Tag Archive for organization

The business and marketing plan I should have made years ago

That handsome dude you see to your left? That’s me. As I write this, it’s a soft Instagram photo of the first day I put on a suit to attend my first Legion meeting as a member of the executive committee. I’m a little unshaven, a little uncomfortable in a tie and a little full of myself (no, seriously, I take a lot of self-portraits). I’m also seriously lacking a business and marketing plan for what has become the central element of my life.

That is, my business as a self-employed person who mostly makes a living tapping away at a keyboard on a laptop computer.

And let’s face it; I’m a typical creative person. I just want to write and watch the money flow in. But that’s not how the business world works. And although I have never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to draft a business or marketing plan, I’ve always had some idea of what I was doing in the back of my mind. I like to think of it as the “fly by the seat of my pants while wearing a strong belt” approach to entrepreneurship.

I’m not going to call it nagging, but a friend and business advisor has on occasion suggested to me that maybe I should think about putting together a more concrete plan. In the less than a year that I’ve known and talked business with her, I’ve mostly ignored her advice.

Until this week, anyway. And I’m sure Linda was shocked I actually listened to her … finally.

I sat down earlier this week, created a new Google Doc and typed the words I always dreaded. “Business and marketing plan.” And over the course of that day, I started to lay out exactly what I did as a small business owner, what I hoped to accomplish and some of the markets I wanted to tackle.

And for all you other creative types out there that dread writing your business plan, I have to say I had mixed feelings afterwards. In a sense, I wasted much of a day on something that doesn’t directly earn me revenue. But in another sense, I laid out a plan that could take my business to the next level and provide me with more security in the future — assuming I follow it, that is.

Since then, I feel it has at least had the effect of providing more focus to what I’m doing. I know who my clients are. I know what kind of writing I want to do. I know what potentially revenue-generating projects I want to take on by myself. And I know I’m in good shape and love the life I’m living.

If there’s anything more important than that, I don’t know what it is. And so I know I should have written this plan out years ago. My full-time freelance career began more than three years ago, and I’ve had my ups and downs. There are no regrets, but in the last year, I have learned that this is absolutely what I want to do for the rest of my life. I experimented with staff work again, and it wasn’t for me.

There have been signs all along the way in the path of my career that pointed to becoming self-employed. It took a hard stop with a former employer to push me into it, but now that I’m here, I’m not going anywhere. My business and marketing plan should help to ensure I continue paying bills and scribbling away.

Goals for 2013

Every year, resolutions are made on January 1st, frequently to be broken by January 7th. Years ago, I resolved not to make resolutions. Instead, I make goals. This year, it has been difficult coming up with goals, as I’m in a very good place right now. I love where I live. I love what I’m doing. I love the people around me. I have a great network of friends and family, both locally and abroad. And I have a great career that seems to be building towards what I really want it to be.

Here are the few goals I’ve made for myself for 2013. I reserve the right to add more goals or fail at the existing ones as I see fit.

1. Expand into at least one new market or publication. I expanded into a couple of new markets this year (automotive and Northern business reporting through SSGM and Up Here Business, respectively). I may always specialize in IT writing, but I like to expand my horizons and learn new things. In 2013, my goal is to expand into an as-yet-unknown new market or publication.

2. Post regularly to Beer In Canada. In 2011, I made the goal of bringing the number of posts on BiC to 300. I failed … miserably, even. Today, two years later, there are 255 published blog posts (including videos) on BiC. My goal is to post twice daily on BiC and try to make it the website I really think it could be — a coast-to-coast-to-coast beer news, views and reviews site. Also, I seriously need to update the site’s design, which is something I vowed to do at least a year ago.

3. Explore more of the North. In 2012, I moved to the Northwest Territories — one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life (so far, anyway). I live in a small wilderness community called Fort Smith and have visited other NWT communities, including Hay River, Fort Providence (kind of) and Yellowknife. I want to see more of the communities and the outdoor beauty of the NWT. I want to drive across the new Deh Cho Bridge that crosses the Mackenzie River, spend more time in Yellowknife and, if things come together, visit at least one or two communities I have yet to see. Although it probably won’t happen until 2014, I really want to drive up to Inuvik along the Dempster Highway — a long trip from Fort Smith, but one I suspect will be worth it.

4. Practice blues harmonica. I bought a harmonica in 2011. I bought two more in 2012. I still can’t play them worth a damn. I wanted to learn because of people like Jerome Godboo and Adam Gussow, and I have slacked off too much. Gussow recommends no less than 30 minutes of practice time per day for those that want to learn to play. There’s my goal for 2013. I’d be happy to learn to play well enough to entertain around a campfire. I don’t want to be a professional musician.

5. And finally, don’t be a dick. Following Wheaton’s Law is difficult sometimes, but I think I did fairly well this year. I had my slips, but my goal is to do better in 2013. If you follow one rule in life, take a lesson from Wil Wheaton. Don’t be a dick. If everyone followed this rule, well … wouldn’t life be awesomesauce?

Setting business goals for 2011

Happy New Year, and may you have a great 2011.

As I look back to my first year of business as a full-time freelance writer, I’m happy with what I accomplished, and now that I’m entering my second year of business, I’m looking ahead at what I’d like to accomplish this year. I believe it’s important to set goals in order to be successful, and after rolling goals around in my head over the last couple of weeks, I now know what I’m going to work towards in the new year.

Have you set business goals for the year?

Chris Talbot