Are Business Plans Necessary for Creatives? SMU’s Thomas Beckham Decides

The following are three interviews with creative entrepreneurs and analysis, each conducted by SMU student Thomas Beckham. Interviews took place in the course Developing an Arts Venture Plan and were conducted to hear from the field, perceive if business plans are necessary and further develop network connections.

Ethan Schnitzer EthanSchnitzer(ALXNDR)


DJ / EDM Producer – ALXNDR has previously opened for Marshmello and JAUZ in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico at The NoWhere Beach Club. He will also be opening for Knife Party at The Hard Rock in Las Vegas.

Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

“No I didn’t. Opportunities in the music industry are based off chance and networking skill. It is hard to force opportunities in the music industry. You can’t just reach out to random artists and expect them to support you. The way to book shows it is through networking. You can’t create a business plan that reflects your plan of creating a network of successful artists.”

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

“Yes and no, it depends on the business. It is good to have your goals laid out in front of you. With most businesses, you can execute and see immediate results, however in the music industry you can execute a plan perfectly but not see results. You can email every person in a record label and not get the time of day, however, with normal businesses like real estate, you will get a response.”

What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?

“One, don’t give up or get discouraged when things to go as planned, persistence is key. Two, networking is incredibly important. Treat every single person you meet like a job interview and try to network. People are the key to success. Three, don’t do it for the money. Money is important but your art will reflect your dishonesty if you are only doing it for the cash and not for the love of the art.”


Ari Disraeli AriDisraeli(L3tro Lion)

L3ctro Lion – Dank L3ctro Entertainment

DJ / Producer – Ari Disraeli, or L3ctro Lion, is a well-known local dj in the Dallas electronic dance music community. He currently performs regularly at night clubs in Deep Ellum and Downtown Dallas. He also performed for several of SMU’s Sigma Chi fraternity boulevards.

“Did you have a business plan when you started your business?”

“No, but I wish I did. Everyone that goes to clubs knows what “dank” means. (good, best) wanted to reach towards that brand recognition. I wish had recognized and laid out a long-term business plan with the purpose of promoting brand recognition when I first started djing.”

“Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?”

“Yes, I feel like if you can have points and goals that you can meet instead of just winging it and going with the flow, it will be more organized and goal driven. When I first started djing I just wanted to play at certain large name venues, when I should have just played at smaller ones and let people recognize my name. It is about opening up for the right people and right shows in order to promote yourself, not necessarily the largest ones.”

“What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?”

“One, it is not a one-person job. Also, being friendly, outgoing, and likeable are extremely important. Opportunities revolve around people, so being able to network and having a good personality is a deal breaker. Two, know what you are talking about and be able to answer everyone’s questions. Allow no question to go unanswered and explore your industry completely. Knowledge is power and without a complete understanding of your industry, you will never dominate that industry. 3. Be passionate about your art. Without passion, anything you do will eventually become repetitive. The key to hard work is enjoying the work. If you’re working on something you don’t enjoy, eventually you will burn out.”

Andrew Bensley AndrewBensley

Raserei (artist booking & promotion company)

Andrew Bensley was the Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of Raserei. Raserei was a music production and promotion company that attempted to book ands sell shows mainly using co-founder Bronson TwoSkies as the talent. The business failed in January of 2015.

“Did you have a business plan when you started your business?

“Yes, I had a business plan going into it. Our business plan was changed drastically during the process, which led to the dismemberment of the organization. We had set goals for what we were doing; however, when certain things did not work out, we had to make some changes. These changes threw us all for a loop and caused problems and miscommunications.”

“Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?”

“Absolutely, you need to have a game plan, understand, and make conscious decisions to further the business. Learning while you, go along is mandatory, but it is important to make decisions before you start doing things. Execution on the plan is vital.”

“What three pieces of advice can you offer developing arts entrepreneurs?”

“First, stop thinking about money. I have learned up to this point that money is necessary, but you want to be happy. Very few people genuinely just enjoy making money. It is important to enjoy the work that you do. Second, trust your gut. Trust yourself more than anything or anyone else. Rationalization can only take you so far. At one point, you have to reach deep inside and say how do you feel. Third, allow things to change. Be able to take change on as it comes and be able to work with it. Know that the game plan can be moved and changed. It all comes back to loving what you do, if you wake up every morning inspired you will want to do it and make it a breeze. Fourth, above everything else, if you love it, you find a way. If I feel inside that I need to do something, I found a way. This is what allows success. Sometimes, you don’t have all the information and you just need to make a choice. If you genuinely love what you do, it helps you make the right decisions.”

Interview Analysis by Thomas Beckham

Two out of the three arts entrepreneurs that I interviewed did not have business plans when they started their businesses. However, two out of the three arts entrepreneurs would have a business plan if they started from scratch again and believed that a business plan is a key asset on the path to success. Business plans are essential because they lay out a road map for the business. No one is going to build a building without planning the process first. The same goes for a business. Building a business is like building a house. No one in their right mind would just go throw up walls and a roof at random. Before the house is built, the entire process and every possible angle is planned out to ensure that the house is built properly. For this reason, two out of the three arts entrepreneurs I interviewed believe that a business plan is essential to the success of a business. The third arts entrepreneur believes that a business plan is necessary for most industries, but that because of the unpredictable nature of networking, a business plan in the dj/producing business is somewhat redundant.

From the advice given by the arts entrepreneurs interviewed, I have extrapolated three common themes. First, never give up. All three arts entrepreneurs emphasized the importance of persistence. . Rejection and failure are commonplace in entrepreneurship, and the only way to eventually succeed is to continue to try. Second, do not do it for the money. Do not make money the focus of what you do. Money is not what will make you happy, but the work itself. The work itself has to be rewarding on it’s own so you don’t end up doing something you hate for a living. This ties in to the third theme, which is to love what you do. Being passionate about your work is what will bring long-term success and happiness. If you truly love to do something, you will continue to work hard at it until you understand every single aspect of the industry. This is what truly separates the great from the good. When one is interested and passionate about an industry, they will spend the time and enjoy learning every small detail about it. This inclination to learn leads to expertise in an industry, which leads to success.

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