Creative Business Strategist, Minette Riordan, has been helping creative entrepreneurs understand how to build profitable businesses from the bottom up, ever since the last time we spoke to her. I gotta tell you, it's not easy work, because this is an area of serious struggle for a lot of entrepreneurs. She has a great approach that takes away the anxiety and gray areas of planning and business goals.
Have We All Been Doing Business Backwards?
The theme coming through over the past few months is reverse engineered growth. Business planning is not exempt from this truth. In the current, most common planning process, entrepreneurs start with their talent and what they want to offer, and try to build something based on that. This is so difficult, I don't care who you are, because you are trying to create calculations based on basically nothing. That's why Minette is teaching entrepreneurs to start with how much money they need to make... and also to have a little fun with it!
Just Add Color!
Creatives have trouble with business planning, because they are generally cued into one area of their brain, and that area doesn't involve planning. Color opens up that area of the brain creatives love, while still allowing focus and planning to take place. If color doesn't do it for you, add imagery. If you are really serious- get some gel pens.
What Kind of Lifestyle Do You Want?
A lot of creatives have false hope about where they're going. How many projects or clients will get you to the amount of money you need to make each year? You have to be able to answer this question. And also these:
What does it cost to do the business you do? (Ex: overhead and fixed costs)
What will it cost in the future? (Ex: your computer breaks down)
Plenty of entrepreneurs never factor their own cost into what they charge. You don't have to guess or rely on a Google search to figure out what you need to charge and what your business plan should be. In fact, please don't do that. The process can be fun and simple, and at the end of it, you will feel so enlightened on where you are going.
Do This Instead!
Prepare: Get your tools ready aka: markers, crayons, gel pens, paper, etc. Then, get your mind right. Go into this process believing/telling yourself that your business deserves this and needs this to thrive.
Step One: Make a list of everything you want in your life, what lifestyle you expect this business to provide for you, how much you need to make each month, and how much you want to make each month.
Grab a new color! Make a list of your total time in on a project. Not only the time you spend with your client, or creating, but the time you spend doing everything around the project as well. This is where freelancers and entrepreneurs get killed. Time is money. Account for all of your time, and figure out what is costs you to be you.
Next: Grab a new color and make a list of every single business cost you have, will have, might have.
Commit: Revisit this process and your plan once a quarter. See where your growth and changes are, see where your gaps are, see where your success is and adjust accordingly! You don't have to redo your plan every quarter, but at the very least, look at it! Make sure you're taking action where you need to and that you are on track. You owe yourself this, at the very least.
This Is How We Do It
Business and marketing plans don't have to make you want to scream, bore you to death, or gather dust on shelf. My very first business plan I ever created sat untouched on an external hard drive for years before I even thought about it again. And plans that aren't implemented don't matter. Hope isn't a plan.