How to Build a Business Plan

How to Build a Business Plan: A Case Study

Forward: You would like to organize a Youth Artist Art Faire, but have never done one. You know a few artists who would jump at the chance, so have decided to bite the bullet and see what you can do. Let’s go over the basics of a business plan for this endeavor to get an idea of what’s in one. As we go, let’s use your first Faire, and see what a plan for that might look like.

DevelopinCaptureg a Business Plan:

Getting Started: Write a brief description of what you hope participants come away from the Faire with. Emphasis on brief. Complexity at this stage will complicate what follows.

In your vision for the Faire, the artists will come away with a sense of accomplishment, new confidence in their capacity to create art that the public enjoys, and a desire to engage the arts opportunities in the community. The public will come away with an understanding that youth artists’ work is Art, and that young people are a part of the larger community. Let’s look at what follows from this beginning.

MISSION:  Using your brief description as a reference, write a succinct (short and sweet) sentence which puts what participants come away with, without lots of detail. What new capacity within themselves have they gained? This is your Mission Statement, a simple sentence like, ‘… the Youth Artists’ Faire will offer an opportunity for youth artists and the general public to show and appreciate the art young people produce.’ Should call to mind the picture you see and feel when you think about the thing that drives you to do the work. For instance, if we were starting a baseball team, our mission might be “to win the pennant,” or “to win ball games.” This is the main thing that drives you.

Review and clarify the Mission Statement as you move through this process. (The details, we’ll cover in Goals and Objectives, so don’t try to say everything in the Mission Statement.) The Mission Statement I wrote above is a long sentence. As I work, I would try to shorten it, while retaining its main elements and meaning.

GOALS: These are the main things that you have to do to achieve your Mission. Try to keep them to 4 or 5. If there are some statements that seem related or similar, then just group them under one Goal. Some may turn out to be Objectives, which we will cover next. Goals to achieve the mission, “To offer an opportunity for youth artists and the general public to show and appreciate the art they produce,” might be:

• Find interested youth artists
• Locate an affordable site
• Sign artists up
• Set a date
• Advertise
• Pay necessary expenses
• Hold the show

(Some Goals and Objectives are overt, they are stated or implied in the mission statement. Others are covert, they are not stated directly, but may be obvious, but unspoken, to the writer; or may not be consciously processed at all. Covert assumptions are important to get to recognize. For instance, “Hold the Show” was a covert assumption for me; so obvious I didn’t have to say it. But that wouldn’t be as obvious for everyone, so I had to bring it out and write it down.)

Now, sort through the Goals you have articulated. Consolidate those which are similar. Prioritize them, then write out this new set of Goals. The Goals listed below, my first attempt at consolidation, are not prioritized. Pat yourself on the back! You may have realized by now that this part is not easy to do. The next parts are relatively straightforward.

• Find interested youth artists to sign up
• Set a date and locate an affordable site
• Advertise
• Pay necessary expenses
• Hold the show

Formulating Mission and Goals statements are the most difficult parts of a business plan to do. The rest is more-or-less nuts and bolts stuff. Quality time spent up front to develop a coherent mission and goals set make the rest of the process go smoothly.

OBJECTIVES: Objectives are the main things you do to accomplish your Goals, and so your Mission. Try to keep them also to 4 or 5 per Goal. If more, check to see if some can be combined. If you find one or more like this, combine them, then see if more are subsets of others. Some of these may be Functions needed to achieve an Objective. We take them up next.

I’ve written one set of Objectives here:
Goal #1, Find interested youth artists to sign up.
Objective 1A, Identify local organizations that work with youth
Objective 1B, Enlist these organizations to help identify youth artists
Objective 1C, Organize to enlist other youth artists
Objective 1D, Develop administrative infrastructure to sign youth artists up
Objective 1E, Locate volunteers to assist youth artists sign up for the Faire

Goals and Objectives don’t have to contain particulars about how to go about what they say. After writing Goals and Objectives, the next step is to address particulars, which are of two basic kinds: Functions and Tasks. Functions are the jobs it takes to accomplish a particular objective. Tasks are the steps it takes to do each job (perform each Function). We’ll stay with Functions as the most detailed items we need to address. Tasks are usually obvious, once you have articulated and understood a Goal and its Objectives, and named the Functions which will achieve each Objective.

FUNCTIONS: are the major categories of actions to achieve Objectives. They tell you how to achieve each Function. List them, and you’ve done most of the heavy work in developing a non-profit or small business plan. I’ll do one set here:

Objective 1A, Identify local organizations that work with youth
Function 1A1, Enlist a person familiar with youth networks
Function 1A2, Work with that person to draw up a list of support organizations
Function 1A3, Contact the list to find those who are willing to support the Faire

We only need three Functions here, because the next Objective, 1B, covers the next step. If 2 – 3 Functions will accomplish Objective 1B, then Objectives 1A and 1B might be consolidated. They may look like, “Objective 1A, Identify and enlist local handicapped organizations to identify handicapped artists.” Working this out would be your next step before moving to Objective 1C, which might be corrected to Objective 1B if the consolidation does work. Confusing? Of course. But, if you were the one building this plan, it would be clear once you’d got this far.

If you’ve done these things, you’ll know who you are, where you are, and what comes next. You’re on your way. If you’re interested, what follows are some details of planning which are useful. Meanwhile, if you’d like advice, or would like to send some useful experiences or information, use the Comment section below.

For a free online workshop with step by step instructions, go to SCORE.

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