Starting a Business? 21 Things You Need to Know First

eleanor fb postI learned the hard way that what Eleanor Roosevelt said is too true: “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” I’m really good at wishing. Are you? In today’s post I want to share a series of questions with you that I share with each of my private coaching clients. These questions form the building blocks of our Visual Business Planning System. I have found that many creative entrepreneurs, myself included, tend to struggle with linear plans that include too many details. Planning doesn’t feel like fun, so I used to avoid it like the plague. Now I know that planning is what makes the difference between spinning my wheels or moving ahead with grace and ease towards my financial goals.
Carnegie fb post
Dale Carnegie said that one hour of planning can save you ten hours of doing. After 21 years of marriage, 18 years of parenthood and 15 years as an entrepreneur, I can attest to the truth of this statement. When I don’t plan well, everything seems to fall apart. I feel stressed out, overwhelmed or stuck. And while I know planning is essential, I often struggle to put in the effort to prepare for the day or week or year ahead. “I have so much to do… I don’t have time to plan.” I made this mistake with my first business. I got excited, asked myself “How hard can it be?” and launched a parenting magazine. I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going. I ended up broke and nearly bankrupt. Planning is what helped me to turn that business around, get it profitable, and eventually sell it.

We need to have some idea of where we are headed in our business or our business is likely to fail. In fact, not having a business plan is often cited as one of the top two reasons businesses fail. Does that mean you need a traditional, formal business plan? No! A one-age visual business plan that is colorful and creative can serve as an effective road map for your creative business. You don’t need to know all the steps right now to get to your goals, but you do need to know your destination and what the first steps are on your journey.

Step one to creating your visual business plan is to answer the questions below.

I will share step two in next week’s blog post where we will be sharing our Visual Business Plan Template.

These are the initial questions that I ask my clients as we begin the process of designing a creative and profitable business that is a match for all of who they are and supports the many roles they play: business owner, spouse/partner, parent, community volunteer, adventure seeker, athlete, yogi … you get the picture!

We are at the halfway point in the year. Are you half way to your financial goals? Have you made the time to create a roadmap for your business? It’s not too late!

In a journal or a document on your computer, answer the following questions:


  • What do you love doing more than anything else?
  • What are your core values? Take the assessment in the companion workbook to discover your Top 10 core values.
  • What does an ideal day in your business/life look like?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • What is your big WHY? (This is what keeps you working every day.)
  • Why YOU? What is your unique brilliance? What are you best at?
  • Who else is doing what you do? What do you love/admire about their work? How are you unique?

Your Clients:

  • Who is your IDEAL client, and are there enough of them in the world to create a thriving busi-ness?
  • What PROBLEMS do you solve for this client?
  • Why are you the BEST person to solve these problems?
  • What services/products do you offer to solve these problems?

Your Money:

  • What is your BOLD money goal for the next two months, six months, twelve months?
  • What is your desired MONTHLY income?
  • How many SALES do you need to make to reach that income?
  • How many PEOPLE do you need to talk to in order to get those sales?
  • What is your COST of doing business?

Your Team:

  • Who is on your support team?
  • Friends/Family/Spouse
  • Mentor/Coach
  • Hired Team (Finances and Accounting, Web/IT, Art/Media, Management, Admin, etc.)
  • Strategic Partners (other business owners who target the same specific audience that you do)

Now that you have the answers to these questions, let’s get creative! What happens with most business plans is that they end up in a binder collecting dust on the shelf, stuffed in a file folder in a drawer, or lost in the computer. Come back next week and I will share how you will turn this your answers into a beautiful Visual Business Plan!

Leslie Rivera

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *