If I have a weakness (apart from chocolate!) it would have to be books: to read or to write and draw in!! I’m a sucker for a bookshop, even better if it is a long established one… just the warm, musky aroma of fragile paper and time-worn covers is enough! So, when it comes to creative biz stuff, what are your favourites?
In terms of business planning, the first two books that spring to my mind are choc-full of practical information and inspiration. They are also ideally suited to those who ‘think’ creatively too.
The first, “The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Dreams Real” by Lisa Sonora Beam, is an excellent starting place when nurturing the tiny, fragile seedlings of an idea or even if you have no real idea at all! Through a series of exercises, insightful questions and colourful diagrams, Lisa gently teases out all our unique qualities, strengths, skills, experiences and aspirations to suggest potential business opportunities. She then guides us through the process of melding all this information into simple but coherent, workable plans of action, including target setting, marketing and even strategies for overcoming challenges. She fully appreciates the need of artistic-types to both explore and present information creatively, and subsequently this book is a wonderful encouragement to do so. Although the guidance in this book is quite structured, the reader is encouraged to present their findings in their own unique way in order to properly take ownership of their ideas. As such, there is a wealth of photographs documenting the plans of a variety of artists and creatives – lots and lots of ‘eye candy’!
The “The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative Visual Map for Success”, by Jennifer Lee, in many ways compliments Lisa’s book exceedingly well. It too seeks to tease out the idiosyncracies of creative ideas but this time, rather than responding to searching questions, we are encouraged to create detailed collages that encapsulate business dreams and passions instead. Building on this information, Jennifer then explores the practicalities of action planning for specific business areas including finances, support networks, marketing and operational organisation. There’s tips for crafting vision statements and even suggestions as to how to present ideas in a more ‘formal’ way ie. when discussing plans with the Bank! Ultimately what is created is a rich, practical and evolving ‘map’ to guide a creative entrepreneur through. Invaluable when seeking to build and grow an already established business in line with core values and passions.
So, while Lisa’s book is ideal for those just starting out and with no clear idea as to where they are heading, Jennifer’s book is better suited to those who are already beginning to build and grow their businesses. I heartily recommend them to you.
However wonderful both books are though, business planning needn’t be complicated. More and more now I simply use a notebook where I scribble down dreams, ideas and inspiration. Periodically I sift through this jumble of ponderings and evaluate each one. Sometimes I reject them entirely while others I research and explore further. I find it helpful to ‘chew’ over ideas for a short while before taking any action, as its amazing how much richness and detail can be added as they are further refined and tweaked. But ultimately the aim is to devise goals, strategies and a sequence of action ‘steps’ to actually achieving them as quickly as possible, before I lose the courage to follow them through!! These steps are noted down in my diary against particular dates, giving myself something to focus on each day. In addition I usually string them up on post-its in my studio as a constant reminder too. Step by step. Slowly, slowly. Works for me anyway!
What books would you recommend? How do you plan and set yourself targets etc?