’t know if she was using proper materials or had proper paperwork, so she made her move. Later that afternoon I saw the poor girl using an empty box as her table. Third, she didn’t come prepared. She did not have pictures for the people to choose from, she had to “look up” the flags on her iPhone, and she didn’t have extra water to use to change out her cup.
After the festival I walked over to her to talk to her and introduce myself. I handed her my card and told her to give me a call and that I’d help her. At first she seemed put off. Perhaps she was slightly embarrassed or didn’t know what my intentions were, but that call is the reason she is now running a successful face painting business.
If she had taken the time to visit the festival and do her research to find out if there were painters at the festival, what designs they were offering, what they were charging, if she was legally able to just show up and paint, what products they were using, etc.., she would not have faced the embarrassing challenges she brought upon herself.
Lastly, I want to stress the importance of learning. I have taken well over 300 classes on just face painting. I try to use any free time I have to watch a FABAtv lesson. Learning helps you be prepared, helps you service your customers better, and helps you gain an advantages over the other painters that only paint three designs or cheek art. For example, one of my favorite customers called and asked me if I could paint her daughters synchronized swimmers team and she was looking for water proof make up. Luckily for me I had just watched a class by Nix Herrera about airbrush make up application and that gave me the knowledge on what to offer her.
Another time when I was hired to paint at a boy scout convention. I stayed up till 3:00 AM watching classes by Mark Reid, Lynne Jamieson, Sammie Bartko, and Wiser just to brush myself up on the designs boys love. Learning is what engages us to try new things, explore beyond our comfort zone of butterflies and princesses, and can open up doors of possibilities. If you are struggling with speed, invest some time in learning techniques to help you speed up your designs without compromising quality. If you are uncertain about how to file your taxes or incorporate as a business in your state, invest time in reading and learning about it on the SBA website or business blogs. Don’t underestimate the importance of investing in yourself. You are selling yourself and your services. It makes perfect sense to be prepared with the right tools, the right knowledge, and the insight about how to do the best job possible.
Having those tools will certainly take you 10 steps in the right direction to create more sales, gather more clients and grow your business.
I write these articles to share my knowledge and help other artists grow. Please feel free to share you business advice with me and our community of painters. If you wish to write for the Faba Blog, contact us.