January 8th, 2007
Since the blogosphere probably won’t crumble under the weight of one more tipster-ish new year’s post, here’s what I’d like to propose all the entrepreneurs, creative types, and hopeful cubicle expats reading this site do in preparation for the remaining 357 days of the new year:
Write an informal business plan. Really. Even if you’re artistically inclined, gainfully employed, or doing pretty dang well in your current business. Even if you’re just fantasizing about changing careers or starting your own business.
Why? As Rhonda Abrams, a business plan guru I interviewed for an article a couple weeks ago, says, putting your M.O. in writing frees you from feeling like you have to leap at every thrilling opportunity that comes your way. Sure, volunteering to help put on a high-profile fundraiser for the symphony may sound sweet, but if there’s no way the gig will benefit that fledgling clothing line you’re trying to get off the ground in your spare ten hours a week, is it really worth your time?
Besides, everyone knows putting your goals in writing and breaking them into digestible nuggets is the first step toward moving from this fuzzy mindset:
Someday I will write an award-winning novel / get a job I like / start my own business on the side…
to this one:
Well, I ain’t getting any younger, so it’s time I started meeting that infamous “someday” head on. And here are the steps I’m going to take to get there…
I used to be a serious “someday” kind of gal. Then I turned thirty and realized I suddenly had a lot less somedays left than I used to. If I kept drifting along at my current state of aimlessness, I’d be forty before I knew it, and still not writing or published to my satisfaction, then fifty, sixty, seventy, and then quite possibly, dead. That scary realization catapulted me straight into goal world, where I made my master plan for world domination, which I revisit and refine each new year.*
A business plan doesn’t have to be a formal thirty-page tome (unless you’re looking for bank or investor financing). It can just be a page that says what you want to accomplish and what steps you’ll take to get there. The wise women at The Renegade Writer offer this priceless advice on creating a writer’s business plan, which I think will serve any creative, alterna-career type well. And if you get hives just saying the words “business plan,” call it a Reality Check Plan, as I do in my book.
*Lest you think I never share anything with you, I’ll give you one hit off my 2007 Reality Check Plan, which by the way, is all of 300 words long:
Goal #4: Apply for more writing residencies like this one.
Steps: By March, pinpoint three to five 2008 residencies I can apply to. Start working on applications in spring/summer, so that they’re ready to submit by summer/fall.