For many tattoo artist, owning a shop is a dream-come-true. But, owning a business is about more than simply finding an empty building and moving in.
The successful tattoo business owner has to wear a lot of hats to keep everything running smoothly.
Here are five secrets to use in setting up a successful tattoo business…
Secret #1 – Location Really Is Everything
You often hear people talk about how the three most important aspects of real estate are location, location, and location. While that may be a bit simplistic, it is still kind of accurate. Choosing the location for a tattoo shop can absolutely make or break the business. There are few guidelines to keep in mind when choosing your location. For one, you want to consider your clientele and make yourself available in areas where they are. If you want to tattoo soccer moms or college co-eds, you might choose to have a space near other retail outlets. If you are looking for a rowdier crowd, maybe head toward a rougher part of town. No matter where you’re setting up, though, you want to know that the population can handle another tattoo shop. Being the best at what you do will certainly help, but if there are just too many shops in a small area, all of the tattoo businesses will suffer, with the newer ones potentially going under first.
Secret #2 – Write a Business Plan
If you’re looking for outside funding (say, from a bank), then a business plan may be a necessity. Even if it isn’t, though, any new business owner should consider creating one before opening the doors. Creating a business plan forces you to consider aspects of the business that may have never occurred to you otherwise, and being prepared for them puts you at an incredible advantage down the road. There are fewer surprises, for sure, but the process also allows you to envision where you want the business to go and to create a sort of road map for how to get there. Once the business plan is written, you can use it to guide your decision-making process, keeping in mind that it’s not written in stone and you can revise and alter it when appropriate.
Secret #3 – Treat Your Business Like a Business
Face it, one of the best reasons to start a business is so that you can do things the way you want and so you can enjoy the experience. One way to do this is by surrounding yourself with people you like. This is great and can create an awesome atmosphere in the shop. On the other hand, it can be a business owner’s downfall. Working with your friends is great, but having your friends slack off while you pay the bills is not so cool. Be sure that everyone is aware of the policies of the shop and that when you bring in artists and other staff members they know that they are not above following the rules. More than one friendship has been torn apart by a business relationship, so rather than risking both, it makes sense to have contracts in place and expect everyone to abide by them.
A business owner is kind of like a juggler with dozens of balls in the air at a time. There’s payroll to make and rent to pay and distributors to meet with and health inspections to pass. Oh, and working with customers and actually doing some art, too. How can one person do it all? The answer is that one person probably shouldn’t do it all. There will be areas in which the business owner really excels. On the other hand, there are areas that really should have professional attention. For example, the contracts mentioned above should really be created by a transactional lawyer. It’s very likely worthwhile to hire a part-time bookkeeper rather than to try and do all the accounting yourself. You may also want to work with a marketing company to develop a strategy for bringing in customers and keeping your artists busy. The best approach is to determine which things you’re good at, as well as which things you enjoy, and then bring in the “big guns” for the other tasks.