Fix This Mistake by 2018: Make Sure You’re Running a Business, Not a Hobby
Let’s jump right into the crux of the matter, ladies. And this is a hard truth for many of us to hear, but here it goes.
If you don’t have a business plan, then you’re not running a business, you’re just busying yourself with an expensive hobby.
You’re not a hustler, you’re a hobbyist. Just because you are making an income doesn’t mean you are running a business. A hobby operates on the income and whim of the hobbyist. A business operates on a structured plan that outlines its future growth.
This is the moment you all gasp and some of you start thinking those dark thoughts that you can’t run a business, that it’s too hard, or that you don’t have what it take to make it happen. Well let me tell you: you can a run a business. You can make a business plan. And we’re going to do it together.
I’m going to walk you through the Chalkboard Method of creating effective and easy-to-follow business plans, so you can move from hobbyist to hustler.
The Easiest, Most Straightforward Business Plan
The Chalkboard Method was created by Kathleen Shannon at Braid Creative—most of you know her from the popular podcast Being Boss. She thought of this business plan method early in her creative career when she hit a wall and her client work was drying up. Her business coach encouraged her to create a system to visually track her business and her client requests, saying that “the universe abhors a vacuum” and that she “simply needed to make space—literally and metaphysically—for clients.”
Kathleen had a chalkboard wall in her home office. So she drew 12 boxes, one for each client she wanted to get. She looked at that wall every day. She hustled hard. And at the end of a week, she filled all 12 boxes. She went from zero client work to 12 clients in the queue in 7 days. And ever since that mind-blowing week, Kathleen has been perfecting the Chalkboard Method to be the go-to business planning tool for her fellow creatives.
Using the Chalkboard Method is straightforward.
First, Make a List of Things You Want to Accomplish
First, make a list of 3-5 things you want to track or accomplish. I find it best to think about a big goal you want to achieve and to break it down into mini-goals that will help you get there.
For example, my goal as a web designer is to grow my business by 30% over last year. To do that, I need to grow my:
Number of clients
Number of big projects I land
Awareness (through speaking/podcast/guest blog gigs)
Now Make it Measurable
Now all you have to do is make it measurable.
Add a trackable number to each goal on your list
Add how long you’ll be tracking this (The time period could be a month, a business quarter, or an entire year)
For example, I have a goal to line up 2 awareness gigs in Q4.
And you’re done! You have your business goals and you know what you’re measuring. You just made a simple, straightforward business plan! Welcome to the hustle.
Getting Creative: Building the Chalkboard Tracker
Now comes the fun part, building the Chalkboard Method piece.
Find a place in your working space that you look at every day.
It could be a whiteboard hanging on the wall next to your desk, your desktop background, or like Kathleen, an entire wall painted with chalkboard paint. It can be on anything you like, but the rule is that it has to be someplace you can’t ignore it.
Design an area for each of your business goals.
Let’s say your goal is to make at least $1,000 a month in sales. You could have 10 boxes that you fill in for every $100 you make. Or it could just be 4 empty lines you fill in every week with your income made, with a goal total of $1,000 totaled at the bottom.
However you want to visualize your goal, go for it. If you’re a sticky note lover, instead of filling in squares you could take down sticky notes. If you like drawing, you could color designs in with colored pencils to mark your progress. This is your business plan, so be creative! For more ideas, search for Chalkboard Method in Instagram and Google images to see what other people have done.
Start Tracking Your Walk to Success
Once your Chalkboard Method business plan is complete, it’s time to start tracking. Make sure you look at the plan and keep tracking towards your goals.
Reflect On Your Progress
When you’ve reached the end of the time, take a picture of your Chalkboard Method plan and spend a few moments reflecting on your progress.
Did you meet your goals?
Do you have new goals?
What do you want to measure and track in your next business plan?
Many people find it helpful to spend a few minutes journaling their thoughts.
Repeat and Rebuild
After you’ve had time to reflect, it’s time to get started on your next business plan. On the second time around I recommend personalizing the plan even more.
Some things to add are:
Inspirational word or phrase you want to focus on during that time
An area to list 1-3 big goals you’re working on for the entire year
A blank area to write amazing success stories
A list of important dates
Things you want to learn to do
The definition of your dream client
Title of blog posts you write
Names of dream clients you want to land
How many times you said no to bad opportunities,
Whatever is a goal or marker of success to you that you want to remember, put it on your business plan.
Did you follow all those steps above? Congratulations! You are now running a business, not a hobby. Welcome to the hustle!
Author Sarah Eggers:
I’m Sarah, and I’m a web designer and marketer who loves working with small business owners and bloggers. And they love how helpful, cheerful, and thorough I am when we work together on a website design or a marketing strategy. I specialize in WordPress development and am a Certified ConvertKit Expert.