Artist Business Planning

Download AEI Business Plan Template

Think of a business plan like a road map, No matter which route you ultimately choose, or what ends up happening along the way, you can always refer back to it to get your bearings. Whether you use the newest technology or prefer paper and highlighter, the business plan is a guide to help you arrive at your destination and make well-informed decisions along the way.

Artists are natural entrepreneurs. Business research shows that successful entrepreneurs:

  • Take calculated risks
  • Have a clear sense of purpose and drive to be the best (whatever best may mean to you)
  • Adapt quickly
  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses relative to their competition
  • Understand their target market and how to reach them
  • Are comfortable with uncertainty

Even with all of the above, the most seasoned entrepreneurs and business managers fail more often than they succeed. So we’re here to help lift you up and have your back.

Why Do Artists Need a Business Plan?

A business plan helps you structure your own thinking about your business model. You already think outside the box. This is a new box to help you funnel and organize those thoughts.

You can use this time to tests your ideas and stimulate strategic thinking. Not every idea is a good one, and even the best ideas need good management to become reality. The process of writing a business plan will help you think strategically AND creatively.

Focus on one or two goals that will be most likely to help you build some startup wealth through your art, then add on from there. Trying to achieve everything all at once can be overwhelming. Why not prioritize?

Identifies risks and solutions

Look before you jump. Take the risks you want to take based on your overall concepts and vision.

Identify gaps in your business model before you go live!

See and work through flaws, risks and potential failures before they are at your doorstep. This will save you a lot of time, energy and money in the long run.

People can better help you succeed if you can articulate your vision of success.

So when relatives ask you, “So, what do you do?” you can give them an answer they can understand and get excited about…among many other more business-savvy reasons.

Having clearly put in the time and research to document your idea and prove it has merit will help you raise capital.

People generally are not going to throw money at you without reason. Investors, even a crowd of investors, want to know that you can, and will, deliver.

Most importantly, a business plan helps you determine if your idea – in theory- can actually work.

Many people start businesses without knowing what they’re getting into to varying degree’s of success, and if that’s what you need to get started, we are all for it! But when it gets daunting, or if you’re not in a position to risk it all, sometimes it helps to write it out and think it through. If you work through all the numbers and angles, and find out the business you’re dreaming up costs more than it can ever earn back…it’s better to have lost a few hours and some paper, than all the startup capital it would have taken to figure it out the hard way. Plus it’s a lot easier to revise your plan and strategies so that it will make money before you’ve ever spent a dime!

There is a ton of information out there on building your business plan. AEI addresses the unique business challenges many creative entrepreneurs face head on. The content of your business plan will help you make your case for a potential commission for example, or a banker who questions your revenue stream. While the tone of a business plan may not feel entirely natural to you, we encourage to throw away all notions of “left-brain vs right-brain,” “corporate,” or “stuffy.” Break down your own perceptual barriers, rise above the stigmas out there, and make your passion your business.

Reflection Questions

  1. What are your biggest concerns about your creative enterprise?
  2. Are the items you just listed practical concerns, or perceptual barriers to building a successful, self-sustaining career with your art or creative practice?
  3. Write down 3 strategies to help preserve your artistic integrity.
  4. Are artists conditioned to avoid making a profit or developing a business?
  5. What ave you already overcome and acheived to get you to this point?
  6. What is still holding you back?