Nicola Taggart is the founder of Tag-Art
Nicola, a fine art graduate, speaks to us about Tag-Art - a business specialising in murals, sculptures and workshops.
Clients: United Utilities, Mersey Rail, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Police and Fire Service, Rotunda and Novartis.
“Having finished my Fine Arts degree I knew I wanted to work within the creative industries. I started volunteering for organisations like K.I.N.D and Liverpool Mutual Housing. Tag-Art grew organically from these volunteer placements. People who had seen my work were impressed and I started to get commissioned for paid projects.
“Although I had the creative skills to make Tag-Art a success, I didn’t know anything about marketing or accounting. That’s where the Centre for Entrepreneurship helped most. Their courses taught me loads of business skills. I also made lots of useful contacts through the Centre.
“If you’re looking to start your own business, enter competitions. Even if you don’t win the competition, you’ll get your name out there. Sometimes, that’s more important than the prize itself.“
“To start Tag-Art I used funding from the Centre for Entrepreneurship. I secured the funding after doing a Dragon’s Den style pitch. It was quite scary, but pitches get much easier and the practice is really useful. I recently pitched to United Utilities and managed to win the commission. I spent the Centre’s funding on paint, my website, leaflets and promotional Tag-Art t-shirts. I also received funding from Awesome Awards, which I used for workshop materials.
“Before starting Tag-Art, my biggest concern was whether my business was sustainable. When bills came through my door, would I be able to pay them? Working within the art industry is tough, but I made sure Tag-Art was a success by adapting my business.
“To make sure your business works, create a need and keep flexible. When I first started Tag-Art I never expected to receive commissions from Novartis – a pharmaceutical company. But, as part of my work with K.I.N.D, I did. I adjusted my business to make sure I met that client’s needs.
“If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d tell myself to enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll do it well and the opportunities will come from this.”
Being your own boss is hard work. But you don't mind because you're making a future for yourself.
Nicola's tips for start-ups
Nicola's top three tips:
- Build a network of contacts. Ideally your network should include a mix of people, from other self-starters to potential clients. I made some great contacts through volunteering.
2. Research your business. Find out everything you can about the industry.
3. Make sure you’re going to be the best at what you’re doing.
I wake up at 7.00am and check my emails. By 9.00am I’m normally in client meetings, talking about future projects. I then head to the site I’m working at.
I spend my afternoon painting at the site I’m working on. I’ll then head home around 4.30pm and work on sketches and develop ideas discussed in the morning’s client meetings. Next up, I work through my emails and do some social media marketing.
I like to make time for myself. In the evenings I normally head to the cinema or spend time with my family.