Craft Superstars: Jennifer Lee, Author of The Right-Brain Business Plan

Jennifer LeeEvery business, even a small creative one, needs a plan — a road map to define your direction and your future. But for many creatives, for whom planning and numbers don’t come easily, the process can feel scary. Have you ever sat down to write your business plan and felt so bored or overwhelmed, you gave up? Why not try creating a right-brain business plan?

IndieMade talked with Jennifer Lee, author of  “The Right-Brain Business Plan,” to discover how to write your business plan in a way that uses the creativity that comes naturally to artists crafters, or designers. (For starters, your plan doesn’t have to involve putting pen to paper!)

What resistance do you hear from creatives when it comes to writing a business plan? How can they get past that resistance?

Creative types are often intimidated by the dry format of traditional business plans — the lengthy templates, the complex spreadsheets. They resist feeling like they need to stuff their colorful spirit into a stifling black and white 3-inch binder that collects dust on a shelf. To move past this block, make your business plan a work of art that inspires you!

Your business plan can look any way you want, especially if it's just for you and you're not seeking outside funding. So why not make a fun Right-Brain Business Plan that's colorful and engaging? The Right-Brain Business Plan has the same building blocks as a traditional plan, but because we approach the planning through pictures, colors, emotion, and intuition, it’s business planning for the rest of us.

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What tips do you have for finding motivation to write your business plan when you'd rather be creating?

Find a way to make it fun. Since you already love creating, how about planning in the same fun way that you create? What are your favorite mediums that inspire you? Do you love collage? Do you love to paint or sew? Why not incorporate that into your planning? Some creative formats of Right-Brain Business Plans have included a leather cuff bracelet, a sewn quilt, a paper plate mobile, and an altered children’s picture book decorated with glitter and feathers. Anything goes as long as it helps you get clear about where you're going and how you'll get there.

Another tip is to find accountability buddies that can help keep you on track. Set up a time to check in with each other to share your progress.

Also, planning doesn't need to happen all at once. Weave it into your schedule bit by bit, and don't wait until the plan is finished to take action. Your plan will become more clear as you start to test things out in the real world.

If you’re an entrepreneur who’s overwhelmed about how to write your business plan, where should you start?

I suggest getting in touch with the big vision of your business first. What excites you about the work you're doing? What are you most passionate about? How does it feel imagining your vision coming true? When you start from a place of inspiration, it's much easier to find your flow and get started with the planning.

To get in touch with your big vision, you can download the Big Vision Visualization from the book for free here. From there you can make your Big Vision Collage and have that be a foundation for the rest of your plan.

Or if you want to start with something even more simple, you could get some colorful markers and paper or sticky notes and start making notes or mind maps about your goals and action steps. That's often what I'll do when I'm starting to plan a new project.

How can right-brain attributes like creativity and intuition be strengths when you write your business plan?

Your creativity and intuition are pathways to innovation, and innovation is what can help your business stand out from the crowd. When you approach business planning with your right brain first, you free your mind to see creative options, explore, and find patterns, and purpose. You may discover things that you would've never thought possible if you began with your left brain first.

What's your best trick for making business planning enjoyable?

It really depends on what speaks to your heart. What lights you up and makes your heart sing? Use that as a guidepost. For a lot of people, finding a creative format that inspires them really makes the planning process fun. Don't spend a whole lot of time deciding what the format will be, but pick something that you get excited about — whether it's a collaged book, a box with cards, or a painted mural.

I also practice what I call Right-Brain Boosters. These are short, quick tips for enhancing your creativity. They include things like playing motivating music, getting out in nature, or doodling. You can get Right-Brain Boosters on the RBBP website and on our Facebook page.

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