We were going to do a post today on whether you need a business plan, but then we came across this great story by Tom Fishburne, who calls himself a “marketoonist.” Although Tom’s story is about how he came to be a cartoonist, it’s also about entrepreneurship and what it takes to start a new business. We think you’ll like it.
Our take-aways from the article:
1. Decide what you want—then do it.
Too many people are afraid to do the things they want to do. They think they don’t have the right eduction. Or they have a mortgage that needs to be paid. Or they don’t have the support they need. There are a million reasons not to start your “next big thing.” Excuses. All of them.
2. Come up with a plan.
It’s not easy to leave the comfort of a 9-5 job with a steady paycheck and benefits. It’s not easy to start a new business (or to even come up with an idea for a new business). Not ready? Start planning now. What can you do? How much do you need to earn to make it work? What resources do you have to work with? What is your timeline? Then get ready.
3. Being the best is good. Being the only is better.
Jerry Garcia once said, “you do not want to be considered the best of the best. You want to be the only one who does what you do.” There are thousands of struggling cartoonists in the world (many who cartoon about business), but only one successful “marketoonist”. How can you think about your business in a way where you’re not just one of the best, but you’re the only one who does what you do?
4. Create value for your customers.
This should be basic business intelligence, but too many small business people overlook it. What do you do for your customers that they can’t do for themselves? What do you do that your competition isn’t doing? How can you add value to your existing customer relationships?
5. Think about your role and price yourself accordingly.
Tom talks about how he went from pricing his cartoons as an “illustrator” to pricing them as a “branding consultant”. There’s a big difference. An illustrator (at least in this example) draws the cartoons he is assigned. A brand consultant works with the client to create and tell a compelling story with an illustration. Both offer value, but one offers a whole lore more value. And can charge more for it too. As Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor for the New Yorker says, “It’s not the ink, it’s the think.”
6. Do hard things (and make a living).
Being a cartoonist is no different than being an entrepreneur (the reason we linked to the article in the first place). It’s so much hard work. Every day you face down challenges that most people can’t even dream of. There are days you wake up screaming, or sweating, or scared. And yet, each new success is rewarding in ways most people will never experience.
If you have the dream of working for yourself, stop waiting and make it happen. And when you succeed, come back and tell us about it.