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.