It’s a new year full of possibilities. It might be your gallery’s best year ever. I bet you have big plans and hopes for the year and perhaps the decade ahead.
To make those goals realities, you must equip yourself with both the proper tools and mindset. Your plan execution needs to be as strong as your vision for the business, your staff, and artists!
Sometimes it can be hard to get clarity around your vision, set the right goals, and create a plan to get there.
It can feel monumental. There are always so many moving parts:
- Artists coming and going
- Client’s needs and tastes changing
- Location uncertainties
- Art fair successes and disappointments
Establishing Goals for your Gallery Business
First, focus on your vision and developing goals for the year ahead.
Set aside a few hours of quiet, uninterrupted time to focus on what you really want for your art gallery business in the year ahead. As you start to define goals, consider the following questions to help you get specific, and find clarity about each goal you establish.
- What would you gain by achieving this goal??
- Why is this goal so significant?
- What risks would you take while pursuing this goal?
- Why didn’t you achieve this goal already? What’s stopping you?
- What can you do differently now?
By answering some of these questions, you may be able to get closer to the big picture. Having too many goals is not always a good thing. (I speak from experience here) Feeling overwhelmed by being over-ambitious in this process will only hurt your chances of realizing your vision.
To help narrow your focus, consider each area of your business separately that contributes to overall success when defining your goals. Let’s look at some examples.
- Would reducing the exhibition schedule by a few shows help save on operating costs?
- If shows ran longer, could you create new programs and experiences for your audience to engage with the art and artist?
- Should you show art in new locations, either locally or regionally, via pop-ups and partnerships?
Sales and Marketing
- Should you invest in new software that gives you greater insight into your prospective collector’s buying habits, preferences, and interests? Relationship management will continue to be a priority with the help of gallery CRM software, email marketing tools, web, and social analytics, etc.
- Would adjustments to your gallery program or artist roster meet a need that is currently not being met by others in your market?
- Do marketing materials need to be audited and refreshed to resonate better with your target art buyers?
- Will you apply to new fairs this year or reduce participation?
- Will you put a greater emphasis on staff training and outsourcing specific tasks to increase efficiency and better enable you to focus on business development and leadership?
- Are there any roles for which you need to hire new staff to focus on a new sales channel or service?
- Do you need to consult a financial advisor?
- Will you change your 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 that stands 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 through 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. You will find it helps tremendously in realizing your vision throughout the year when you structure goals this way.
Once you have your goals outlined, the next step is to start creating milestones for each goal. Milestones are intermediate goals that you need to accomplish along the path to your larger goal. Work on one goal at a time to develop your action plan. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed and losing focus. Your milestones need to address two things.
- What specifically needs to happen to accomplish the goal?
- By what specific date do you want to achieve each milestone within the action plan for the goal?
With all required milestones identified, list all the smaller tasks you’ll need to undertake to reach each milestone. See how it all breaks down into a clear path to making your vision a reality.
Once all milestones are completed, you’ll reach your goal! High Five! As you are putting dates to milestones and tasks, keep an eye on your exhibition calendar and travel schedules. Your gallery may have a distinctive busy season if you are in a resort area. Don’t schedule unrealistic timelines.
Larger goals will obviously require longer timelines and more milestones and steps, but other goals may only need a few steps and no milestones. That’s ok.
Remember the SMART goal criteria. It applies to milestones and tasks as well. We have not yet talked about measurability in the requirements. How do you make sure you stay on track and maintain momentum? Measuring progress can be a powerful motivator to press on.
From the example above about increasing your mailing list, you could measure your progress on this goal by creating milestones of adding 50 new qualified prospects to your list each quarter.
Some goals might be measurable with statistics or numbers. You might want to increase revenue by 15%. What does that equate to in currency? You could set quarterly milestones for sales revenue. Same if you’re going to increase your collector base by X amount.
Other goals might be measurable by time. For example, if you are adopting a new software tool, you could measure progress by the time 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 to prioritize a timeline. To turn your vision for your art gallery business into a reality, you need a proper plan and a positive mindset. 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.