The Need for Focus :
Why We Need It And How To Get It
Over the last week or so, we have been looking at key or important business skills, of which there are 15 skills we are addressing. We are up to the eighth skill, Strategic analysis or why we need to focus and how to get it. We could write a number of blogs on this topic alone and we will be doing just that. For now, we’ll hit the tip of the iceberg.
Why is it important to have a focus on what you are doing, have an understanding of your competition and the knowledge to assess and implement your plans? Let’s take a look at some interesting statistics from the NAMTA study conducted in 2009 on the art world. I think after we look at these, you’ll see the need for obtaining your focus and planning your future.
The NAMTA study revealed:
- There are 4.4 Million Artists with a fading line of distinction between Professional and what NAMTA phrased as Recreational artists. There are 600,000 professional artists and 600,000 college students taking art classes. There are 122,000 art degree seeking college students.
- Let’s compare how being an artist is to being an Engineer (Chemical and Mechanical Engineer, for example). In 2008, there were 1.6 Million Engineering jobs. The competition for engineering jobs is pretty fierce and, just think, there are over 2 times more artists than there are engineers.
- There are 661,400 physicians and surgeons in the United States in 2008. That’s over 6 times more artists than there are doctors!
- $4 Billion on art-related materials and services are spent by these 4.4 million active artists. $2.1-2.6 Billion on art supplies alone. (Anybody need to earn some money to buy supplies?)
- Market growth is about 4% per year. (so that means in 2010 we can estimate 5.2 Million Artists, in 2011, an estimated 5.9 Million Artists).
- Artwork created: Professional Artist create about 75 pieces per year. Recreational artists create about 36 pieces per year and students create about 57 pieces per year. (That is a lot of artwork to compete against in shows, gallery space, museums…)
If the above statistics don’t show you just how competitive today’s art market is, then we have no idea how to get that point across to you. As mentioned above, as we attract more consumers to this fast growing area, the line between Professional Artist and Recreational Artist is fading. This means that if you want to earn a living at this thing we love to do, we need to understand our competition and know where we want to apply our focus and skills to live the artist life.
Strategic Planning incorporates a lot of different areas, but areas that most have heard of before. Things like competitive analysis, marketing strategy, business plans, advertising strategy to name a few. The definition of strategy is (according to Johnson and Scholes) “ the direction and scope of an organization over the long-term: which achieves advantage for the organization through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfill stakeholder expectations”.
Well, that’s great if you are a huge corporation, right? We don’t have stakeholders, right? Nope. Your stakeholders are your collectors. The people who will invest in your work because they see a future, talent in you and hope that their investment continues to appreciate in value–those people are your stakeholders. To attract more collectors, you need to be able to show your progress or growth over the years and express, in a not so business way, where you want to go in the future. To express this in a not so business way, you need to understand your strategy for growth and where you are going.
One quick way and fairly easy way to start mapping out your future is to create an “OGSM”. The May Edition of The Artist’s Magazine printed an article by Linda on how to create this important document (Do Artists Need An OGSM? Page 84 & 85). We are also in post-production with a video on creating an OGSM that will be offered on the site in the very near future. In the video, Linda walks you through the creation of an OGSM not only focusing on a business objective, but also incorporates using this tool with a focus on improving art skills. So stay tuned!!
OGSM stands for Objective, Goals, Strategies and Measurements. It can be written with 1, 3 and 5 year goals and the supporting strategies for reaching those goals. The measurement area can track your progress against those goals. It is a very handy tool for providing you with a way to focus on your growth and skills.
Another tool is a marketing plan. As part of this tool, you need to know your competition and you need to know what it is that is unique to you. We’ll discuss a Marketing plan in another blog in the near future. There also will be a article in The Artist’s Magazine in the July/August issue written by Linda. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and keep an eye out for magazine article due on news stands in June 2011.
We highly recommend that if only do one thing, create the OGSM, so that you can bring focus to what you are doing and what you want to accomplish. If you are painting because you enjoy it, that is wonderful! (We all do, right?) Make sure you continue to grow and learn, so that the enjoyment continues to grow with you. There is so much to explore in this world of art. We all know we are on a journey. A little focus on what we are doing and where we want to go is like planning that ultimate painting that brings us the elation that leads us to start the next one. And before that brush hits the canvas, we have a plan and what we want it to look like. Focusing on the skills is what enables us to get to the elation. Let’s enjoy the journey more with a little focus on our objectives, goals, strategies and measurements. Just think of the celebration we can have in a year!!!