Jett Monroe & 3 Entrepreneurs: Plans and Planning

The following interviews were conducted by Jett Monroe, arts entrepreneurship student at SMU. Monroe was attempting to identify if the creative entrepreneurs he interviewed believe business plans are necessary and to assess if they had one when they started. 

Meredith Baughman

Please describe an arts or creative business venture you developed.

The business I helped start is a digital educational resource. We started the business because we felt young people didn’t have a place to go for a one-stop shop for mental health organizations in their local city. We focused on people ages 16-25. A benefit to being digital education was the lack of need for a brick and mortar store. This cut down on costs and made development easier.

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

We did not have a business plan at our start. Everyone just had a bunch of ideas. It was so great because everyone had similar thoughts on what they wanted changed in the community. Unfortunately, we jumped over the essentials needed to actually develop the business.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

HAHAHAHAHAH! Yes, the business plan is your skeleton. Owners can’t articulate their business without a business plan.

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

Build a business plan first so you know your product. It is your direction. You need a network of people who support your idea. How committed are you? Because you need to be committed, otherwise it will fail.

Tim Landrum

Please describe an arts or creative business venture you developed. 

When I was in college, at Central Missouri State University, I created my first company. I was 20 and created PhotoMagic, Inc. The logo was a tripod with a magician’s hand and a wand coming out of the lens. The name and logo had a twofold meaning.  First, I was a practicing magician and secondly, I enjoyed photography. I saw a need not being filled at my college. There wasn’t a professional photography group which would take pictures at major Greek life events. So, I obtained a license which showed I was the only company which could take pictures for our campus’s Greek life, and then I hired 10 other freelancing photographers. Soon we expanded to other campuses nearby. I got to pick and choose which parties I wanted to attend, and I could get into some parties others couldn’t. My business paid for my college education and let me into some great parties.

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

No, I didn’t. I developed it as I went along. I believe I would’ve done better with a plan and a mentor to help me.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Is it necessary? I don’t believe it is. It can be very helpful, however. What I believe is necessary in entrepreneurship is a vision, a goal, and a concept.

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

My advice is do as much research as possible, figure out what makes you different, go above and beyond, build your team with the right personnel to accomplish the task, “there is no I in we or team”, and stay humble so you can surround yourself with people who are better than you at X, Y, and Z.

Bruce M. Monroe

Please describe an arts or creative business venture you developed. 

I created a company back in 1992 called Defensive Driving Videos of America. When it was created it, I had one other partner working with me. The idea was focused on giving individuals the opportunity to choose an enjoyable method of defensive driving classes. Customers could rent the defensive course VHS tape from video rental stores including Blockbuster. From there, the videotape would walk the customer through the necessary course, all while having the luxury being at home and taking the course at their own pace.

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

Yes, it was very important to understand the scope of the marketplace, potential profitability and competition.  At that time, there were approximately 1.4 million people taking defensive driving in Texas every year.  The competition was limited to the tradition boring classes and the newly approved “Comedy Defensive Driving” classes.  The price range for taking the courses was from $20 to $35.  This made the marketplace generating approximately $28 to $50 million in gross revenue per year.

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

Yes, they are very important. I believe a business plan’s most important function is to shine a light on all the reasons why something should not be done and not why it should be done.   By creating a business plan, the business owner will really understand if they should go through with the business or not.

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

There are always 3 key components to every successful business:

  1. Good Idea
  2. Enough Assets
  3. The Right People

There are millions of “good ideas”.  Enough assets typically means enough money or funding.  The right people in the right places are often the hardest to find.  If you don’t have all three elements, then the likelihood of success is very low.  Bad ideas are a given for failure.

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