I once saw a painting called Contemplation on Emptiness, and it fulfilled me. It was so insanely gorgeous -- the colors, the subject, the pure grace of the piece -- that my soul was rocked. Unfortunately, buying it would also rock my bank account. I fought the urge. I battled my internal voice. And then, well, I snuck it into our family’s budget, and I bought it.
Very sneaky on my part.
About 24 hours after the painting arrived, I sent the artist, Quang Ho, a note, thanking him for the joy he brought me. He responded quickly: “Thank you, Amy. Your note made me think about that piece and about pulling all the parts together and about changing course with colors and meaning, but I will never forget how much love I put into that work. I am so glad that you appreciate my work, and I thank you for your patronage.”
This was cool for a couple of reasons. First of all, I became a patron of the arts, which made me feel like a grown-up. But more important, his words so perfectly captured how art is a business, and business is an art. An entrepreneur doesn’t just create something to sell -- they create something that will be appreciated and embraced by their customers and patrons. They create a singular relationship that matters more than anything else. That’s why someone buys. It’s because they can feel the love.
I felt it. It overwhelmed me. It made me forget about the cost. And, sure, I may still be negotiating with my husband about the wisdom of this purchase (ahem). It caused a few dustups in the nuclear family, and it took me years to pay it down. But I have no regrets. I believed in the artist, and I believed in the investment -- just like your customers (or patrons, for that matter) won’t have any regrets about doing business with you.
This issue of our magazine is, in fact, a no-regrets issue. We talk to a former car designer who, against his family’s wishes, started making caskets. We hear from a woman who quit her career in NGOs to sell amazing experiences in Africa. We learn how to cancel an appointment without ruining a relationship. And we look at Lucky’s Market -- the story of a couple who ditched their plans of being full-time chefs and grew a dumpy little shop into everyone’s new favorite eccentric grocery store. I mean, they let you shop while drinking beer. Sold.
That’s not the only beer you’ll find here. We went barhopping around the U.S. to learn the best spots to do business in, the secrets of sealing the deal and why bartenders make genius entrepreneurs. If you’ve never done business in a bar, believe me, eventually you will. Let this issue be your guide.
No matter what your business is (or how much you’ve had to drink), never forget that you are an artist and you have patrons -- and you’ll never regret earning their love.