Elaine, Over half of all new businesses fail in the first five years,
according to statistics from the Small Business Administration. That
means it’s more likely you’ll fail than succeed.
As you say, it’s not like water off a duck’s back, and it requires
more than talent or a good idea. It also requires more than hard
work. It requires money and good planning, and a healthy dollop of
luck. Even successful artists rarely got that way overnight! And
those are things most people with visions dancing in their heads
don’t want to hear. It’s “discouraging.” They want to be encouraged
to pursue their dream: damn the torpedos, full speed ahead! But
unless these are starry eyed adolescents, they should be able to
handle the reality that the money isn’t going to just fall off the
back of a truck.
I say, by all means, encourage your students to pursue their dream
–in a way that might lead to their achieving it. That means studying
marketing as well as metal, writing a business plan, or whatever
else it takes to figure out not just how to start a business, but how
to make money at it.
After 10 years of talking to successful artists, my take on it would
be “it’s not easy, but it can be done.” If your students find that
discouraging, I don’t hold out much hope of their success. They
don’t want to hear about how real people are doing it because it’s
harder than they envision? Definitely not heading for success.
Someone who has what it takes to succeed may be discouraged at first,
but then they’ll ask themselves, “So how can I learn all this stuff?
How can I make it work anyway?” They’ll find your advice extremely
valuable, since it will help them prepare to succeed – not just
encourage them to throw caution to the wind and plunge right in,
whether the venture has any chance of success or not. If they think
you’re discouraging, wait until they encounter the first customer
like those described by you all in our recent thread “worst things a
buyer has said to you”!
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