Most successful artists I know have taken the time to learn some business skills and tend to be fairly organised, and I believe that having a basic understanding of business can help you:
Make more sales
Get paid on time
Create a professional appearance towards galleries, art authorities, but most importantly, your customers.
Give you more time in the studio. When this side of your practice is organised, you have more time to do what you do best; create.
Becoming aware of what skills can support you in your business, can help you identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, and discover what you enjoy doing (along with what you don't enjoy). Some things can be outsourced at a later date, or you can dive in and learn how to do it yourself!
Here are a few areas you need to be aware of:
Marketing - how to get your work in front of the right people.
Social Media - how to increase your exposure by sharing your work.
Building an audience - how to grow an email list and community.
Bookkeeping - having a system in place to record your income and expenses.
Customer service - having a professional manner when dealing with customers.
"If you have a product or service that people want and you deliver it in a way that exceeds their expectations, your business will be a success." - Richard Branson
I will give you a real life example of how it can help. I had my best ever painting sale (I sold five large paintings to a hospital), because I was organised and able to act quickly. I was contacted by the manager of a surgical practice who were looking for new artworks for their consulting rooms and reception area. The surgeon had been shown my work (first via Facebook and then my website) and liked it, so they asked me to bring in a selection of paintings in for him to see at a specific time, only a couple of hours after they had initially contacted me!
Luckily I had a stock of paintings, and luckily they were all professionally finished and ready to hang, so I could pack them up quickly, arrange a courier and get them there on time. I helped the manager hang them and we called the surgeon in to have a look. He loved them and purchased five! I had my trusty card reader with me, so I could take payment then and there, and I emailed them a receipt once I got back to my studio. Being organised was a huge advantage for me that day!
Having a basic understanding of all these areas will help your business succeed, and you can always learn more as your business grows. There is something extremely creative about building something from nothing, so it's time for artists to get inspired about business!