TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 144 – 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Business


Miriam Schulman:

Well, hey there. It’s Miriam Schulman, host of The Inspiration Place podcast. You’re listening to episode number 144. I am so grateful that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about the five things I wish I knew before I started my art business. Today’s topic was inspired by a prompt I got for an interview. So oftentimes people, when they interview you, they will have, what did you wish you knew before you started your art business? I actually have five things that I wanted to share with you that I wish I knew before I started.

The first one, and you’ve heard me say this on the podcast before, it’s definitely worth kind of underlining and putting a highlight marker through or making a prompt inside your art journal, make a page around this. You’re not going to go any further than your dream. If your dream is too small, that is going to limit you. You must have a dream and you must have a vision, which means you also must have a goal. Not having a goal is kind of like getting into your car and just driving around aimlessly until you run out of gas. I’ve also learned to set the goal beyond the goal. That means I’m always shooting for the stars and casting a big vision to grow my art business. I want to say a few more things about how sometimes we actually lie to ourselves and make that dream smaller than it needs to be.

I sometimes have played it small and I’ve seen many and I’m going to say women here, I’ve seen many women play it too small by saying, “I don’t care about money.” On that, I’m going to call you out. Why are you saying that? Is it because you’re afraid you’re not going to make the money and then it’s going to let you off the hook. Are you worried that you’re going to be a sellout? In the art world I know they like to spread around that mythology. However, if you like things for your family, if you like things like donating for your church, donating for a charity, you can do all those things and make the world a better place and your family a better place when you have more money to do so. So be careful here when you tell yourself you don’t care about money because that might limit your dream.

I know sometimes I self sabotage in other ways, like when I say, “Oh, I don’t care if I lose weight or not,” and the truth is I really do care. When I say things like that, that’s not good. Then I behave in ways that makes me actually gain more weight. I know what’s true about weight and eating and consumption is also true about making money. You have to be honest with yourself. Part of that starts with wanting to dream big and being honest that you want something and it’s okay to want it and own that desire because you’re not going to grow without wanting it because it’s too hard. It’s too uncomfortable. So you have to want it and you have to recognize that you want it.

Okay number two, this is a biggie. The number one is a psychological shift. Number two is something you can take action on right now. So number two, if your dream doesn’t require other people then your dream is too small. The more help I get, the further I go. When I first started, it was all me, all the time. And guess what? That’s really limiting. When I first started getting help, it was just a few hours a week. But even when I started to get help, I still did all the things and I thought I needed to know how to do all the things. Anything I gave my assistant to do, I thought I needed to know how to do it first and then teach her.

But over time I learned that isn’t even true. Instead of investing my time in learning how to do things and then teaching them, spending time teaching, either I hire from the start, someone who already knows how to do the thing, or I pay to have my team members trained, but not by me, trained directly. Either I pay for the course, for them to go through the course. I show them where they can do Kajabi University or MailChimp University or whatever it is that they need to know how to do to help me. Not only does that save me time, because now I’m not learning and spending time teaching them, but they actually learn how to do it better because they’re learning directly from the source.

Like I said, sometimes I’ll just hire directly somebody who already knows how to do it. Like I didn’t train Anna how to edit the podcast. I think that would have been ridiculous. I pay a podcast editor who does it all the time, who knows what he’s doing, who can do it better than anybody else on my team can already do it. That’s the way to get things done. Also, there’s things that you’re doing yourself, should not be done by you, even if you know how to do it. Why? It’s not the best use of your time. Let’s go down through some common things you might be doing that you don’t need to do. How about packing up your artwork? How about framing your artwork? Does it need to be done by you? Probably not. What about spending time on Canva, doing graphics for social media? Does it need to be done by you? Yeah, you can do a good job. It’s probably cheaper to let somebody else do it though, because they’ll spend less time.

Think about what you want to be paid an hour versus what you would pay someone else an hour to do it. All this help that I have right now didn’t happen overnight and perhaps you don’t need all the different kinds of help that I need. You don’t have a podcast, fine. You don’t do graphics and social media, fine. You don’t need all that stuff. But I do suggest you start with what I like to call the business babysitter. So what is the business babysitter? That’s something that I started off doing when I first started hiring help was I would think about the help that I was getting in my business as like the babysitting type of help.

So instead of paying a babysitter to watch my kids, I paid somebody to help me basically babysitting rates. That’s what my first helpers were making, the going rates of babysitters. I started small. I started at $10 an hour for 10 hours a week. Now I probably wouldn’t pay $10 an hour. I think the going rate’s a lot higher. So maybe it’s $15 an hour for 10 hours a week. It’s a small investment to really give you a lot of freedom because it’s not just that your time is limited. Your energy is limited. You might have more hours in the day and be willing to put in more hours, but it’s going to drain you of all your energy. So if you want to grow big this year, get help, hire help.

Number three, relationships are your greatest currency. Getting help is super important. I can’t underestimate it, but just as important is connecting with other people and building a network. So connections are important, not just for finding new clients, new art collectors. So in my case, new art collectors, more art students, also coaching clients, but it also increases your opportunities for more exposure for your business, collaborations for your business, and also keeping your pulse on what’s relevant, so ideas for your business. I live by the motto that motivational speaker, Jim Rohn shares, who famously said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” That’s why I invest in masterminds. I hang out with people who don’t think it’s weird to hire a team. I hang out with people that don’t think it’s weird to have a big income goal, who don’t think that having a big income goal is being a sellout. That’s what I mean by relationships are your greatest currency.

Invest in hanging out with people, both investing your time and sometimes your money, in hanging out with people who are going to stretch the way you think and stretch the way you go. I invest in masterminds. I go to business conferences, some of those conferences are more directed towards art, like art retreats, or they’re just focused on art business. Some of them aren’t. Some of them are just focused on learning how to market or learning how to build a membership site or just to hang out with my business besties. I’ve done that quite often, where I’ve taken trips to hang out with people who live across the country, because I know hanging out with them is going to stretch me. So I invest my time in spending time with people, I invest my money in these activities. I also spend time investing in planning activities.

So I don’t wait for other people to plan them for me. Pre-COVID, I used to have a business launch every month in New York City and I can’t wait to get started with that again. During the pandemic, I spent time making virtual coffee dates, which I would plan and I would organize and get people together. One of the things I used to share with my children is that, when they were children, if you want to be invited to the party, the best way to do that is plan the party yourself. That’s still true today. So I will plan that business lunch. I will plan that get together. I will plan that virtual coffee date, even if I don’t make money from it, because I know how important it is for me to hang out with my peers, how that expands the way I think and it keeps me from slipping back into limited thinking and small dreams.

All right, number four. This is a big one. Number four is there will never be a right time and it’s sister unhelpful thought, you’ll never feel ready. So there’ll never be a right time and you’ll never feel ready. So just like investing, it’s always better to get in on an investment early and there’s no better investment than yourself. That’s why I’m so glad I left the “safety” of the hedge fund paycheck to start my career as a portrait artist before it was the perfect time. Now that I’m fully in my business, there’s been lots of milestones where I’ve done things way before I felt ready. Some of those work out, by the way, and some of them don’t, just so you know, but I am willing to fail. In fact, one thing, and I would even say, this might even be a bonus thing though.

Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people aren’t. Somebody else might’ve said that, I don’t remember who it is, if there’s like a quote floating around, maybe it’s been attributed to several people actually, but I’m willing to fail is really what that means. I’m willing to try things that may not work out. What’s one of the things that I started before I felt ready? This podcast. Launching my first online class, that was another one. You know what I had huge imposter syndrome around? The book. That’s why it took me so long to send out the proposal. But once I started sending out the query letters, those are the cover letters you send the agents and started getting back yeses, I was like, “Wait, what?” I honestly thought that I would have to write my agent, the one I signed a contract with and tell her she made a mistake and I won’t be writing a book after all. Meanwhile, I was wrong. So we have a great contract from a really great top-tier publisher.

I can’t wait to share the details of it with you. I can’t share it yet because as of this recording, it’s not official, but that was yet something else that I thought I wasn’t going to be ready for. You just have to make a decision to jump off that high dive and do something that makes you really, really uncomfortable because the truth is you are not going to get to the place where you feel comfortable. I’m going to do a whole podcast around it in the future that’s called, “Why it’s so Hard to Make a Decision,” but I will kind of tease you about what that’s about right now. Many of us think that when something feels uncomfortable, that we have to think about it longer until it feels comfortable and that is never the case. Giving ourselves more time never makes us feel more comfortable. That’s why you’ll never feel ready because giving yourself time, more time, does not make you feel more ready.

If anything, you’re going to start to think of reasons why it’s a terrible idea because that’s what your brain is going to do to keep you safe. I’m going to talk about that a little more in number five. So number five, building a business takes courage. We’ve all heard it said, it takes money to make money, and yes, this is true. But building a business is really more about your courage than anything else. Everything I’ve mentioned so far, from one through four, takes courage, whether that’s dreaming big, hiring help, reaching out to new people, or taking risks. Those are kind of the way I would sum up one, dreaming big, two, hiring help, three, reaching out to new people, four, taking risks, number five, courage.

Now courage does not mean you aren’t afraid. In fact, courage usually implies there is fear, but you’re doing it anyway, even though it makes you feel uncomfortable. So let’s talk about that discomfort right now and what’s happening to us inside our brains, you’ve may have heard me talk about this before. I’m going to talk about it again. If you don’t want to hear it, you can hit that fast forward, but this is super important. So as humans, we’ve evolved to stay alive. In fact, all animals have evolved to stay alive. So what does that mean? Our brains have evolved that anytime we are doing something new, we’re going to feel uncomfortable and when we feel uncomfortable, our brain is going to be afraid and when our brain is afraid, it’s going to come up with all kinds of reasons why it’s a terrible idea, why this won’t work.

If you’re thinking of these “reasons,” these are the doubts that your brain is coming up with to keep you safe, because it doesn’t want you to take a risk. It wants you to stay comfortable because they know when you’re comfortable, you are safe. If you’re uncomfortable, they know you’re taking a risk. Your brain knows this. Your brain has been designed to keep you safe and the smarter you are, my friend, the more reasons you’re going to come up with why something is a bad idea. Now, notice I’m not calling them excuses. You know why? When you’re making an excuse, it feels like an excuse. The problem is when your brain is coming up with these reasons, these doubts, they don’t feel like excuses. They feel real. They feel really real. So when you hear yourself coming up with those things, just recognize, that’s your brain keeping you safe, telling you to play it small, telling you to go back in the cave and not to take a risk, not to do it.

Don’t listen to that. Don’t listen to that second voice. You need to get uncomfortable. You need it. You need to take a risk to move forward. What happens when we have all these doubts? Listen, when you have doubts, that’s when you start to feel confused. That’s when you’re going to start to research things. You’re going to research things, you know what’s going to happen? You’re going to feel overwhelmed because now you’re going to have more information, more information, more reasons. When you’re confused or overwhelmed, what happens? Usually, you do nothing. You’re back in the cave, either procrastinating or buffering or wasting your time or spinning. So that’s why I invite you to have courage. There will never be a right time. Go out there and meet new people. Relationships are your greatest currency and if your dream doesn’t require other people, you’re dreaming too small. And finally, just remember, you’re not going to go any further than your dream.

All right, my friend, thanks so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place, next week. Stay inspired.

Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at, on Instagram at SchulmanArt, and of course on


Subscribe & Review in iTunes

Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!

Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!