This year could potentially be the most successful one for your art gallery. I’m sure you have high hopes not only for this year but also for your art gallery’s long-term future. In order to achieve your business goals, it is crucial to equip yourself with the right tools and mindset. Your execution of plans should be just as strong as your vision for the business, staff, and artists.
At times, it can be challenging to gain clarity on your vision, establish appropriate goals, and develop a plan to reach them. It can feel like a monumental task, considering the numerous factors at play:
- The constant influx and departure of artists
- The ever-changing needs and preferences of clients
- Uncertainties regarding the gallery’s location
- The highs and lows experienced at art fairs
Vision and Business Goals for the Year Ahead
Take some time to reflect on your vision for your art gallery business and set clear goals for the upcoming year. Find a quiet space where you can concentrate without interruptions. As you begin to define your goals, ask yourself the following questions to gain clarity and specificity:
- What would achieving this goal bring you?
- Why is this goal particularly significant?
- What risks are involved in pursuing this goal?
- What has prevented you from achieving this goal so far? What obstacles do you face?
- What can you do differently now to overcome these challenges?
By answering these questions, you can better understand the bigger picture and move closer to your goals. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself with too many goals. (I’ve learned this from personal experience.) Feeling overwhelmed by being overly ambitious can hinder your progress toward realizing your vision.
To narrow your focus, consider each aspect of your business individually, as they all contribute to overall success. Let’s explore some examples.
- Would reducing the exhibition schedule by a few shows help save on operating costs?
- What percentage of your operating budget goes to shows, and is there another area of the business that needs those funds more?
- If shows ran longer, could you improve the narrative and engagement levels of the show, art, and artists for your audience?
- By extending the duration of your typical shows by a week or two, what innovative programs and experiences can you develop?
- Should you show art in new locations, either locally or regionally, via pop-ups and partnerships?
- Would it be beneficial to take a show on the road to increase awareness of the gallery or a particular artist’s solo work to a new audience in a market that fits the exhibition well?
Sales and Marketing
- Should you invest in tools that give you greater insight into your prospective collector’s buying habits, preferences, and interests?
- What sales and marketing goals could be achieved by investing in advanced software that can aid in relationship management through the use of gallery CRM software, email marketing tools, web and social analytics, etc.
- Would adjustments to your gallery program or artist roster meet a need currently not met by others in your market?
- How would adjusting these fundamentals help give you a competitive advantage?
- Do marketing materials need to be audited and refreshed to resonate better with your target art buyers?
- Is the messaging still compelling, or should a different format for marketing materials be used to better connect with your ideal client?
- Will you apply to new fairs this year or reduce participation?
- How do art fairs fit into your overall sales and marketing objectives for the year? What lessons are there to consider from the pandemic and global recession?
- Will you emphasize staff training and outsourcing specific tasks to increase efficiency and better enable you to focus on business development and leadership?
- What skill gaps exist in yourself and your staff? Is it better to train internally or hire outside experts?
- Are there any roles you need to hire new staff to focus on development or enable someone else’s role to evolve to something different?
- Is time best utilized by leadership and staff? Would additional full or part-time staff empower the growth of the business?
- Do you need to consult a financial or business strategy advisor?
- Would it be beneficial to seek guidance on particular areas of the gallery to overcome specific challenges or gain a fresh perspective?
- Will you change your business model?
- Is your current way of doing business capable of accomplishing your goals and maintaining growth momentum. If not, what innovations could be tried to update your gallery’s program or business model?
A practical method for developing goals is by using SMART goals criteria. This methodology has become the gold standard used today by planners in many industries.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable/Attainable, Realistic (that’s a big one), and Time-bound. Here is an example.
Goal – Increase my gallery mailing list.
SMART Goal – Increase my gallery mailings with qualified buyers by 200 by expanding my marketing channels and referrals by the end of the year.
Once you have a list of potential goals for the gallery, go back and ensure they apply to the SMART goal criteria. It helps tremendously in realizing your vision throughout the year when you structure goals this way.
Outlining your art gallery’s business goals is just the first step. Next, create milestones for each goal. These are smaller targets you need to hit on the way to your more significant objective. Focus on one aim at a time when shaping your action plan. This helps keep things manageable and maintains focus. Each milestone should answer two questions:
- What needs to happen to reach the goal?
- When do you want to achieve each milestone within the plan?
After identifying all necessary milestones, list the smaller tasks needed. This breaks down the process into an easy-to-follow path towards your vision.
Once you finish all milestones, you’ve reached your goal! High Five! Keep track of your exhibition calendar and travel schedules while setting dates for milestones and tasks. Remember, if your gallery is in a resort area, specific busy seasons may exist. Don’t set unachievable deadlines.
Bigger goals will need longer timelines, more milestones, and more steps. Smaller goals might only need a few actions and no milestones. That’s fine.
Recall the SMART goal criteria. It applies to milestones and tasks, too. We haven’t discussed measurability yet. How do you make sure you’re on course? Measuring progress can motivate you to push forward.
Take increasing your mailing list as an example. You could track your progress by setting milestones of adding 50 new prospects to your list every quarter.
Some goals can be measured with stats or numbers. Maybe you want to boost revenue by 15%. How much is that in dollars? Consider setting quarterly milestones for sales revenue. The same goes for expanding your collector base by a certain amount.
Other goals might be measurable over time. For instance, if you’re adopting new software, you could track progress by the deadlines you set for milestones and tasks.
To the Point
Accomplishing your goals will be reliant on consistent action. Your goals will not be achieved if you do not commit to executing your plan every day.
Review the previous year as a guide for what goals might be most impactful in the new year and prioritize a timeline. You need a proper plan and a positive mindset to turn your vision for your art gallery business into a reality. Don’t put this plan together here and there as you find the time. Dedicate some quiet time away from distractions so you have the best chance for clarity about what success looks like in the new year.
If you get stuck or frustrated, you can always reach out to me for help. I would love to support you as you take your gallery business into a bright future.
You may also enjoy these related articles