Although your studio may be based on furthering artistic pursuits, a studio is a business, and a good part of its success depends on being realistic about this. I taught and helped manage one music school where the board of directors hired an orchestra conductor with fundraising expertise as the school’s director. Unfortunately, she’d had no business experience and not only didn’t understand how to make the business work, but didn’t even know how to ask the right questions.
Understanding the business part of your work is essential, but it’s crucial to recognize that size matters. Getting an MBA or reading big business advice books may not give you what you need to handle a small business.
That’s because most studios are small businesses. It is possible, of course, that you are part of a chain of studios. In that case, you may function as a middle manager, and must hew to the budgets and regulations of a larger corporation.
However, since most studios are small businesses, it’s important to realize that a lot of the popular business advice out there may not apply very well to you. Clarifying which business practices suit you and your day-to-day work can have a big impact on how you handle your work, how you can best work with staff, students, and community, and how to handle competition.
I’d like to tell you a couple of brief stories about how I learned that some business “wisdom” was not geared towards my business, and what I did about it.