Starting a business?

Avatar for camilionag
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2003
Starting a business?
Wed, 08-15-2012 - 9:21am

I have reached the glass ceiling in my career and my salary has been the same for the past 3 years. I get 3% raises which is a joke because that doesn't cover the rate of inflation. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and start a business while keeping my day job to make the salary I feel I deserve.

I'm going to start an online art gallery and when I building up my client list I will move to a location. I am hoping to gain advice from anyone that is self employed or runs a business. My main concern is that I'm selling a luxury item. And as much as we don't want to admit it, people sometimes do not take you seriously if you are selling an item that they feel you can't afford. Maybe I'm wrong.

I'm thinking of buying a luxury car. If I do, I will buy it cash from a car auction and save a lot of money but do you think this is a good idea? I will still have money in my savings but I will have even more if I don't buy the car. My current car is fine but it does not say "successful business woman".

Would you trust an art dealer selling art for $10K plus while she doesn't look like she could afford it? How important is image in the luxury business?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-08-2008
Sun, 08-19-2012 - 2:13am
Is this really true? Do you have proof of this?

I have stayed away from this thread for fear my advice would be negative. My first reaction to your thread was that you want the flashy car/successful outerwear bc you don't have feel successful within. That you need the self esteem boost.

My Dh opened a small side business in video. He felt the same way you did but I refused to pay for any flash. I had us doing national PSAs and getting national write ups in magazines recommending our stuff. All within the FIRST month - no money spent except the equipment my DH already had. I networked and I put myself out there. Which is the hardest part of business. Approaching a complete stranger and pitching your idea...

But I wish you the best of luck. And I do hope you follow your dream.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Fri, 08-17-2012 - 5:12pm
Cam, yea...I can see where you are coming from. It is a catch 22.

I stopped "advertising" myself when I was out and about because I got tired of feeling like I always had to be "on." I am still mindful, because I do run into customers, (i.e. I don't wear pajama pants to the store).

Good luck!
Avatar for camilionag
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2003
Thu, 08-16-2012 - 4:24pm

@ Serenity - Your post was very helpful and I thank you! I giggled because I also remember studying art history & appreciation in school and the professors were "strange". But the art community is unusual. The artist can behave and look any kind of way because they are artistic, but a gallery owner, broker, or artist representative is expected to be classy, worldly, successful. Similar to a real estate agent selling high end homes, If they look broke than clients wonder if they have sold many homes and therefore questioning their knowledge of the market / their clients. Make sense? I 100% agree that I don't have to go broke trying to chase an image either. I'll take things slow.

@ Marketing Virgo - Your idea of finding a mentor is great! Or even networking with other professionals to help each other. Thanks!!

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Thu, 08-16-2012 - 2:58pm
My suggestion is to find a mentor in the area or with the kind of clientle you wish to attract to offer suggestions. People love to help others and maybe a successful realtor would be a good mentor, a financial planner to folks you are trying to attract or even car sales people attracting those kinds of folks. They might even be open to holding events at your place of business when up and running.
I would not get a new car just for looks unless yours is a beater.

One thing to keep in mind, Warren Buffet never buys a new car!
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 08-16-2012 - 1:26pm
I understand your concern about image.

I have a home business that does deal with image. It is in direct sales, and here are a few examples of what we are taught in training:

If you put the company logo on your car, make sure your car is always clean and presentable. When I had a car with body damage, I did not put the logo on my car. I still had no choice but to drive that car. All I could do is keep it clean.

Don't go broke trying have everything all at once you think you "need." You could wear the same skirt to every event with a different top and know one would ever know. Take advantage of consignment shops for professional attire.

Take a percentage of the profits to slowly build the kind of work space, wardrobe, vehicle, etc. over time.

So Cam, just like you are starting on-line before renting studio space, the same applies with everything else.

Image is somewhat relative to the career, but you are right that you do have to be mindful. I don't have get dressed to the T to go Walmart, but I am mindful that I do, in fact, run into customers when I am out and about. I need to be suited to the environment.

Yes, you want to carry yourself in a professional manner, but you also want to be equals, and not better than your customers.

I don't know much about Art, and maybe this is judgemental, when I took art in school, the instructors were far from anything I would call "professional" and it was actually all a little bit messy. Paint, ink, developer, etc.

So I don't know, maybe I am totally of base here, so I don't want to offend. But would a customer really expect the artist to pull up in a high end car or rig?

Anywho, hopefully some little tid bit in there was helpful.

p.s. don't forget some people are not even getting raises, so be grateful. Trust me, I know how it feels. :smileyhappy:
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Wed, 08-15-2012 - 7:32pm

What kind of art do you plan to focus on? 

If I were spending $10,000 on a piece of artwork, it is not a major concern whether the dealer can or cannot afford that herself, but I will want to know what her education and trainings are, how good are her research skills, and if she can provide water-proof provenance, etc.

Avatar for camilionag
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-11-2003
Wed, 08-15-2012 - 11:40am

Thank you for your reply. I believe my question has a great deal to do with starting a business in regards to spending money initially on self-image or saving the money for capital. I have read countless articles that talk about the importance of self-image when starting a business. Your speech, clothes, mannerisms, etc all play a part if people want to do business with you. My gallery would not stay online  but move to a location once I build my reputation and clients. To answer your question when promoting my business I would meet prospective clients in person by attending other events, and I would hold monthly exhibits. Normally relationships are built first.

I'm glad to hear that you (as a buyer) would not judge a seller on his/her ability to buy the product being sold.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2009
Wed, 08-15-2012 - 10:44am

I cannot imagine purchasing a 10K work of art online, unless it was of some significance and was handled by a reputable art dealer or auction house like Sotheby's. How would anyone considering purchasing a luxury item know whether or not YOU could afford it? I don't think that would matter in any case, it's no concern to me (as a buyer) whether you can afford to purchase what you are selling.

As for the luxury car, buy what you want and can afford. I have never dealt with car auctions so I'd only say go with one with a decent reputation and rating from previous clients. I don't see how this has anything to do with wanting to start a business.