Wondering if artists and creative entrepreneurs need a business plan? Well, you are in the right place. Let’s begin with the purpose of a business plan.
A traditional business plan can help convince investors to fund your venture capital. It can also help you get a loan. If getting a loan or pitching to investors isn’t on your horizon, then I would suggest a different approach to business planning.
For most small creative businesses including artists, you won’t need the traditional business plan. However, I would highly recommend an alternative plan that is simple, but more importantly, creative. Your plan can also help set goals, metrics, deadlines, and strategies for running your business.
What does a creative business plan look like?
A creative business plan can be a manifesto, a list of goals, a vision board, a strategic planning session, or a business-based calendar. However you decide to make the plan, it shouldn’t cause you a huge learning curve. Just like your creative work, this plan can fit your right-brained thinking, creative style, and the way you manage your business. Ideally, this plan would be a living or working plan to use, alter, and reference throughout the year.
As your business grows, you may want to create an operational plan, especially if you are adding employees or systems. You will want some standard business practices as well as know who is responsible for what job tasks.
When do I make my business plan?
There is no set timeline on when you need to make a business plan. January is always great to start the year off with some intention, however, I used to plan in July. A non-traditional goal planning day provides less pressure. Keeping goals is not the same as a New Year’s resolution so you have permission to plan when it makes sense for your business.
Make sure you set some time to refer or go over the plan. Set monthly or quarterly check-ins to see how you are making progress. If your business has shifted, adjust the plan to reflect the pivot and guide you through your next steps.
A year after your initial goal planning session, make sure you have set aside time to review the past year. Your review can help you plan for the next 365 days by carrying over successful strategies from the past year and learning from mistakes and failures you have already problem-solved.
Do I need a plan before I start a new business?
If you are just starting your business, creating a full formal business plan can delay action. Don’t let the lack of a business plan prevent you from moving forward and don’t let writing out a plan be an excuse for not launching your business.
I have been in business for many years, and have operated without the traditional plan. I prefer to use more creative methods to set goals and plans all of which are outlined below.
Resources to Help You Business Plan
Here are some of my favorite creative ways I plan my business. Many times I use a combination of resources to create the full creative plan.
Creative Manifesto is the latest book that I am obsessed with. I am working to write a document that has a wider guideline for how I manage my business and my creative work. This book shares other creative’s manifestos and gets you inspired while peppering in writing activities.
THRIVE Tea Time Business Planning has been a weekly digital event where artists have gathered to plan their next year together. You must be a member of THRIVE to join, but all of the events have been recorded and are accessible for watching even after the live event. I have made the most comprehensive and detailed plan by using this method which is purposefully designed for artists and creatives. The camaraderie of many artists doing business planning together also helps get the work accomplished!
Right Brain Business Plan is not a new book, but this is a good resource for creatives wanting to tackle a traditional business plan from a creative perspective. It will cover your typical sections of a plan, for example, business landscape, but for creatives which makes it more fun and approachable. What I like about it is that the format of the plan you create from this book can also be creative and non-traditional. This book was also recommended and used when creating THRIVE’s Tea Time Business Planning workshops.
Spirit Out with Amy Egenberger, has an annual Intention Celebration course that I love. This course packs a punch when it comes to setting a powerful and visual intention for the year. I have taken this course multiple years and I love starting the New Year off with this workshop. This allows me to use my creativity and intuition to help me plan goals through visualization, vision board creation, journaling, and building a powerful intention with a group.
Maker’s Business Toolkit I can’t tell you how many artists I have had buy the Maker’s Business Toolkit after I have recommended this (and there isn’t a kickback or affiliate). This is a great planner for the creative who needs to pencil in creative entrepreneurship into their calendar to get the work done. There is a great reflection and goal setting section in the beginning, and worksheets to track progress along the year each month alongside a weekly calendar. I cannot wait for this year’s calendar to show up!
Have you tried any of these resources? Or do you have resources you use to plan your own creative business? Comment below with your strategies and resources to share with other creatives!