TITLE: Business Plans Matter
DATE: 8/25/2004 05:56:00 PM
Among the acclaim I have already extended, Post-It is a powerful economic developer. Well, actually, 3M Corporation is.
At a time when small towns are disappearing in the blink of an eye, one tiny dot on the map still has a thriving manufacturing industry thanks to 3M. A vast majority of the working population of Cynthiana, Kentucky, works to make Post-It notes and ship them across the globe. That’s right! A town with a population of 6,497 people is keeping your life (and most certainly mine) a little more organized.
Art, believe it or not, is an economic developer too.
This is something I know to be true. The proof is in the people I meet in my day job, and also the books, magazines, and blogs I read in my free time.
Richard Florida, pioneering writer and researcher on the value of creative community growth, is just one of my new hero’s this past year. He didn’t just write about the power of arts revitalization and creative industries, he travels around the country preaching the idea! He truly believes that small town and big city mayors have one thing in common—they all need to embrace creative solutions to sustainable growth.
All this aside, how could it relate to your thriving company or fledgling business idea?
Aha! It relates in a very big way.
Whether you’ve been in business for 10 years or plan to begin officially a year from now, you need a plan. Your business plan should always include supporting statistics on the size and scope of your industry, the rate of growth of your segment of business, and the likelihood of your succeeding.
If you need a grant or a small business loan, a formalized business plan will help you lay the groundwork by presenting you as a PROFESSIONAL ARTIST… not that other variety we hear so much about (shh… the starving, scatter-brained one... you know).
Using buzz terms like "economic development" or adding in paragraphs about the "sustainability of craft businesses" will sound like music to your banker’s ears. They’ll be thinking, "Ah… You don’t want to be an artist, you want to be a business person!" (Just nod and smile along. You and I know it's possible to be both.)
Even if you have NO need to seek out investors, trust me—start drafting this document today. Much like the way notecards or an old fashioned outline give you the backbone behind a term paper, a business plan will do the same for your business. If not potential lenders, it gives you something to lean against and use as a marker. Update it over time and you will always be on your toes and able to win any argument begun with, "So, you make art for a living?"
To identify stats to support your business plan. Try these sources:
Small Business Administration Annual Report
The CODA Survey
Women’s Business Research
If your business plan is already done, you have plenty of time to read about creative development:
Richard Florida’s books
Absorb anything put out by AFTA
Selling Art IS Selling an Idea!
Read Dan Pink