What comes first when I’m starting a business plan?

What comes first when I start planning for my business?

#Businessplanningbasics #thesamblog

So you’ve decided to kick your dream up a notch and start working on a business plan. You open the blank document, your fingers are on the keyboard… now what?  
Here’s what SAM has to say:  

Start with figuring out your revenue sources…

First things first, you need to know the reasonable places where you can get revenue. Generally, in arts organizations, there is revenue from ticket sales, program advertising, registration fees, that kind of thing. But don’t forget about the other less glamorous side of things, like asking for money with grant proposals and fundraising. When you are starting out, you generally can’t afford to skip on one of your possible sources of revenue. So focus up – finding out your revenue sources tells you where to put your efforts so that you can take off.  

… then figure out how much revenue is realistic in the first few years… 

Next, you’ve got to look at the numbers and find out what’s a realistic revenue target. And you have to do your research first. So rather than kind of just saying, well, we’ll sell $10,000 worth of tickets, it is far more worthwhile to go to similar companies and figure out how much money they generate through ticket sales and other revenue sources. So grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and ask those with a bit more experience what you should be expecting before you write down a random number.  

… and then move on to project planning. 

The first two steps were all about getting your foundations right, and making sure your expectations are realistic. Don’t be so pessimistic that you don’t even try to build your dream business, but keep your early goals manageable so you can achieve them and gain momentum. Then, from that solid foundation, you can see which projects to start with and where you should be investing your time, money and effort.  

It may feel counterintuitive to build in this way. You have this idea for your organization’s first project and all you want to do is make the project work, no matter the cost… but hold on. Consider taking it slow. Consider working up to your ultimate dream project over a few years. Why? Because then you can work up your organization’s resources and connections so that your project (and your organization) makes a bigger impact. 

Plan and build with intention. And if you start to struggle with your strategic plan, you know who to call. (hint: it’s us!)

Looking for more #businessplanningbasics?

Follow us on your favourite social media site and be the first to know when our next article is released.

Can’t I just wing it? Why business plans matter for your success.

Can't I just wing it? Why business plans matter for your success.

#businessplanningbasics #thesamblog

DSCF0230 (2)

So you want to start an arts organization. Whether you have dreams of on a stage or around a campfire, bringing together Nova Scotia’s best step dancers, or teaching students how to make sense of a trombone – once you decide to turn this dream into a reality, you need a plan. Or do you? 

I sat down with SAM staff and consultants to find out whether you actually need to make a business plan before getting started, and why it may be the step that separates your organization from the rest of the startups

You can totally start an organization without a business plan, but don’t expect things to progress quickly.

Let’s face it – getting a group of extremely busy arts practitioners together and committed to starting an arts organization is hard enough. Picking a NAME is hard enough. Once you get through that tricky bit, it can be tempting to just run out of the gate and start creating, start teaching. And that can definitely work for many organizations, especially if the stakes are low at the beginning. To just see if something can work, it can be incredibly helpful to just jump in, get things going, and see where they go. But the more money and time you put into something, the more you and your fellow practitioners will want a beneficial return. And that’s where a business plan comes in. 

Investing some time planning up front saves you time in the long run.

It’s a huge slog to write a business plan – crunching numbers, figuring out the realistic sources of revenue.. It’s time-consuming and a little disheartening to face the financial realities of starting an arts organization. But the time upfront is well worth it if you want to reach your goals more quickly. In the early stages, it can be easy to get side tracked. Figuring out where you are, where you want to go, and how you can get there – that’s how you build a map that leads you where you want to go.  

You can avoid getting sucked into grant writing rabbit holes that don’t serve your needs.

Making sure your organization is on track in the early stages is hugely important. It can tell you where to put your efforts, and how much something really matters to your goals. It comes down to figuring out what you need and distinguishing that from what it would be great to have. If you prioritize your organization’s needs first, you won’t get stuck investing your limited time and resources into yet another grant program that doesn’t serve your needs. Because it’s not about doing everything and seeing what sticks – it’s about not wasting your time and ensuring that you get the best return for every minute you spend investing in your dream. 

That way, you can get back to focusing on your passion, on developing new work, running an accordion band, or step dancing to the Rolling Stones. Or all three at once, if that’s your style.

Looking for more #businessplanningbasics?

Follow us on your favourite social media site and be the first to know when our next article is released.