Jennifer Mott and the 3 Creative Entrepreneurs

Are business plans necessary? Jennifer Mott, SMU Arts Entrepreneurship student, attempts to find out.

Renee Rhyner

Renee Rhyner and Co.

Commercial Art Representation Company

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

à “No, I didn’t have a business plan and I didn’t know what one was. I didn’t even know that was something I should have. I just did it. I went straight from the modeling agency representing models to representing photographers. I knew I would have no payments coming in until I got the artists jobs.”

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

“I think a good idea is necessary and the ability to understand how long you’re gonna have to go without making any money. Before I started my business, I took a whole year before that to pay off debt and save up money because I knew I wasn’t going to be making my own money for a while. So, I had my own business plan it just wasn’t a formal written business plan. I knew to prepare for not making money for about 3-5 months.”

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

“Understand the climate of the business you are going into. Understand how difficult it is to be an artist in today’s economy. Pay off your debts and get your finances in order. Understand that you will probably have to wait a long time before you start making any money, and even when you do start making any money, it’s not going to afford you a great lifestyle until several years down the road.”

Rob Wilson

Rob Wilson Designs and Illustrations

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

“I did not. There was a plan but it was not a business plan. What my plan has been has been successful. It would have probably been good to have a business plan, but when I was first starting I was doing so many different things, it was really hard to plan on where my income would be coming from. I originally started with a greeting card company of my own, went to New York, and sold in stores but I realized for a while that is not what I wanted to pursue and I ended up changing directions.”

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

No, but I think it is a good thing to do. The greeting card line, the animation, the branding, the editorial illustrations, the prints, and the gallery work kind of brining that all under one business plan is probably what I will do. It was a planned organic growth.”

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

“Be aware of your abilities and your limitations. Be willing to work very hard and potentially go outside your comfort zones to achieve the goals you set up. Network, network, network. More than anything I would say that is the most valuable thing I have done. Third, I would say be willing to try new things and not automatically say no when someone asks you to do something you may not know how to do. It pushes you and your boundaries and keeps you more creatively invested in your work. “

Marsais Urban

Fine Art & Editorial Photography

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

“I wish I could say I had a detailed business plan, but I didn’t. I knew at the time what I wanted to do but a lot of what I ended up doing ultimately became based on trial and error. The more I photographed things I didn’t enjoy, the more I found myself steering other directions instead. I made some poor decisions along the way, spent money I shouldn’t have and pursued things I wish I didn’t waste my time on, but hindsight is 20/20 and ultimately, those mistakes were also learning lessons and shaped me into who I am in my business today.”

Do you think business plans are necessary for entrepreneurship?

While I don’t think business, plans are necessarily imperative in business, I will say, I think having a well-executed plan can save someone a tremendous amount and keep a vision for a business when you might have lost your way. So many businesses fail within the first couple years and I think it really comes down to a lack of planning and executing. You pour your heart and soul into your business, so why not start on the right path and save yourself potential loss of time, money and mental insanity!

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

My three pieces of advice are: Create a business plan for what you want to do.

Hire when needed. I think this is one of the hardest things for artistic entrepreneurs to grasp because we want full control and also, don’t want to spend the money hiring someone who can help us. Lastly, I’d say have FUN with what you are doing. Let your creativity lead and when you are feeling a little burnout, create things just for you. If you are an artist, create work that doesn’t need to be seen by anyone, or that inspires and challenges you.

Interview Analysis

There were several common themes that I found amongst all of the interviews. Not one of my interviewees had a business plan when they started out. They all simply lead with their creative minds to produce their dream business.  They all started out with very little money and a vision that with lots of hard work and dedication turned into a reality. Another theme I captured throughout my interviews was to save money before you venture out to produce your work. This was stressed greatly in Renee Rhyner’s interview who expressed that paying off debt and saving money before you even start is incredibly important if you want to last. Marsais Urban also touched on the money topic saying she “spent money on things she shouldn’t have.” I think as a young entrepreneur it is important to be aware and mature of your financial limitations. To not spend money because you have it. To only use it if it can be beneficial to your business. The last most reoccurring theme I came across is to create. To have fun and go out and do what you love. To network as much as you can and broaden your social surroundings with people who could potentially help your business and vision. To not be afraid if you feel that you are not qualified for a specific job and to step out of your comfort zone. That is the most important aspect of being a creative- to not be afraid and just create. That message was the biggest take away that I got from all three of these interviews. It was really nice to sit and listen to Renee, Rob, and Marsais talk with me about their passions and their work. It gave me confidence that that could be me one day giving another young creative entrepreneur the same advice. I think creatives have different minds from the rest of the world- we get one another. And it was so great to be able to connect and hear out creative entrepreneurs who did exactly what I want to do. This project was very fulfilling and inspiring. I greatly enjoyed

Jennifer Mott is a student in the Arts Entrepreneurship program at Southern Methodist University, Meadows School of the Arts. 

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