These Savvies explore the topic of Business in more detail —
Even if you're going to be a one-person business (which most pro speakers are), you need to define your business — what sort of business structure will you be operating under, and what will be your business name?
Let’s tackle the business structure first. Are you (or will you be) a sole proprietorship, a ‘standard’ corporation, an ‘S’ corporation, a partnership, a Professional Association, a Limited Liability Company, or something else? (These are some of the most common business structures in the U.S.; other countries will have similar business structures, but they may differ in name or other characteristics.)
If you’re a sole proprietorship, then your personal name is also the name of your business. Or putting it another way, you are your business, so your name is your business name. For many professional speakers, this is quite acceptable... but it might not be the most effective thing for you to do.
The ‘Personnel’ section of your business plan describes your personnel assets, your human resources.... in other words, the people who make your company work. Since most speakers operate one- or two-person businesses, it can be tempting to skip this section. That would be a serious mistake.
The next section of your business plan is a description of your products and services. Products are, obviously, your books, CDs, DVDs, and other tangible resources. But “products” are also your programs, workshops, keynotes, and seminars. They are also your consulting and coaching services. In short, anything that you can sell to produce income is a “product.”
Successful speakers recognize the importance of marketing in making their speaker’s business grow and thrive. As you would expect, in this section of your business plan you describe your marketing activities in detail.
Your Financial Plans are the parts of a business plan that tend to be least considered by speakers. And that’s a shame, because your financial plan is possibly the most important section of your entire plan.
Quite simply, your budget should address two questions — First, what are your primary sources of income? And second, what are your major expenditures? The answers to these questions will help in determining the success of your business.
The previous session shows the importance of having a budget. But there are many questions that this simple budget cannot answer. For instance, how much work does it take the speaker to earn the $25,000 from giving keynote presentations? If that’s one twenty-five-thousand-dollar speech, that’s one thing; if it comes from giving fifty five-hundred-dollar speeches, that’s something else entirely.
As you've seen, a budget offers a good overview of where your business stands financially. Properly done, it contains a wealth of valuable information. But, as you’ll see now, a budget can also be horribly misleading if used alone.