2011 is coming to an end… this time of year always makes me feel like I’m at a crossroads and I begin to take stock of things.  I look back at the past year and make a list of all the things that have gone well and that I’m grateful for – both in my business and in my life.

Then I look forward and I think about what I want for the coming year – what things do I want to keep from 2011 and what things could be changed and improved?  And if I want changes – what do I need to do to make them happen?

Here are four tips for making 2012 your best art business year yet…

ONE – Don’t do things the way you always have just because.

Look at how you do things and decide if they are working at an optimal level.  Is there anything you can improve upon?  For example, what did you do last year to let manufacturers know about your art – or to let agents know you were looking for representation if you’d rather not do your own marketing?  Were you happy with the results or would you like to make them even better?  What can you try differently?  Make a list of ideas and then track the results on any new ideas.  Trial and error is often the best way to determine what will work best for you and your business.

TWO – Look for ways to reduce your expenses.

Hopefully you act as a business and keep track of all of the expenses you incur for your art business, separate from your personal expenses.  Take a look at how you spent your money in 2011 and then decide if it was worth it or if the expenses could be changed in any way.  I changed from using Paychex for my payroll processing to Intuit Payroll.  While I spend a little more time each month on accounting and submitting the information each month (maybe 45 minutes a month) – I’ve saved about $900.  Well worth it!  Where can you trim your expenses by changing the way you do things?   Are you spending money on things you don’t need to anymore?

THREE – Maintain the relationships you have built.

While it is easy to always go after new business to build your business, often the best business is with your current clients.  They know you, you know them, hopefully you have a good track record together.  Spend as much time – if not more – fostering the relationships you have as you do trying to build new ones.

FOUR – Don’t forget what makes you unique.

What makes you and your art special in the very competitive field of art licensing?  Don’t try to be a “me too” artist if you see something that seems to be working for others.  Instead, always search for a way that you can bring something unique to the table – that is where you will truly find success.

Every business, like the economy, goes through ups and downs.

It is important to stay positive, stay focused and never assume that what seems to be working is the best way to get something done.  By regularly looking at your business you just might find ways to make things work faster and better!

Wishing you much success!

– Tara Reed