Reinventing the Business Plan

I can't tell you how often I meet makers who don't have a business plan. And it's not for lack of wanting one. The typical models for most business plans seem to be better suited for someone opening up a smoothie joint or who has teams of people. Last month I met Jena Nesbitt at Schoolhouse Craft and she is all kinds of smart. Her class on The Creative Canvas was raved about and so I asked her to share a bit about it. Enjoy!

Do you have a business plan? Let us know in the comments how you made that happen.

The first time I was introduced to the concept of a one-page business plan (also known as a business model canvas), I was overcome with a feeling of dread.  

I was always coming up with great ideas, but had never made the commitment of putting them to paper, and the thought of diving into a business plan seemed daunting.

As I sat down to get started on my first business model canvas, I quickly became overwhelmed: the page was covered with business jargon and there were so many boxes to fill in. In fact, I was so freaked out, I passed the blank sheet to my teacher and asked if we could talk it through. He prompted me with questions, and as I reluctantly worked through my answers he recorded them in pencil on the canvas. After 30 minutes, we had made it through and for the first time in my life, I had actually put one of my great business ideas down on paper.

Though it started out a little rocky, my first experience with a one page business model was a good one because I had the support of an experienced entrepreneur; however, it only took a couple passes through the canvas for me to get the hang of how to use this effective tool.

Fast forward just over 6 months: I am in my studio making repurposed notebooks to give as holiday gifts for my friends and family. While working, I start thinking about how these adorable little books would be perfect to sell at local shops and online. As my imagination started to take hold, I decided to take a break from making and try fleshing out my idea on a business model canvas. While filling in the blanks on the canvas, my inspiration started to wane. I quickly realized that the tool I was using lacked the ‘creative soul’ necessary to sell my handmade product.

I shifted my focus and began reformatting the one-page tool I had used over the last 6 months. I added prompts that helped define my creative vision and adapted to a more comfortable layout. I added new sections and took away parts that didn’t apply to growing a creative business. After an evening of drafting and re-drafting, I found myself with a new tool that I decided to call “The Creative Canvas.”

I have used this tool with creative entrepreneurs from all over the United States, and learned from their input that the first step is overcoming the aversion to putting business ideas on paper. By using a business model canvas format, the path to starting a business or launching a new product is clearer. By actively using The Creative Canvas, I harnessed my ability to clarify creative inspiration and determine whether my ideas are a fun craft project or a brilliant new business opportunity.

Using a business model canvas is a vital first step as you explore the viability of your new business. Unlike the stress of drafting a traditional business plan, which feels like a document written in stone, these tools have been developed to cut right to the core of building a business and are adaptable as your idea evolves. Being successful with a one-page business model requires you to view the tool as part of your process and not a hindrance to your creative expression.

The Creative Roundtable’s “Make It Happen Workbook” includes The Creative Canvas. To download your FREE copy of the Creative Canvas, visit and join the e-mail list!

While you're at it, don't forget to connect with Jena online:


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