Friday, 26 February 2010

Business Plans for Art Businesses Part 1

"Fail to Plan
Plan to Fail"

In a previous post I said that I would be blogging about Business Plans and how to write one. Well, true to my word, here is the first of 3 posts on the subject. I have broken it up into sections to make a tedious task more palatable - after all, who writes business plans for fun?

Why write a Business Plan?
A business plan is a vital tool for any business, whether you are a new arts business or an exisiting business. There are two reasons why you should do this:

  • to show potential funders, financial institutions, backers or partners that you have a viable business that is worth investing in

  • as an exercise in analysing your business potential, finances, measure your current performance against future performance and, most importantly, high light any flaws or gaps in your business.
Your plan should show the Who, What, Where, How and Why of your business. WHO is involved (you, other businesses, customers/clients) WHAT you are doing and going to do in the future, WHERE you do it, HOW it operates and WHY you do it(and why people need it).
Your Business Plan will consist of information in each of the following headings:
  • The Executive Summary (we'll deal with this in the last post)
  • A description of your business (the easy part)
  • Your Marketing Strategy (the fun part)
  • Your team (only relevant if you are not a sole trader)
  • Your Operations (where you do it and how you do it)
  • Your Financial Forecast (the difficult part).
In my next post I shall be talking about how to write a description of your business - what it should include and how the layout of the business plan should look.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Normal Service Will Be Resumed ....

as soon as my computer is fixed! Terry the Trouble Shooter is coming today to look at the "patient" and the new post "Business Planning" should be ready by the weekend.
Meanwhile - I'll make a start on the ironing.

Friday, 5 February 2010

I did it myself!

Following on from Branding Your Arts Business we continue to explore the world of marketing and branding your business with a book review. And the book is.....
D.I.Y. Design It Yourself.

Described as a manual for anyone wanting to design their own branding and publicity materials,
Design It Yourself covers a wide range of different visual media and packaging ideas. The book is a collaborative project by post graduate students from the Maryland Institute College of Fine Arts and edited by graphic designer and author Ellen Lupton. This is a soft back book bursting with graphic design ideas from Books to Zines, Blogs to Websites and everything else in between.
Who is this book for? This book is aimed at anyone who is not a graphics or design graduate but has basic idea of design and layout. Primarily, it is a book about IDEAS and is written in a style that makes the reader think "yeah - I can do that".
What about the content? The first three chapters: Why D.I.Y? D.I.Y Theory and Basic Design are a Must-Read as they delve into the Why Who and How of design - why we need design to get our "message" out, who we are targetting with our message and how we are going to create a strategy to get that message to those people. The subsequent chapters are alphabetical from Blogs through to Zines. Design It Yourself covers media design and old fashioned illustration with great promotional ideas such as making books, printing on textiles, designing logos and my favourite, making and decorating envelopes.
The layout of the book is clean and clear (which you would expect from a book created by design students) with great images and photographs. It is not a book to copy designs from - you can buy books and CDs for this from
Dover Bookshop - but a book about cultivating your own design ideas and creating your own branding and marketing campaign.
So, is this a great book? Not exactly. Some of the chapters are too basic - these are the ones about on-line tools such as blogging, web design and, most disappointingly, Presentations. The ideas and advice were fairly sketchy and, if you are a total novice, you would be better advised just to follow the templates direct from the blog site or use a website package such as
Websites for Artists. Plus the examples of websites, blogs and presentations weren't particularly inspiring. However, the chapters on Press Kits, Postcards, Logos and Books had plenty of information and great ideas to start the reader thinking about how they can stamp their own design style onto these promotional tools.
Oh, and check out the chapter on Brands. Mike Weikert takes the reader through the processes of branding and brand identity, using his company,
Small Roar, as the example. A whole book of different companies talking about branding and marketing of their products would make a great read.
Am I glad I bought it? Yes, as a book on design and style it sits alongside The Laura Ashley Book of Home Decorating and my Habitat catalogues from the seventies and eighties, although Design It Yourself is not a design classic (and didn't set out to be one). This book was first published in 2006 and, with all books covering technology and design, will date fairly quickly. Design is about selling a life style and addressing how people aspire to live and current design trends lean more toward the hand made and vintage rather than slick design and CAD.
Jo Whitehead

The opinions and views in this book review are solely that of the author and not the general opinion of Artists in Business. Neither the author or AIB has received any payment or sponsorship in exchange for the review nor has the content of this review been influencedby any third party.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

10 Tips for a Successful Arts Business

All self help books have magic number tips such as 10 good tips, 7 bad tips (how not to do something) and 3 rules to live by! So, in the spirit of the self help book here are my top 10 tips to starting a successful arts business.

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1. Carpe diem! In the words of Los Campesinos, If it seems like a good idea then it IS a good idea. Start researching how you can turn your art into a business. Get some good business advice from your local Business Link or visit a business consultant.

2. Be honest with yourself. Do you have a product that people will want to buy or are you making art for yourself? a lot of people say they love your work but would they be willing to part with their money to prove this?

3. Be willing to put in the hours. Being self employed is great, you can work when you want and there's no-one else to tell you what to do. Actually, being self employed can be very lonely and more demanding than working 9 to 5. Are you willing to stay late, burning the midnight oil when everyone else is at the pub?

4. Know your sums. Calculate the cost of everything you make, including your hourly rate and then work out your profit. Don't forget to work out your overheads and running costs. Keep accurate records and, if you are not hot with figures, go on a book keeping course. Try and live by the expression "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves"

5. Know Your Competition. Find out what everyone else is doing - look at their strengths and weaknesses, find out how they market their art, compare their pricing and look at how you can improve your business on THEIR performance.

6. Know Your Customer. Who will your potential customers be? Who will you appeal to? Where do they buy their art? What kinds of galleries/shops do they go to? What are they willing to pay?

7. Have a sure-fire Business Plan. Business plans are boring but, if you need to borrow money or to further your business, then you will need one. And you should WANT one too - a business plan can help you plan for the future, work out the direction you want to take your business in and identify all your strengths and weaknesses. (I will be blogging about business plans soon).

8. Organize. This means sort out your studio and make it an efficient place to work. Sort out your schedule - learn to prioritise your time so that you are not wasting time gazing at art on the internet instead of making it.

9. Networking. It's all very romantic starving in a garret but sometimes you have to come out and meet people. You can network with Twitter and Facebook (easy) but you also need to talk to real people about your work. Visiting galleries and exhibitions is a great way to network - you are your art's ambassador.

10. My Year in Lists. Make lists. Set targets. Stick to them. Lists give you a raison d'etre, goals to work toward. Lists include Your Strengths/Weaknesses, Mailing Lists, List of Tasks, Shopping Lists.