Business Plan Basics For Artists – Goals and Objectives

The first few steps in developing a business plan for your art or creative enterprise are to identify your overall direction after careful consideration of you external and internal business environments and capabilities. Before you develop your Goals and Objectives you should have a good feel for your:

  • Mission / Vision
  • Values/ Beliefs
  • Internal Strengths and Weaknesses
  • External Opportunities and Threats
  • Competition
  • Your Products, Customers, and Markets

The next step in the planning process is to create a framework to accomplish your mission. The process is actually quite simple.

Goals  –>  Objectives  –>  Strategies  –>  Action Plans

What Is A Goal?

A goal is a broad term for the things you want to accomplish in your art business. Notice the emphasis on the word “broad”. At this point in developing your plan we are talking generalities. Some of the areas which you will need to develop goals for include:

Your art, creative products and services

  • Example: My goal is to produce original modern art paintings and begin a line of prints and posters.

Your markets

  • Example: My goal is to start with my local market and then expand to national and international markets.

Your brand and reputation

  • Example: My goal is to build a national and then international brand as a top modern art painter.

Your financial situation, compensation, and life style

  • Example: My goal is make a good living with my art and fund my retirement while living the artist lifestyle.

Your studio, workshop and facilities

  • Example: My goal is to move out of the coop studio and have a studio/gallery of my own in an artist’s section of a major metropolitan area

Your organization, assistants, employees

  • Example: My goal is to have assistants to help in the studio, run the day to day operations in the gallery and take care of my accounting.

What Is An Objective?

Once you have developed your list of goals you are ready to develop objectives for these goals. Objectives are typically defined as goals that have been “quantified” in terms of time to complete, cost, and other resources that can be measured. In the article “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.” by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham (Management Review vol. 70 issue 11) the authors came up with an acronym that is widely used today to help you with your goals and objectives. Here is how it works:

  • Specific: Objectives that are focused and get to the heart of what you want to accomplish.
  • Measurable: Objectives need to be stated in terms of when they will be accomplished and how much they will cost in terms of resources. If you cannot measure your objective then how will you know when they have been successfully accomplished?
  • Attainable: Your objectives should be realistic and attainable. They should be out of your grasp but not out of your reach.
  • Relevant: Maybe a better “R” might be Realistic. Look around you at your capabilities and resources, the economic environment and your competition to help you decide if your goals are realistic.
  • Time-Based: You need to quantify your goals in terms of when they will be accomplished and I would add the cost involved. Time is important to measure and track your progress. The cost of the resources needed to accomplish your objectives must be budgeted and tracked as well.

Now let’s take our sample goals and expand on them to create our objectives.

  • Goal: To produce original modern art paintings and begin a line of prints and posters.
    • Objective: To produce 25 original modern art paintings by the end of 2011, to create a line of 10 limited prints for sale by January 2012 and posters to be sold online by June 2012. I will continue to produce painting at a rate of 25 per year and release 10 limited prints each year.
  • Goal: To start with my local market and then expand to national and international markets.
    • Objective: To have my work represented in 3 local galleries by the end of 2011 and 10 national and international galleries by the end of 2012. To develop a web presence by the end of 2010 and utilize it to sell limited prints and posters not represented by a gallery.
  • Goal: To build a national and then international brand as a top modern art painter.
    • Objective: To become recognized as the top local modern art painter by the end of 2010 and begin to expand my brand nationally during 2011.
  • Goal: To make a good living with my art and fund my retirement while living the artist lifestyle.
    • Objective: To earn a net income of $50,000 in 2010, $75,000 in 2011 and $100,000 in 2012 with total sales of $100,000 in 2010, $150,000 in 2011 and $250,000 in 2012.
  • Goal: To move out of the coop studio and have a studio/gallery of my own in an artist’s section of a major metropolitan area.
    • Objective: To move out of the coop studio by mid-2011 and secure a studio/gallery in the arts district of Boston.
  • Goal: To have assistants to help in the studio, run the day to day operations in the gallery and take care of my accounting.
    • Objective: To hire an assistant in mid-2011 to help with the making of limited prints and while running the gallery. To hire an additional assistant in mid 2012 to help sell my art.

OK, you should now have a good grasp on goals and objectives – get out a pencil and paper and create your own. If you have any questions or ideas please leave them in the comments. Next: turning goals and objectives into strategies and action plans.

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About Neil McKenzie

Neil McKenzie is an author, educator and consultant to artists and arts organizations. He is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver. Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto

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