Monday, January 30, 2012
Article - Business Plan Q1
No, I don't know why there is a photograph of a TARDIS cookie jar on this blog post. I think it's mostly because I wrote my business plan for the quarter on the first piece of paper I had handy: one with a TARDIS print out on it. I think it inspired me. How could it not? All I know is that I was watching Doctor Who and thinking about New Years resolutions, which I haven't made in some time because I never follow through, or it's something I should be doing anyway and I'm trying from last year to get better at something. So while doing a painting I was curious as to how much I was actually making, and how much I should make, and where I should focus my time. It suddenly hit me that I should write up a business plan and follow it to see if I could get more control over my art business. Seemed better than a resolution because it was more active, but it was still in the spirit of the New Year promises we all intend to keep. It just seemed like something I could actually keep, and find useful.
So here is going to be my blog post on writing a business plan. Or, more correctly, how I wrote out my business plan and how I'm using it. I hope the way I view things will help you. I know I can't do anything exactly like business majors do it as I don't know how business majors do it. Maybe I'll go back for a degree in business and do it correctly next time. But for now, here is my process.
Step One: Gather Materials
Since most of my sales are online, this was fairly easy. I just pulled up the sites with my sales and other information. You also need your marketing money and supply money and how much you spend on everything in your life. Having them in one place makes all the rest of the steps easier, but I pretty much just looked everything up while I was working on the plan.
Step Two: List Where You Sell and Your Sales
Across the top of my paper, I wrote out every place I sell work. Under that, I wrote out my sales numbers so far, and broke it down to how much I made the last month. I was also kind of anal and wrote out exactly how much growth or loss I was experiencing through the months since I had started selling on those sites.
Step Three: List Your Current Marketing Strategies for Each Venue
Here is where I put where I was marketing each of my sites, and where I was getting the most traffic. If I wasn't doing any marketing, I put that, but for the most part I at least tweet or put on facebook so I could put that if nothing else. A lot of people do ads, so this is where you'd put your ads and how much you are paying, and see exactly how much traffic and sales you are getting from those marketing strategies. For me, this is a very simple part of my page, but for someone who does a lot of marketing, this could be a whole section of a business plan.
Step Four: I figured out how much I want to be making at each venue by the end of April
This was pretty easy. I looked at my sales and looked at how much money I wanted to be bringing in at the end of April. Just a simple number. Some gigs I wanted to expand, some I wanted to remain at the current level.
Step Five: I looked at what I wanted to sell to make that money
I have several gigs that are very inexpensive, and popular, but require more work from me. I have several that are more expensive and I prefer to make money off them. I know which are more popular and I have to balance getting money to live on time, and getting good money for my work. This is where I see where I want to focus my marketing and my time.
Step Six: Reorganize Business
I have to fix where everything links to, whether I'm charging the right amount of money to get the funds I need and make sure I'm not doing too much work for too little payoff. This part is a bit intuitive for me, though I am using my info from the plan to organize things as well.
Step Seven: Work out Marketing
Decide where you want to put your money. Social media works great and is fairly inexpensive most of the time. Plus, there are ads you can do and ways to promote your craft and art. I am going to be hosting a give away to get more traffic for my social sites, which I hope goes well. It will be closer to the end of the quarter, so watch out for this!
Step Eight: Allow for Unexpected Events
Figuring out what works and what doesn't is sometimes a crap shoot, and sometimes it blows up in your face. Just this month I didn't put any effort in promoting one of my gigs, yet it some how ended up being promoted directly from the site. This plus the marketing I was putting in at another site practically doubled my orders everywhere. This would be good were I just into this for the money. Unfortunately this ate up /all/ of my time (Notice the lack of blog posts?) and I was worried about getting everything done on time. Plus these were for projects that don't net me a lot of money. I had to reorganize my business plan to reflect this, and see how I needed to restructure my time to focus more energy on more lucrative parts of my business.
And... that's it!
So far, anyway. I am doing my best and seeing how this business plan thing is working. I am taking things I read on google and in books, and figuring out exactly what works for me. If I have any insights, of course I'll post them here! And if you have any business advice, let's here it! :)