You can’t achieve your goals with out a plan.
• Where do you start?
• What do you write?
• How do you know it’s any good?
• What’s involved?
The very idea of mapping out and writing a quality business plan is a pretty scary idea for most creatives. It can become overwhelming very quickly!
Rather than put it into the “I’ll do that later aka 2050” category, I want you to consider taking the first steps and start sketching it out. I’ll give you some tips on how to think about the first steps. And I promise that as you continue, you’ll find that there is value in asking these questions.
1. What is the product or service that you are selling?
Often the hardest part for creatives is narrowing down the service or product that they are going to sell. You might be a writer and interested in several types of writing styles. You might be a design person who is interested in a variety of mediums to express your creativity.
Choose one area that inspires you the most AND can deliver the highest commercial appeal. I don’t want you to sell your soul and create a business that does not demonstrate your passion, but it’s also important to make sure that what you are offering will be of interest to future customers/buyers.
Think about your prior experiences and “guesstimate” what offering you want to focus on.
2. Who is your audience of buyers?
The answer most people like to give is EVERYONE.
However, for many many reasons – that is wrong!
You want to consider one persona that you know will be interested in the work you are producing. Is it someone who was a former artist stuck in a 9-5 job that wants to be re-inspired in their home or office?
Consider one person that you know would be inspired by your work and base your target market on this one person for your marketing.
It’s fine if in your initial tests you find that the person doesn’t fit this demographic. For the first plan that you write – you need to pick a narrow focus of the type of person you think will buy your product or service.
You’ll be saving yourself lots of time and money down the road by being focused!
3. How are you going to spread the word for what you do?
The technical description for this category is “Marketing”. The technical name is not nearly as important as your understanding of how important this section is – how are you going to spread the word pass your family and friends and share your product or services?
It doesn’t matter how talented you are if no one is buying!!
Do your research and start building your brand. Think about what you are known for and what compliments you have received for your work. Start by establishing an identity that is consistent across all of your social media channels and uses the same colors, logo, pictures, etc. Consider how you want to connect with people in person. What types of advertising could you consider to grow your name?
Take your time to answer these questions carefully and you’ll keep a fresh steady stream of customers coming to purchase.
4. How will you get sales?
Let’s rethink sales. Sales or revenue or the money coming into your company is you offering your product or service to others who are willing to thank you for the gift you have shared with them in exchange for payment.
Better way to approach the idea of sales, yes?
When you start to think of it as an exchange that benefits both parties – you’ll want to dive into a few areas that complete a sales plan. What type of discounts, promotions, and special deals are you going to offer to keep the sales coming? What guarantees will you show? Will you focus on getting long term contracts to keep a steady stream of income, or a volume approach where you do a lot of short-term work?
These are all questions you want to address in your sales portion of the plan.
5. Finally let’s look at the toughest question of all – Are you making money?
Sometimes creative people don’t like to get bogged down in the day-to-day business details, but it’s important to pay attention to things like expenses if you want to be profitable. You need to stay on top of your expenses or they will get out of control before too long. Even the smallest expenses will add up and strangle your business if you don’t watch out. Do you know how much you’re making on a yearly basis? Or a monthly, even a weekly one? You may think you’re making a certain amount, but when you add up all your expenses it could turn out to be a lot less. Take a good hard look at your income and expenses, or get an accountant to do it for you, so you have an accurate idea of what shape your business is in.
I hope you found this information helpful to get you started working on your first business plan! Don’t worry about making it perfect during your first draft. It’s a first draft and will need you to go out and test the ideas and numbers to see if you are correct.
ABOUT MALLA HARIDAT
Plenty of leaders motivate. Many inspire. But few transform. Highly sought after, award winning entrepreneurship expert, Malla Haridat, does just that: TRANSFORM. Whether she’s training social or business entrepreneurs how to run successful enterprises that educate, empower and support others as the CEO of New Designs for Life; advising mompreneurs and kidpreneurs how to monetize their dreams, talents and ideas as founder of Mom & Daughters Inc; helping engage corporate employees tap into the power of entrepreneurship; or coaching women to become more independent, Malla catalyzes transformation. Nationally recognized, Malla has been featured in the New York Times, BlackEnteprise.com, Inc.com, YFS Magazine and Fox Small Business. She is the recipient of the New York City Small Business Award (awarded by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg) and a finalist in the Count Me In Women’s Economic Independence Urban Rebound program.