If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail.
While the formula for success may be different for each company, there are some basic business rules that cut across industry lines. All companies, including those in creative business, need to abide by these rules if they are to have a real chance at success. If you are an artist, planning on starting an illustration agency or have already found one, here are some business basics which you will find useful.
Before putting together, the business plan, it is paramount that a company has a clear vision; unless you are clear about where your goals lie, you are bound to get distracted by the peripherals. What is your goal as an illustration agency? Do you want to be the top children’s book illustrator in the business? Do you want your turnover to be a million dollars in a year’s time? Do you want to hire and build up the dream team of the best illustrators in the business? Identify and articulate the long-term goals as precisely as possible. The more complete and detailed the vision, the better the chances of your business plan and other operational matters falling into place thereafter.
Jack Welch, one of the most celebrated CEOs worlds, believes that “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” So, well begun is half done!
Once you have decided where your illustration agency is headed, the next step would be to decide how to get there and this is where the business plan comes into play. This is the blueprint for the success of a business. Illustration business is neither exclusively a service business nor a business that only provides products. An illustration agency needs to work on a business model which includes the best of both types of businesses. Keeping this in mind, a solid business plan should include marketing plans, personnel and resource requirements (a very important component is how many illustrators you need to hire), production costs and revenue projections. A business plan helps an illustration agency to take appropriate decisions to achieve company vision.
If for example, the company vision is to make a dent as a children’s book illustrator, then the business plan should be to hire the best children’s book illustrators, to market the company strongly in that sector and direct all decisions keeping this vision in mind.
Eventually, this is the most important factor in building an illustration business and sustaining it. In order to establish a strong and steady revenue flow, illustrators need to retain a loyal base of regular customers and win new clients. Every customer who walks through the door of the agency must feel that its creative content is definitely value for money. Only a trusted illustration company which constantly performs above and beyond customer expectation can do this. A successful illustration company is able to walk the fine line between keeping the customer happy and maintaining the integrity of the illustrations.
An Illustration agency must be adaptable and innovative simply because the illustration industry is such a diverse and fluid industry. The world of illustration is constantly evolving and the challenge that every company faces is to find a distinctive style within this flux. This is the benchmark for an illustration company that truly wants to stand apart from the crowd and build itself up as a trusted and recognized brand.
To quote J W Marriott, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.”
A business is only as successful as its employees; this is especially true of a creative agency. And illustration companies, which rely on the creativity and talent of their illustrators to get ahead of their competitors, need to foster a positive work environment that will boost productivity. So, hire the best illustrators in the market and give them the encouragement and direction they need to produce their best work. A company with satisfied employees has a better chance of being successful.
If all the operational processes are in place, it is effective marketing and promotion that will lead an illustration agency to success. A well-run illustration agency creates success by honing its marketing and promotional skills to a fine art. Keeping the company vision at the heart of all decisions, the agency constantly seeks to expand its customer base not just by creating awareness among potential customers but also by offering new products and services to existing customers.
For long-term success, an illustration agency needs to build a solid reputation and an instant brand recall. This can only happen by the active participation of all stakeholders, effective business strategy, quality products and services and excellent marketing plans.