A Creative Business Plan Vs. Traditional
A traditional business plan is long, boring and chock-full of graphs, financial projections and business terminology. Are you the kind of person who finds the idea of writing one of these utterly unappealing? Me too, so here’s a more refreshing approach to business planning for creative people – the Creative Business Plan.
Why Even Have a Business Plan?
If you are starting a business, or if you already own or manage one, then a creative business plan makes a lot of sense.
Basically you have two choices – either float along day after day and hope for the best or take the future of your business into your own hands by identifying where you want to go and aiming for that.
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Business plans are used for two purposes: one is to inspire and focus your own vision of where the business is going; the second is to score finance. This article is about the former and not the kind of business plan that would impress a lender. However you could use your personal creative business plan as a starting point from which to construct a traditional business plan to impress the suits.
The Problem with Business Planning
Business planning is all very well, the problem however, is that it can be a real pain in the neck for creative types and those with short attention spans (i.e. those who find it difficult sitting down and focussing on the nitty-gritty for hours on end; those would rather get up and do something now). Images come to mind of sample business plans that you have seen or been forced to do: onerous tomes full of spreadsheets, graphs and torturous sounding terms like “financial projections” and “strategic objectives”.
I know – I went there recently because I needed to stop just “being busy” and start focussing on where I really wanted to go. I decided I should write a creative business plan but with limited time and limited capacity to focus on what I see as “drudgery” and speculation, I soon became a little despondent. Everything I saw, even “fill-in the blanks” type templates, were obviously designed for retentive types who like their collars well-starched and their holiday itinerary pre-scheduled down to the last non-alcoholic cocktail.
However digging a little harder I found two books that helped me shake up the whole idea of a business plan in order to both address my attention-span issue and my need to avoid drudgery in favour of creative expression and fun.
Right Brained Business Planning
This new book, The Right-Brained Business Plan by Jennifer Lee is awesome and I suspect that a lot of florists (and creatives in general) are going to love it. Basically the author takes the classic structure of a business plan and approaches it from another angle altogether, helping so-called “right-brained thinkers” razzle up a creative business plan without getting bored to death and depressed.
Right-brained thinkers are defined by Lee as preferring “colours, images, and feelings to spreadsheets, tables and templates” and as being “turned off by the formality and nitty-gritty detail of traditional business planning”. So instead of trying to force your round peg into this square hole, Lee suggests you instead feel free to use any creative method you resonate with to create a vision for your business and a plan to take it forward.
Replacing “yawn-inducing” sub-headers such as “Executive Summary”, “Operational Plan” and “Financial Plan” with more colourful titles like “Hearty Highlights”, “Smooth Sailing System” and “Managing the Moola”, Lee takes the reader on a journey to render their business vision with paint, collage, creative writing, or whatever media you resonate with.
The book is a joy; concise and bright with quirky illustrations and examples of real world entrepreneurs who have used her liberating ideas to create their vision. It certainly helped me – although I am not big on arty-crafty stuff, so I decided to build a password protected website to render my plan – horses for courses!
My only small problem with the book was that I didn’t want to spend countless hours putting my plan together, so in an effort to streamline the process I turned to a second book that I also found very useful.
The One Hour Business Plan
Although the One Hour Business Plan is not as hip n’ funky as the Right Brained Business Plan, it is quite new and I found it to super-useful. Author Joe Calhoon’s premise is that you only need about an hour of your time and one sheet of paper to write a useful creative business plan, which I found very appealing.
The author then informs you that you can either follow the short-cuts to quickly put together your plan or you can go deeper into each of the chapters. I decided to first use the short-cuts and then re-explore the book’s details at my own leisure. Basically the author gets you to answer 3 questions:
- Where do you want to go?
- Where are you now?
- How will you get there?
Then he breaks this down into the following creative business plan structure:
- Vision – describe the big goal that will inspire you and your team
- Mission – define why your organization exists, the contribution it offers
- Values – define the standards of behaviour that will help you and your team enjoy working together
- Objectives – define the measures of success for your business
- Issues – identify the big issues that must be addressed
- Strategies – define the major categories of work that must be done
- Priorities – define who needs to do what and by when
By combining Calhoon’s super-simple One Hour Business Plan with Lee’s playful, expressive Right Brain Business Plan, I had a workable creative business plan ready in about a day, which suited me because I prefer to just get on with it than spend too long over-planning. The thing I liked about the end result was that now whenever I feel overwhelmed and “foggy’ (unable to clearly “see” the woods for the trees), I can go back to my simple, creative business plan and remind myself of the big picture, which in the end is what I wrote my business plan for.
So if you’ve been putting off writing a business plan for your flower shop because traditional business planning makes you want to curl up into a ball and hide – well – you no longer have an excuse! Buy these books, borrow the kids’ art supplies and get busy!
Photo sourced from the Right Brain Business Plan website
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