I’m a bit of an impulsive creature, and when I decide on something, I go all out to do it. Creating a business plan is the last thing on my mind.
2 years ago, when I first noticed that people were selling digital items on Etsy, I suddenly realised maybe this was something I could do. I then spent a lot of effort creating some planners, sat back, and waited for the money to roll in. Finally, 3 months later, I got my first sale for £2.50! That was it!
It was probably a further 3 months before I started to get more consistent sales, and that was for 1 product. This product was not even in line with all of my other planners. It was a financial spreadsheet. This was a product that I wanted for my own purposes, and I decided I would put it out there to see what would happen.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I had an Etsy bestseller badge before I knew it.
And I believe it was this bestseller badge that gave the product traction.
This product didn’t have the best images; if anyone knows how to make a spreadsheet look pretty, please feel free to let me know! It wasn’t even that great a spreadsheet, although I develop it further to improve it and make it more user friendly.
This was all done by experimenting but with no real business plan.
At this point, I decided I needed to stop winging it and start being more focused on what I did and learn how to do it better.
I honestly didn’t realise there were so many tactics involved in making a sale. Of course, this makes it even more remarkable that I actually made any money!
However, I often still slip into the winging it mentality and have to pull myself up to consider my actions. This takes a considerable effort at times, as my instinct is to just get it done.
Knowing that it is possible helps focus you, but knowing where to start or what to do if you have many ideas is more challenging.
This strategic thinking is missing from a lot of creative businesses. It is the clincher on whether it will be a success or not.
Interestingly, a lot of creative small businesses don’t think strategically. They are still in hobby mode.
Many makers make their product first and experiment to see if it’s going to sell. Then all of a sudden, they have an Etsy shop, with maybe a few sales and limited profit. So they get into a cycle of just creating anything to see what works. And pull their hair out, wondering why it’s not selling.
I know I have been there!
Running a business is different to running a hobby.
Here’s the thing. While you’ve been playing at running a business, you are actually running a business, but you’re running it without a plan.
When you are running a small business, you need to do it with a sense of purpose, which means creating a business plan.
Having a business plan means you give yourself clarity.
It helps overcome many issues that creative business owners encounter, such as lack of direction or decision making.
If you’ve got a plan, you’ll know what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to get there. This makes decision making, or knowing what you should be doing, soooo much easier!
You also avoid getting overwhelmed.
Stress, fear, procrastination, and a general feeling of being stuck are caused by not knowing what to do next. You already know you’ve got a lot to do, you just don’t know what you should be doing.
Having a business plan helps you focus on what you SHOULD be doing instead of what you COULD be doing.
To give you direction, your business plan just needs to answer a few simple questions, such as:
- What do you want your business to provide?
- How much money do you need to get to that point?
- What products do you intend to sell?
- How many products do you need to sell to make your desired income?
- Who are you going to sell to?
- How are you going to find that audience?
- How will you continue to market to that audience?
Key topics like this are all you need to give yourself direction and enable you to make progress and grow your business. It also helps you avoid wasting time and making too many mistakes, especially around money.
For instance, if you know the sales numbers you’re targeting, then you’re able to better judge how much materials you need to buy. Likewise, if you know the audience numbers you need to make the sales you require, you can decide how you will get that audience.
Knowing the sales and audience numbers you need gives you the starting point for every business decision you make.
Because you’ve got a goal in mind, then you can budget accordingly and save money where you need to.
Many of the common problems business owners have can all be sorted out or helped by having a business plan.
Your business plan doesn’t need to be big or complex. And certainly not if it’s just going to be for you and is not required to get finance. So make it as enjoyable and creative as you want.
Create aspiration boards, draw out your dream or simply write it down in a journal. Use whatever makes it memorable, so you are constantly reminded of it and don’t veer off track.
If like me, you want to have your goals and reasons front and centre of your everyday working life, then the My Business Hub is what I use to reign me in from winging it. So I avoid wasting my time on products that don’t serve my audience and manage my workload in one central place. All with my end goals linked. So now I know that whatever I do is centred around meeting my goals. It is a template built on the free Notion framework, and it will help you keep track of everything you need/want to do with a handy Dashboard to show you how you are progressing.