Getting yourself an active Business Plan as an artist is probably the last thing on your mind when you go into your studio each day. But having a strong business plan will likely be the difference between failure and success. As I am passionate about enabling fellow artists to make a profit doing what they love…I’ve written this simple action business plan to follow.

The 5 Year Business Plan For Artists:

Step One: Be Clear On Your Big Vision:

Ask yourself this: What exactly is your 2, 3, 5 or 10 year plan?

Or are you hoping to ‘see what happens’ when you get there? I have news for you, either you can decide what your future is going hold, or someone else will! This will of course require some real thinking time, as well as allowing yourself to be honest with what you really, really, really want!

Start by writing a 10 year vision – what do you see there both for your business, and also your life? After all, it’s no good planning your business out, if it doesn’t also align with your life goals.

For example: If your life plan is to retire early, rent out your house and live on a boat, sailing the world, living off your passive income.

However you forgot to address that when coming up with new ideas, and building your perfect Business Plan, you are now working hard towards a ‘bricks and mortar’ business local to you. You won’t have set up anything to build your passive income.

Step Two: Work Backwards From 5 To 1:

Next get yourself a large sheet of paper and start working out the main components of your business.

  • Income targets and required ‘salary’.

Start with year 5 and set the financial goal you want to be turning over then. Next decide what money you want to taking from the business (your salary). Then do this for years 3, 2 and 1.

  • Key products and services you are offering.

List out all your products and services, and highlight which ones are your key income strategy for each year. This may change from year to year of course. You may well want to add in a service (art teaching maybe) in year 2.

Work out ballpark figure of how many of your key products and services you will need to sell to meet that year target. (This is just a guideline, but should quickly tell you if what you are planning is going to work out practically speaking.) Adjust as necessary.

Then just as before, go ahead and put in years 3,2 and 1.

  • Building a team. 

Right from the beginning you want to be thinking about building a support team around you; whether that is virtual or someone who works with or for you locally. After all you didn’t become self-employed or start a business to be on your own!

Ditch the ‘super-hero’ garb and plan in when you will get your first help. (See my article on: Outsourcing 101).

Say you decide you want a team of 4 in year 5, then you will need to have 2 or 3 by year 3 and so on.

  • Your target List Size.

The size of your Database or Customer ‘List’ is the life-blood of your business, without this you just won’t make your targets.  The size of your list equals the size of your income…

Remember the rule of thumb to begin with, that 10% of your list will open and read your emails, and 10% of them will buy your products or services. This is a very rough start, and you will only know your numbers once you have started list building, sending emails and seeing how many people become paying customers.

Again put down your target list size then add in for years 3, 2 and 1.

  • Strategy to get there.

Lastly look over what you have written and ask yourself this question: If that is my goal, what needs to happen to get me there?

This is time to think outside of the box of course – and your conclusions will be what you place under ‘business strategy’.

Maybe you need a Joint Venture partner, or you need to learn a new skill; or create a high end product or maybe structure your time differently. Whatever it is, place your ideas in there. Then do the same for years 3, 2, and 1.

Step Three: Break Down Year One:

Once you have the Big Picture – you will want to flesh out much more detail in this up-coming year: Year 1.

Break it down into bite-sized chunks and do some project planning, down to specific tasks. Then diarise these and take consistent action.

Sounds simple? That’s because it is and VITAL too – so start off on paper and then transcribe it to a Word Dc or Excel Spreadsheet, which you can look at each and every day.

There you have it – need any help with your 5 year business plan, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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