Google ‘business plans’, and you’re going to find an extremely wide array of types of business plans. There’s so many different categories under each plan, and each category is supposedly ‘vital’ and ‘mandatory’.
Each business school teaches you a different way to write your business plan, and each article on the internet does the same. (This particular article on the internet offers up the best, most visual one, of course.) If we outlined our business plans according to what common reputable sources say that we need to include in it, it would be a 240 page dissertation that no one - not even yourself at a later date - would take the time to read.
What this confusion unfortunately results in is the skipping of writing a business plan altogether, because it all just seems... unnecessary. But a good business plan is incredibly advantageous - we just have to boil it down to the right elements first.
The point of a good business plan is clarification
Including everything under the sun about what your business currently is and does, and what it might be and do in the future is not clarifying a f*cking thing.
But when you correctly boil your business plan elements down to what really matters to you and the type of future company that you want to have, it does offer clarification. Writing out super corporate-y details when you plan on having an LLC where you work one-on-one with clients just doesn’t make sense. Writing a 6 page wall of words when you’re a visual person just doesn’t make sense. Including a comprehensive marketing plan when you haven’t even figured out the type of product or service that you want to offer doesn’t make sense. Don’t waste your time on that crap.
Whether you want to write a business plan to convince investors to fund you, or you want to write a business plan to convince yourself that you can take your art business seriously, boil your business down to the elements that matter the most to you.
Chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’re an artist. And chances are, if you’re an artist, you’re a visual person. We’ve got lots in common! After being frustrated (and uninspired) with the available business model templates out there in InternetLand, I made my own. I boiled everything down to the elements that meant the most to me personally, made it visual, and then I tweaked it over time as I figured out what the most important elements to my business actually are. Then, instead of hoarding this template that made so much sense to me, I wanted made it available to other artists that felt the same way.
Get the Visual Business Plan for Artists template emailed to you below, and then open it up and we’ll go over it right here and now:
This is interactive, so if you’re opening it up on your desktop, you can write directly into the boxes as we go along. You can have your business plan written by the end of reading this article.
Let’s dive right in!
This is top priority - it guides every single project and task that I do. Also called a ‘creative thesis’, your mission statement is where you write out your company’s main goal and how you achieve it. (Also a great thing to keep on your homepage or ‘About’ page.)
In the age of the internet, we’re extremely distracted - your mission statement is how you stay focused. Before planning to do something, ask yourself ‘Does it align with my mission statement?’ If it doesn’t - save yourself some time and don’t do it. If you center your projects and tasks around asking yourself about the alignment with your mission statement, your focus will be astronomically higher, and your productivity will benefit greatly.
That’s right, ma’am - how do you propose value? I’m not just talking about making your audience happy because they have an awesome painting in their living room - what else are you offering? Tutorials? Opportunities? Collaborations that pull at the heart strings and evoke deep-seated emotion? If you’re not planning your business around the value that you’re going to offer, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Marketing is going to be tough, selling is going to be tough, maintaining your motivation to get through the grindy parts of business is going to be tough - unless you make it about value.
If you just want to be rich and have the freedom to work from anywhere - that’s cool - most of us want that. But if you’re not factoring value into that equation, why??? You can have wealth and freedom, and impact peoples’ lives in a positive way. (Most likely after bunches of hard work, of course.)
Write in the value proposition box how you plan on contributing to the world - what are you offering people that's making their lives better? The stronger the value proposition, the stronger an impact you can make for us humans.
This doesn’t just have to be paintings or sculpture. Maybe you also sell consulting services on the side, or teach an eCourse or video series on techniques or art business strategies - put all of these into the box.
Aww yeah - competition. It makes us all better. Whether you try to make your product better than theirs, model your strategy after them, or approach them for collaboration opportunities - you need to know your competition.
This requires a lil’ research. When I was first filling out one of these competitive analysis boxes for an entrepreneur competition, I was like ‘Gahhhhh!! Why do I need to do this? No one does what I do, and no one offers what I’m offering’. If you still feel like you don't have competitors after some careful analysis, ask friends/family/colleagues which kind of business or businesses they compare yours to, and I guarantee they'll find one. (Regardless of how different this other business actually is from yours.) Your audience isn't going to delve deep into your specific offerings - they're probably just going to lump you in somewhere, and you need to be aware of what that 'lump' is.
Doing a competitive analysis is imperative if you want to be able to explain what makes you different from other people in your market.
And not only that, but you can figure out how to strategically position yourself inside your market so that no one is offering what you’re offering. For example, some of Evergray’s competitors have a monthly membership subscription for artists, or they teach you how to master a specific social media platform like Instagram - I need to know all of these things if I’m to make sure that I’m not positioning my company in a way that someone else already has.
Ok - don’t overthink this part. (I totally did!) Just list out the platforms and strategies that you plan on using. These could be Pinterest, Pinterest ads, collaborations with influencers and other brands, Instagram, IGTV, etc.
With marketing, it’s going to be pretty difficult to immediately know if something is going to work for you and your particular setup. (With ‘setup’ being the market, your product, your branding, current social media algorithms, etc.) Instead, what makes more sense is to keep an open mind and have a marketing plan that you’ll test out and tweak with little optimizations here and there until you see some success. Some things will work and some might not - just keep up with it because in the age of the internet, successful marketing can have many different faces. And make sure that you tackle only one strategy or social media platform at a time - it’ll be very difficult to make actual progress if you’re chasing a bunch of shiny objects all at once.
This thing is INVALUABLE. You’re basically defining your business for what it is at its core, and you can use this to determine which marketing strategies are going to work best.
If you actually know all of your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, & threats when you’re writing out your business plan, you’re a f*cking genius. It’s so tough to know how exactly your business is going to stack up in the first stages (which for me, those stages lasted about 2 years). But just do a little research, and make your best guess as to what your business’ actual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are.
This differs from your mission statement because the mission statement is more practical and current, whereas the vision is more like your hopes and dreams for the business. Maybe right now, your mission statement is ‘a visual artist devoted to empowering self-confessed, non-creative people via workshops and tutorials’, but your vision and long-term goal might be ‘establishing a strong, supportive community that fosters creativity cultivation’. Nam’ sayin’?
If you fill in the whole business plan, and it doesn’t look viable to you - pivot. (Here's where 'pivot' comes from) If there’s too much competition and not enough value - pivot to offer more value that other competitors aren’t. If your competitors all have pretty much the same mission statement as you, pivot to help a slightly different group of people who don’t have as much support. If you look at your SWOT analysis and your strengths are pretty unique compared to your competitors - pivot and make sure that the rest of your business plan is focused on playing up your strengths because that’s where you have the most to offer. Use your business plan to review your current ideas for what you’re going to do next, and don’t be scared to pivot so that your business is positioned in the best possible way.
Now that I’ve mentioned the word ‘business’ about 250 times in this blog post, I feel like I can end this. Did you finish up that business plan template?
Comment below about the part of your business plan that you’re most excited about! (Mine is definitely the vision)