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Artist Business Planning

Create Your Roadmap

Why Do Artists Need a Business Plan?

When looking at a road map, most people are generally trying to get from point A to point B. Some prefer the direct route. Others prefer a short cut. Still, others want to see the sights and head off the beaten path or skip strait to point C. No matter which route you ultimately choose, or what ends up happening along the way, you always have a map to show you where you started, where you wanted to go, and where you are now. Your business plan is you map. Whether you use the newest technology or prefer paper and highlighter, the business plan is a guide to help you arrive at your destination and make well-informed decisions along the way.

Artists are natural entrepreneurs. Latest business research shows that successful entrepreneurs:

  • Structure their business in a way to maximize profit and clearly comprehend all aspects of the risks they take
  • Have a clear sense of purpose and desire to be the best (whatever best may mean to you)
  • Base their goals on realistic expectations and adapt well to change
  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses relative to their competition
  • Understand their target market and how to reach them
  • Achieve customer loyalty by offering unique value and being solutions-oriented
  • Develop relationships based on quality, honesty and responsiveness
  • Are comfortable with uncertainty

Even with all of the above, the most seasoned entrepreneurs and business managers fail more often than they succeed. So we're here to help you plan, because all you really need is the structure in which to fill your ideas.

As an artist, a business plan...

helps you structure your thinking about your business model

You already think outside the box. This is a box to help you funnel and organize those thoughts.

tests your ideas and stimulates thinking

Not every idea is a good one, and even the best ideas need good management to become reality. The process of writing a business plan will help you think strategically AND creatively.

focuses your goals

Because you can't do everything...at least not by yourself.

identifies risks and solutions

Look before you jump. Take the risks you want to take based on your overall concepts and vision.

identifies gaps in your business model

See and work through flaws, risks and potential failures before they are at your doorstep. This will save you a lot of time, energy and money in the long run.

helps you articulate your vision of success

So when relatives ask you, "So, what do you do?" they don't look at you like you're unemployed...among many other more business-savvy reasons.

helps you raise capital

People are not going to throw money at you just because of your good looks and fancy arts speech anymore. Investors, even a crowd of investors, want to know that you can, and will, deliver.

most importantly... helps you determine if your business plan makes sense

A weak plan is as harmful as no plan. Don't start a business without knowing what you're getting into. But more importantly, don't go into business knowing that it is not going to work...at least not until you revise your plan and strategies so that it will.

What is in a Business Plan

There is a ton of information out there on building your business plan. We've listed a couple below.

AEI addresses the unique business challenges many creative entrepreneurs face head on. The content of your business plan will help you make your case for a potential commission for example, or a banker who questions your revenue stream. While the tone of a business plan may not feel entirely natural to you, we encourage to throw away all notions of "left-brain vs right-brain," "corporate," or "stuffy." Break down your own perceptual barriers, rise above the stigmas out there, and make your passion your business. 

Reflection Questions

1. Why are you taking the Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute?

2. At what point or moment of your artistic career did you realize the importance of combining your artistic skills with business skills?

3. Do you have concerns about losing your artistic integrity by becoming more business oriented? Write down your specific concerns.

4. Are the items you just listed practical concerns, or perceptual barriers to building a successful, self-sustaining career with your art or creative practice?

5. Write down 3 strategies to help preserve your artistic integrity.

6. Are artists conditioned to avoid making a profit or developing a business? How have you overcome that? What is still holding you back other than the business skills you'll be learning throughout this course?

7. Do you consider the person who will ultimately experience your art work as you are creating it?

Resources

Small Business Association: Create a Business Plan

Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE): Business Plan Checklist, and Starting a Business Resources

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