Saturday, October 17, 2009

5 year business plan

I have read many articles from business experts saying you need to have a long-term and short- term business plan.

With me wanting to make sure I try anything and everything I can to ensure my business will be successful, I set out to try and put a plan in place.

And boy, do I feel like I am missing something? The ultimate goal is to be comfortable, I'd love to get my safety net back, and a nice flow of projects coming through the studio that is fueled by "new" blood. But how does one put that into a plan? Then be able to break that plan down to yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily?

So, I put the plan to the side and focussed on how to get new blood. I realized today that I may have a plan in place that makes me feel confident to say I have a plan! Wo hoo, a plan is better than standing in the dark saying where do I go next?

I have made a marketing-tier strategy for my business. The tier starts with some free (free to me at least because I don't have to pay for my creatives) free in money but not "time." If I charge $80 an hour and I spend an hour on one of my projects that's $80 lost. If no projects are in the studio it's not really a loss, but my challenge is keeping up with my plan while active projects are in the studio. (OK, so maybe it's not so "Free.")

Back to my topic, I start with "low hanging fruit."

1) Website design keeping my portfolio up to date with recent work, monitoring my web analytics every Tuesday, and making tweaks and adjustments to the site trying to address any falling statistic. (Probably 20% of my work week.)

2) Google Alerts, Blogging and blog commenting (2 hours a day)

3) Twittering (I have a schedule to check in with my twitter activity three times a day.
If I am in production mode on a project I let this slide, but if I am in a hunting mode, I can be on this all day!)

4) Press Releases (I'd love to do one a day "5 days a week" but it takes me three drafts to come up with an idea, which is about 2 hours plus take two to three rounds with copy writers helping me put spins on the article and editing my bad grammar, so this is limited to once a week.)

5) Eblasts (They say 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Sending a bi-weekly eblast to my customers helps me know who the 20% is.)

6) Splash Page (I try and convert the eblast into a targeted landing page that can help convert the casual traffic to a more focussed conversion.)

7) Digg (I am looking for a name to call this concept. All I can think of is "Digg," it's basically a collection of sites like and

I submit these landing pages to these social networks, hoping to get some traffic and link popularity from google.

8) Podcasting and Vlogging (I love documenting my work and creative process.) In an effort to help prospects understand where their money goes when they hire me, I have developed a strategy where I document a project as I work on it. Then, I convert this process into a padcast that will launch in itunes, and vlog, and a video version of the process that I publish on my you-tube channel. (This strategy has three distinct benefits to them: a) Increases exposure, new prospects can come from these channels; b) Helps provide some insight to a prospect who is considering hiring me and my company, but does not understand why it costs so much; c) Helps me stay on track. I do so many types of creative projects, by documenting my process as I do it, I can refer to it in the future to save time relearning something that worked and/or to give me an opportunity to figure out a better way to do the project this time.)

This last item is probably the most time consuming part and along with everything else, I am hoping to get a handle on it soon and add it to my weekly task list.

Boy, with all this stuff, when do we have time to do the work? That is my biggest dilemma, but it's important that I keep up with it. This strategy is the source for new blood, and new blood is the only defense, if existing customers decide they have enough design work to last them a while.

Hopefully this strategy will yield enough rewards with new business that I will be able to fund next tiers which would include, banner ad campaigns, google ad words, direct mailers, trade publication ads, Vehicle wraps, SIgnage, and trade shows.

Basically, everything I offer clients but can't afford the production.

The point to this is this: having your own business doesn't mean you get to slack off and call it a half day just because you 'wanna' kick back. To me having your own business means you don't mind making yourself work 60 to 80 hours a week. I am hoping to balance my family and social life a bit more, because I don't want to miss my kids growing up. But, I need to be able to protect them and provide for them, so I am "nose to the grindstone," and determined to make this business work.

At last with this plan I am starting to see "new blood" and I am beginning to see rewards from these efforts. I believe I am heading in the right direction, and can't wait to see where I will be 5 years from now. Like the Adam Sandler movie click has taught me, "I ain't in no rush and hope I can enjoy every minute of it."

Let me know what you think on the subject, I'd love to hear your experiences.

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