Posted in Artist's Business Plan, Entrepreneurial Artist

Turn Your Ideas into a Working Business Plan

We’ve all been in one of these stores — the sign on the building says Grocery, but you have to walk past beach balls, framed pictures for the bathroom, lawn chairs, car batteries, televisions, and a hundred other non-grocery items before you ever get to the groceries. Or maybe the sign says Gas and Groceries, but you can also buy minnows for fishing or an electric blanket to take up to the cabin. The “little bit of everything” business model makes more sense if the nearest town is 50 miles away. They are, otherwise, annoying. In the early stages of setting up  and running a business, it’s important to focus.

In the first post in this series, Artist’s Plan for Success, I said you need to do two things before you write a business plan:

  • Identify your product or services (make a list)
  • Identify who you think your customer is — who wants the products or services you can provide?

In the second post in this series, A Business Plan for Artists, I said you need to do these two things:

  • Identify potential income streams (how, where, and in what form will you sell your products or services? Will you sell online. have a storefront, or perhaps do both? Will you travel to craft or art shows? Will you take orders and then make the products?
  • Research all the elements of your business plan (each potential stream), because you need solid data and information to help you make decisions as you complete your plan

And I offered the following tips:

  • Try to find information about how much things will cost if you need to buy supplies, pay rent or lease, pay subcontractors, etc.
  • Use your head, not your heart, to make most decisions. Your business is not a charity.
  • Find out where your product or service fits. Do you have a niche market? What is it?
  • Know your audience and its demographics (where and how do they shop? age? gender? etc.)
  • Don’t limit your understanding of your business or where it’s going.

What’s next?

Step 3 is to write a brief company description.

You’ve put a lot of thought into your business by the time you get to this point. You know what your selling, who you’re selling to, and how you propose to sell your products and services. Your final business plan will have most or all of these sections, depending on what goals you have set. If you’re creating art to sell, you might not need to complete an industry analysis or discuss management or the organization of your business. You will need to include a description of your company and have a marketing plan, though. I included all the sections to give you a better idea about can be included in a business plan. But for now, we’ll focus only on IV. Company Description.

I. Cover Page
II. Table of Contents
III. Executive Summary
IV. Company Description
V. Industry Analysis
VI. Products and Services
VII. Market Analysis/Marketing Plan
VIII. Management and Organization
IX. Operational Plan
X. Financial Plan and Projections
XI. Financing Proposal
XII. Supporting Documents

Use the information you’ve gathered through research, knowledge and experience, brainstorming, etc, . Start your page with the heading: IV. Company Description. Then write about the following in one or two pages. The paragraphs do not need to be numbered, although if you like numbering and/or using headings, feel free to do so. This is your document.

  1. Your company history (keep it brief).
  2. Describe your products and/or services.
  3. Describe your customer demographics (what are their characteristics: age, gender, interests, location, income, etc.), and explain what they like about your products or services.
  4. Describe your business location (online, home, office, storefront, etc.).
  5. List the owners and the legal structure (LLC, partnership, etc.), and explain why you chose this type of structure.
  6. Describe the goals and objectives of the company.

In the next post, I’ll discuss what goes into an Operational Plan. The Financial Plan and Projections will follow. An Artist’s Business Plan template can be found here.

 

Posted in Artist's Business Plan, Playbook Strategy

A Business Plan for Artists

EPSON MFP imageWhat does an artist’s business plan look like?

A business plan is a document that ties everything together—what you do, how you organize your work, your pricing plan, promotion and marketing strategies—in one place. It outlines your professional goals and explains how you will meet those goals. It’s like a bridge that will take you from idea to action. If you’re a professional artist or thinking about turning pro, and you don’t have a business plan, now is the perfect time to create your plan. Note: this post will not tell you what kind of business to start. Completing an artist’s business plan can help you decide if you have a good business idea.

Why you should have one

A business plan shows that you’ve thought about your career as an artist. It shows both you and others that you take your career seriously and have a plan for achieving your goals.

Who cares?

Your family cares. It’ll be easier for you to block out time to do your work if your family understands that you need time to do your work. Your friends, colleagues, and potential partners will care and take you seriously. If you want or need money to invest in your art business, banks, investors, and venture capitalists will also care that you have a plan. And if you ever get audited by the IRS, you’ll be glad you took time to create your business plan, because it is a supporting document that will help explain what you do and how you do it.

Getting Started

In yesterday’s post, I wrote a short description of the products and services I intend to provide and who the audience is for those things.

I paint plein air landscapes and do studio paintings for people who enjoy the outdoors in all its seasons and who like to be reminded of places they’ve been to. I teach classes to give people guided experiences that will increase their enjoyment of painting, and I do demonstrations to inspire and motivate people to try painting.

To write this kind of statement, you need to know the general products and services you’ll provide. You don’t need to know details yet. I know my main product is plein air landscape paintings. But I can’t paint outside all the time so I will also produce studio paintings. And I’m not a speedy painter, nor do I have a well-developed list of clients, so I will augment my income with classes and do demos. These things fit with my personal interests, energy level, and values so it’ll be easier to keep my commitments.

If you don’t have a short description of your products and/or services, take a few minutes now to write one. See yesterday’s post for more discussion about step one. Then, move on to Step Two: Identify potential income streams (ways to exchange your product and services for income).

Hint—every income stream needs to accomplish one or more of the following things to benefit you:

  • Provide a networking opportunity
  • Add to your contact list
  • Convert a contact to a customer or patron
  • Result in a direct sale

Step Two: Identify potential income streams

To do this step, you’ll need to draw a very simple tree (a trunk and several main branches). Keep it simple. Spend a few minutes thinking about ways you can get your product or services into the hands of buying customers. Transfer the idea (product or services) to the trunk. Transfer the items in the list you just made to branches, using one branch for each income stream. You might crop off a branch or two, or add branches, as you continue to refine your plan. So relax and think about how you can sell your work.

My tree has nine branches. On one branch, I wrote “online galleries” (DailyPaintworks,com and SharonLeahArt.com). On another branch, I wrote “Creativity Playbook blog.”

Now, draw a simple leaf (an oval or box is fine, too) at the end of each branch. It needs to be only large enough so you can write a word in it. You might have one or two leaves, but probably not more than four, on each branch. In each leaf, write a word or two to describe what you’ll receive or accomplish from that income stream, for example: Direct Sale, Contact, New Customer, Networking. If you have a different benefit that isn’t listed

Both the Online Galleries branch and Blog branch have two leaves. One for Contacts. One for Clients.

Remembering that each branch must benefit you with new contacts or a new or existing customer, etc., is a good organizing strategy.

If you’re thinking: Wow! This is business is starting to look and feel real! You’re right.

What’s next?

The tree you’ve created will help you make decisions. You may begin to get a sense of how much time each of the income streams will require and which ones are likely to be more or less profitable or beneficial to you. Don’t worry about cutting things yet.

Research all the elements of your business plan (each potential stream). You need solid data and information to help you make decisions as you complete your plan.

Tips:

  • Try to find information about how much things will cost if you need to buy supplies, pay rent or lease, pay subcontractors, etc.
  • Use your head, not your heart, to make most decisions. Your business is not a charity.
  • Find out where your product or service fits. Do you have a niche market? What is it?
  • Know your audience and its demographics (where and how do they shop? age? gender? etc.)
  • Don’t limit your understanding of you business or where it’s going.

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Posted in Artist's Business Plan, Playbook Strategy

Artist’s Plan for Success

Jan 21
Number 19 from my series of 30 studies completed in January 2017.

What separates amateur artists from professional artists?

Skill? They have acquired the necessary skills to create professional-quality works. Or, attitude? They have committed to creating their art full time.

It’s not skills. A set of highly developed skills is nice to have, but that’s not what distinguishes amateurs from pros. It’s the commitment to work at art full-time that sets a pro apart from an amateur. Pros don’t wait for the muse to whisper in their ears, nor are they weekend warriors. They get up every day and do their work just like a farmer or bricklayer or teacher does.

Most artists who work full-time want to avoid the “starving artist” lifestyle. I want to earn enough so I can pay for other things I want to do, and believe it or no having a business plan is one of the best ways to ensure that will happen.

Why should you have a business plan? Because it will outline your goals and explain how you’ll achieve them. It’ll show you what resources you’ll need, and it’ll demonstrate to the IRS that you take your career seriously. It’ll help determine the feasibility of your idea. And it’ll help you succeed.

Writing a business plan to guide your decision-making is not as difficult as you may think it is. I’m working on mine and plan to have it finished by the end of February. If you’re ready to go pro and you want to plan for success, start on your business plan now if you don’t already have one.

Getting Started: Step One

  1. Identify your product or services (make a list).
  2. Identify who you think your audience is. Who wants what you can provide?
  3. Write a short description, in a sentence or two, of the goods or services you intend to provide and who your audience is. Here’s mine:

    I paint plein air landscapes and do studio paintings for people who enjoy the outdoors in all its seasons and who like to be reminded of places they’ve been to. I teach classes to give people guided experiences that will increase their enjoyment of painting, and I do demonstrations to inspire and motivate people to try painting.

Hint: This is like an elevator speech and you need to be able to say what you do in 30 seconds or less. If you can’t write what you do in a couple sentences, you may be trying to do or put too many things under one umbrella. You may need to get more focused. Or you may be starting with the end in mind, which is not where you need to be at this time. Just write what you intend to do and who you’re doing it for—the audience.

What’s Next?

Throughout the month, I’ll post the next steps you need to do to make your business plan. If you’re busy and need a reminder to check back, sign up to get an email notification whenever something new is posted on this Creativity Playbook blog.