I am a light and text artist working to create installations and sculptures mainly for the public realm.
For around 5 years I have been working as a sole trader in terms of my business structure. It has worked well until a few times it’s been suggested to me that running as a limited company might be a better option for growth. It’s common to be an artist and stay as a sole trader to run your business and often there is little to no need to change, it can really depend on the type of artistic practice you work with and the scales at which you want to grow.
For me, I have been considering forming a limited company for some time. I have several strands to the work that I do in terms of my artistic practice and business and feel putting it all under one roof, so to speak, will work well for me, both in a legal structure and a psychological one – it’s a big step and one that signals to myself that I’m really in this for the long haul.
Also, I work a lot in the public realm and want to continue to do so on larger commissions, which, by their nature, have larger budgets and bigger liabilities that are better to be separated from personal assets. A limited company is a legal structure separate from you and your own assets (such as a house). You become the director of it and this means it can also function to employ other people and grow in ways you probably wouldn’t consider as a sole trader. It is not necessarily the easier option, you will legally have many responsibilities as a director of the limited company that can seem pretty full on when you read the letters from Companies House, but depending on your business plan and aspirations, it might be a good option to choose.
In terms of my own work, I’ve found that the companies and organisations that I apply to work with are sometimes not that keen that I’m a sole trader and would prefer to deal with a limited company. So for me, I think it’s the right step to at least try this new structure, and with a-n’s professional development bursary, I’ve finally taken it to become Studio Elisa Artesero Ltd.
So, what process have I gone through to create my company? Well, when I got the grant I had a logical and well-thought out plan of the steps I was going to take over the year, but then two things happened –
1. I stalled. Was this really what I wanted? Was I ready for it? What if it fails? I don’t know EVERYTHING about running a business and taxes, so therefore I must not be ready.
2. I got a commission to develop an entirely new body of work for my first London solo show.
Now, for number 1, I could give myself a little talking to, speak to friends, colleagues and accountants and just get on with my plan; but number 2 required a huge amount of work, creative and logistical efforts to make the artwork and put on a good show – it had to take precedence.
So, I temporarily shelved forming a company to do my artwork. However, during this time, I did several useful things. I bought and read a book on starting your own business and the different options available. I listened to hours upon hours of podcasts from various different sources, from traditional start up businesses, to women in business interviews, to specialist art business podcasts. I absorbed as much information as possible to help me understand the business world better, and to really plant that seed that it was possible and I could be the director of my own company.
After the solo exhibition I also got another long-term commission, work was coming in fast and I still hadn’t formed! However, this new commission was more staggered in its timescale and allowed me to plan in more time to research, write a business plan, interview other creative women in business about their stories (next blog posts) and to find an accountant and go through the legal process of forming.
The next two blogs posts are my interviews with two fantastic creative women entrepreneurs, telling me their stories about setting up and running their own creative businesses. The last blog post will cover some pros and cons of the two different business structures and some resources I found helpful.
Find out more about me here.