Van Gogh. Everybody has heard his name and seen at least one photo of his paintings online. They probably even know about the yellow paint and the ear thing. But all of that aside, the genius of Van Gogh was that he was a true artist. He painted the world as he saw it and let the viewer experience it too.
Sadly, he wasn’t very good at business. In fact, from what I can tell he was bad at it. It’s reported that he only sold one painting in his entire life. That sucks, but the truth is we probably all know someone like that, or we are someone like that. Talented but lacking the confidence to sell our work and not have to eat ramen every night (or Kraft Dinner if you’re Canadian).
If it makes you feel any better, I found myself in that exact situation. I like writing and I want to make a living from it. I should be out there tapping the keys until someone showers me with cash, right? Instead, I was working every other job you could think of. I was running away from my true calling.
That’s how I found myself spending a Tuesday afternoon in a Zoom meeting watching Chris Do teach a group of people how to scale from zero. I was surprised to see over 700 people, all of whom ran their own business or wanted to start. The advice shared during the hour was practical and immediately applicable.
The takeaway? Most creatives don’t think like business owners, and they need to start.
Obviously, there are artists, creatives, writers, and designers who have all found a way to get paid the big bucks for their work. Just look at Jeff Koons or Yayoi Kusama who have both sold millions of dollars worth of art and worked with huge brands like Louis Vuitton. They weren’t afraid to put their art on display and they also weren’t afraid of making some straight up suit and tie deals either.
When I first met Chris Do, I was nervous and not sure what to expect. On the screen he has an air of mystery. There are moments that he comes across as cold or tough, he certainly isn’t afraid to tell you how it is. Other times he’s telling jokes and making people laugh. The biggest question I had was, why spend all this time teaching others? There are easier ways of making money.
The truth, as I see it, is that Chris is a teacher through and through. Nobody spends hours a day giving people halfway around the world individual time and attention unless it fuels their sense of purpose. Whether we want to admit it or not, we need people like Chriss. Hell, Van Gogh needed someone like Chris, because he knows how to turn an artist into a business owner without killing the creative.
Here’s 11 things I learned from Chris about scaling from zero:
- Make a list of possible services that you can offer someone regardless of how realistic it is
- Rate each service on a scale from 1-10 based on three things: personal fulfillment, value to market, and profitability
- Add each column up with a maximum score of 30. What is the highest rated service?
- Think of your ideal customer. What do they do? What do they need? What do they want?
- Craft a no brainer offer, something so good they can’t refuse. (Godfather style)
- Complete a market audit. Who else is doing the same thing? What is their price? How are you different?
- Get some experience. Gain some social proof. Offer to do a job for free in exchange for a case study.
- Start to pitch your services to others for money.
- Collect client quotes as you go.
- Continue to work your way up in price.
- Under promise and overdeliver.
That’s a pretty quick rundown of how to get started making money from your skills but it works. Most people want to feel like they’re making the right decision when giving someone their dough. It’s your job to ease their anxieties and deliver one hell of a product.
Chances are you’ll probably be a lot happier slinging your talents for cash instead of working a soul sucking call centre job… unless that’s your passion. If it is you might not have a soul to suck.
All jokes aside, I began to see business as art form. “Pricing is a little bit science and a little bit art,” Chris said, before picking up a Batman figurine and giving everyone his best Batman impression. In this modern digital world, it might seem like everyone is living their dreams, making money online, and living on the beach. You might see other creatives and wonder how they’re able to support themselves. Why are you, the starving artist, living in a van down by the river? And why is Chris Farley there with you?
All I know is that the man behind The Futur knows a thing or two about turning art into business and business into art. He helps the dreamers, and he certainly helps the doers. Let this be the mindset shift you need to get started, take action, and become addicted to success.