Around twenty years ago I wrote a business plan for my fledgling production company to try and encourage a bank to give me a loan. I used a template that was provided to me by the bank, and struggled my way through a lot of questions that I didn’t really understand. In the end I created a sexy-looking corporate document that was light on real substance but heavy on gloss. It was also spectacularly unsuccessful, I didn’t get the money and the loan officer thought I was mental.
Still, even though the document didn’t get me what I wanted, the process was thoroughly rewarding. It made the business seem real, more than just a dream in my head and a fuzzy idea of what might be possible. By writing down everything I could think of about my business, and putting all those ideas together into a narrative, it started to be more than a gleam in my eye and became a real life business.
Now, twenty years after my first planning experience, I’m launching my new Business Plan for Creative People. Huzzah! After months of gestating it’s finally here with a smack of approval on its papery bottom. Please download, and have a look at it, and let me know what you think.
Business plans are a bloody good idea, but they’re not usually talked about as something that creative people would want to engage with. They seem like horrible, stuffy, linear things full of spread sheets that one must endure in order to engage the interest of a bank manager – and if not a bank manager, then maybe a government grant-giver, an investor, or someone from the tax department.
The one thing all these people have in common is that they will judge. They will judge whether or not the business reflected in this document is worthy of a loan, or investment funds, or the myriad tax deductions you’ve been trying to get away with. And if they’re judging you and your business, they will be (quite rightly) casting a critical eye over your plan and wondering whether or not the things written in it are (a) true, (b) able to be justified, and (c) vaguely reminiscent of a so-called ‘normal’ business. That alone is enough to scare most creative people away from the whole idea.
Having said that, the process of writing and researching a business plan is absolutely invaluable, and even more so if you’re a creative person because you probably need a plan more than most. The likelihood is that you’re trying to do a number of different jobs all at the same time, you might still be figuring out what kind of creative practice you want to have, you’re trying to balance your creative passion with your need to make money, and have a life all at the same time. In that case having a plan is a great idea, because it allows you to think critically about what you’re trying to do with your art and your business, forces you to think about money (even though it’s horrible), and might even give you some insight into how to market this wonderful thing you’re trying to build, so you can get some more clients or customers and make even more money.
The solution to all this angst is simple. I took away the yucky end product, the glossy and vaguely false corporate-style business plan document, and just created a template that helps you to focus on the process. It’s jam-packed with questions, suggestions, resources, links and lots more, and you can download it for free.
Writing a business plan is a bit like therapy. It’s scary to begin with, and even painful, but once you get into the process it’s incredibly worthwhile. Your plan will help you define your goals, understand what you’re creating, and forge ahead with a great passion and drive to make your dreams come true. You won’t regret it Good luck!