5 Sharing the experience
Another way to obtain support is through collaboration. You can do this more formally by creating a business partnership or collective, or on a more ad hoc basis – collaborating only when you need particular expertise and experience from someone else.
A co-founder or business partner
Your business might be based on products, services or ideas that require the expertise of more than one person to deliver. If this is likely to be consistently the case for your business, and both sets of expertise are equally important, you might consider a more formal partnership structure. For example, setting up a studio with another photographer in order to share the costs, responsibilities and workload, or creating corporate films where one of you does the filming and lighting and the other does the sound recording.
But there are pros and cons to that approach, as outlined by Backman (2018):
- Getting an extra set of experience and expertise – especially if your partner’s background is different to yours.
- Having a second perspective when making business decisions – someone to act as a sounding board when you’re doubting yourself.
- Someone to share the load of day-to-day operations and tasks – might allow you to have a better work–life balance.
- Someone to share the cost with – you can spread the financial risk if they are willing to put up some capital as well.
- Loss of a certain degree of autonomy – you’re accountable to another person.
- Running the risk of disagreements and clashes.
- Giving up a share of the business profits.
Backman (2018) also offers this advice:
If you are going to enlist the help of a business partner, be sure to vet that person extensively before moving forward. Learn about his or her experience, philosophy, and work style before making your partnership official. Just as importantly, make certain you’re on the same page with regard to the specific venture you’re partnering up on. You might have a certain vision for your business, and if it doesn’t align with your partner’s, it could be a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, if you find the right partner, getting that second person on board could end up being the best decision you ever make for your business – and yourself.
A starting point might be to undertake a shorter collaborative project and work out whether your styles and approaches are compatible.
It would also be advisable to get a formal partnership agreement drawn up from the outset, as this can save difficult problems if things go wrong further down the line.
Forming a collective
The Tate (no date) defines an art collective as ‘a group of artists working together to achieve a common objective’. It goes on to explain that ‘artists working within a collective are united by shared ideologies, aesthetics and, or, political beliefs.’
In her Art Business Journal article, Audra Lambert (2020) shares this advice on how to set up your own artist collective:
- Stay in touch with peers from your arts education, or other relevant experience, and start conversations around collaborating on artwork.
- Initiate a collaboration by working together on a single exhibition or artwork – then you can see how any ongoing partnership would work.
- Join social media groups on platforms such as Facebook and try to identify artists with similar interests.
When it comes to thinking about individuals who can help or be useful to you, you might be surprised by who you know or are distantly connected to already.