After I answered the questions and decided I was suited to start a business, I’d like to say I was like the squirrel in the photo and immediately began planning.

This little creature is inspiring! Not satisfied with one nut, the next several are within reach. The next move is clear. However, I was much more like the dog in the animated movie “Up!” Remember how his attention immediately diverted every time he encountered squirrel? Since I didn’t need to apply for a loan or grant for start-up capital, I jumped right in. And each shiny new idea captured my attention for almost two years. Yikes!

I finally returned to the book: How to Start a Home-based Graphic Design Business by Jim Smith with Lisa Polce (link provided below). It provides clear steps to follow, beginning with how big I envisioned the business becoming, to considering “what if” scenarios to writing a business plan. The business plan brought so much into focus. It helped me realize my business was about much more than a desk, a computer and some design software in a home office. I had to answer specific questions about the services I offer, how I deliver them, who my ideal clients are and how I find them. Most importantly, I had to answer why they would hire me. I had to consider the competition and how I planned to handle market shifts. It was eye opening.

It was at this point I realized I had made a big error in judgment when I tried to wing it, being everything graphic design to everybody, including taking on work that had nothing to do with the reason I started the business. With my new focus, compliments of the business plan, I finally knew the next several steps to take. You might say my next several “nuts” were within reach.

My takeaway: Create your business plan at the beginning. It will change as experiences shape you and your business, but that is okay. Getting clarity on what you want to do and where you want to go makes getting there so much easier!

Next up: What Comes First? The Chicken or the Egg?

Link to: How to Start a Home-based Graphic Design Business