Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!

Leave a comment

Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #4 – Target Markets

April 1st means it is time for the fourth excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Deciding who your preferred clients are and who you want to target with your advertising and marketing efforts is very important.  By concentrating on a specific type of customer you can effectively use your available advertising budget to get results.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Four of  The Business of Face Painting.


What is Your Target Market?

As a face painter most of us at some point will narrow down our focus for marketing to concentrate on specific areas that we prefer doing for our own reasons.  A target market is the group you specifically wish to obtain work from.  In order to reach this desired group we “target” our marketing efforts towards them, therefore they are our “target markets.”

You can define your target market in many ways.  It could be a physical area – say a 50 mile radius from your home; it could be a specific type of event – say birthday parties or public festivals; or it could be specific service only – say you only want to do body painting.  How you define your own target market is completely up to you.

Here is a list of places and events where face painting could be welcome:

  • Shopping malls
  • Store grand openings
  • Birthday parties
  • Family reunions
  • Wedding receptions
  • Christenings, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs
  • Restaurants
  • Night clubs
  • Golf tournaments
  • Hockey games, football games, etc
  • Company picnics and Christmas parties
  • Easter egg hunts
  • Rodeos and fairs
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Charity events like walks, runs, relays
  • Government open houses
  • Street festivals
  • Fringe festivals and art walks
  • Art galleries
  • Book stores
  • Dance schools and competitions
  • Theatrical education programs or theatres
  • High school lock-ins and grad parties
  • Pre-school fun days
  • School sports days
  • Museums
  • Movie theatres and movie openings
  • Store children’s program activities
  • College events
  • Music festivals
  • Large multiple sports events
  • Holiday     events – New Year, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s, etc.
  • Regattas
  • Parades
  • Public outdoor concerts
  • Piers and boardwalks in tourist areas
  • Theme parks
  • Roadside attractions
  • Garage sales
  • Flea markets
  • Craft fairs and sales
  • Scrapbooking events
  • Store sales and special promotions
  • Indoor playgrounds and play centres
  • SPCA or Humane Society events
  • Trade shows, home shows, boat shows
  • Tourism activities – local tours, open houses, markets
  • Church fetes
  • Carnivals
  • Petting Zoos
  • Block parties
  • Community events – neighbourhood parties and get-togethers
  • Hospitals
  • Seniors’ facilities and care homes
  • Daycare centres

This is just what came to my mind.  Don’t take this as an exhaustive list as there are probably dozens of other places and types of events that I didn’t think of.

Whatever you choose as your target market you will need to plan on how to reach those individuals that fit in that group.  This is when you will need to do some research and perhaps get creative in your marketing approach.

You will need to consider where they live and work, what they read, what method of marketing or advertising would appeal to them.  You need to get your message and information in front of those people who could/would hire you.  For example, what type of advertising would reach your target markets?  To determine this may involve some research and possibly some expense on your part to develop material or advertising.  There is a considerable amount you can do for little or no cost, but there is a point where you may need to be prepared to spend to reach out to your desired customers, and that will vary depending on your targets.

Once you decide on your target, let’s say for illustration purposes that we want to reach large-scale public events such as fairs, rodeos and festivals, you need to determine who you need to get your information to and how to actually do that.

The first step is to make a list of the events you want to contact and who organizes them.  There are a few ways that you can do this: watch the newspaper and local publications for advertisements for events that suit your target market and make a note of them – location, organizing group, contact telephone numbers; check local community listings for upcoming events; look up event listings from local venues such as fairgrounds and arenas; check directories from local groups as often annual events and planning committees may be listed; check the local tourism offices for annual events; check with local volunteer bureaus for volunteer planning committees; contact charities that benefit from large events locally to get contact names and information; look up organizations in the yellow pages; churches and schools often hold fairs and events for fundraising purposes.  These are just some suggestions as there are many ways to obtain information.  Once you have a list of events use the yellow pages and online directories to fill in all the information that might be missing from your list such as mailing addresses and phone numbers.

Once you have created a list of potential clients in your chosen target area you then have to determine how you are going to make contact.  There are several ways you can do this from cold calling to a direct mail campaign.  Consider a few things to start with:

1.         How much do you want to spend on this?

I like to keep my expenses low but am willing to spend a certain amount each year on good quality marketing materials such as professionally printed full colour brochures, postcards and business cards.  I also consider postage as a normal business cost.

2.         What is your comfort level?

Personally, I loathe cold calling and it doesn’t matter to me if it is by telephone or in person for charity or personal business.  I just detest doing it and won’t do it!  But many people don’t mind doing it and can do it very successfully.  Technically cold calling is considered sales, not marketing, but when you are a one person business operation you do it all.

3.         How much time do you have to spend on this?

I like to get my big marketing projects done in one session, so spending an afternoon or evening getting a mail-out done is my preference.

4.         What contact information do you have?

i.e. an actual person’s name or just a post office box?

In many cases the only contact information available to me is an association name and post office box.  Committee members change year to year so the contact names are often out-of-date.  Get as much information as you can, but don’t let not having a name stop you from sending your material out.

5.         Is there an advertising media that the majority of your target markets would see?

i.e. the local Chamber of Commerce newsletter?

We don’t have local methods of advertising that would reach all the groups on my list so I have chosen not to spend money on advertisements locally.  In some areas there are parenting magazines that could prove useful to target the birthday party market as an example.

Given all the above I chose to do a direct mail campaign with a letter, a brochure and some business cards to all the groups I had on my list that I had mailing information for.  The first year that I did this I mailed out to 37 separate groups and companies – from that I received 11 inquiries, and 7 confirmed bookings (one of them for multiple dates.)  The second year I sent out 30 packages and got 11 bookings confirmed.  I add a few new names to the list every year and drop some unproductive ones.  A couple of years ago I switched to using postcards rather than the letters and it has proven to be just as, if not more, effective.

Something to remember too is that your target markets can change year to year.  You do not have to stick with something if it isn’t working or if you decide you want a change for whatever reason.

There are many ways to attempt to make contact with your target markets.  You can use any one or combination of methods – it’s just a matter of time and money and how much you want to spend of either:

  • direct mail with an addressed letter to the contact person
  • direct mail with form letter – not personally addressed
  • direct mail postcard only
  • cold call telephone
  • cold call in person to introduce yourself and give brochure
  • direct mail with a follow-up telephone call.
  • advertising in local publications and newsletters, i.e. Chamber of Commerce, tourism board, volunteer services bureau, Rotary Club, school districts, etc.
  • Yellow Pages and other local directory listings free and otherwise.
  • Internet listings, free and otherwise
  • Joining local business groups to network with potential customers, i.e. Chamber of Commerce, tourism board, volunteer groups
  • Advertising in local entertainment publications, newspapers, parenting magazines, etc.
  • Using your postal service household unaddressed mail delivery service
  • Posting notices/posters on community bulletin boards in stores, clubs, malls.
  • Networking with other face painters for referrals.

You should be able to make contact with your specific target markets with a bit of research, some work and minor expenses for postage and marketing materials.

The level of success will vary depending on your area’s economic prosperity and the amount and level of competition there is, but it is well worth the effort in increasing your business and raising your name recognition.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008


Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #3 – Daily Operations

March 1st means it is time for the third excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Using the telephone effectively is a huge part of your business.  You have to collect information and provide information efficiently and clearly. The telephone is one of the most useful tools you will have.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Five of  The Business of Face Painting.



Answering the telephone is a huge part of our efforts to secure work.  When a potential client calls us we need to know exactly what we have to say to get the booking from them.  There are questions to ask and information to provide in order to get to the close of the deal which is a confirmed date and rate.

Some people, as we all know, are just shopping around to find out prices or looking for the cheapest.  Others are calling as they got your number from a friend or have your card that they picked up at an event and want to inquire about a specific function.  Some are agents or possible corporate bookings wanting to get specifics for possible future events.   You need to be ready to answer the questions these people will all be asking and also do a sales pitch to make yourself the most attractive option.

The best tool for dealing with telephone inquiries is an Inquiry Form that you keep handy to the telephone.  A sample form is included with the document templates at the end of the chapter. On this form you have all the questions you need to ask with spaces to write the answers and you can include points that you should bring up for your sales pitch.  So what are the things you should be asking the potential client?

The first thing is, of course, to answer your telephone professionally.  This is easy if you have a dedicated line for your business and can answer the telephone by saying “Annie’s Funny Faces this is Annie.”  If you are using your home telephone then make sure that everyone who answers the telephone knows how to answer with a smile, how to take messages, knows how to tell people nicely that you will call them back and when that will be.  If you have only adults or older teens answering the phone you can attempt to train them to use the form to get as much information as they can and then tell the caller that you will call them back as soon as possible.

Get the caller’s name and telephone numbers right away… then use their name during the rest of the conversation.  This is something that successful sales people do – ask you your name and then use it repeatedly while trying to sell you that BMW! It is a successful technique and really easy to do.  By using their name you are forming a connection with them and most people will respond positively.

It is really useful to keep track of all calls and inquiries you receive by phone and email.  Even if they do not result in a booking you will be able to assess the success of any marketing or advertising you are doing.  Ask everyone where they got your information or heard of you.  You could list all the options on your form and simply circle or tick the method off.

Most people will have stated right off the top what services they are calling about, so mark that off on your form to refer back to.  A tick list is a simple way to do that as it is very quick to do.  If they have not mentioned what they want right away ask them what services they are interested in.

Find out the date they are inquiring about, the time, the location.  You do not need to confirm your availability at this stage – go through the whole form and get all the information before you “check your calendar”.  You want to take the opportunity to sell yourself and your services so do not cut the conversation short by saying you are not available as the person on the other end of the phone will then not want to continue the conversation.  They have called you so take advantage of this opportunity to tell them about your services.

Ask about the type of event, number of people expected, venue, and the other questions.  If it is a birthday party, ask the name of the birthday person, their age, favourite things and colours – this is useful if you want to take along a birthday card or provide a little something extra for the birthday child.  If it is a private party or a public event is very important too as you can determine your set-up requirements and explain them at that stage of the conversation.

So by now you should know their name, phone number, the type of event, the place, the time, how many are expected, the type of service they want and you should have been able to work in your requirements about space and set-up.

Now is the time for you to do your spiel and provide them with your information.  Explain your business services related to their inquiry.  You could say “I provide professional face painting services offering full face designs.  I follow a strict code of conduct using a clean sponge per child and do not paint anyone who appears to be sick… etc.”  Phrase this statement to suit your business.  This opening statement can be pretty standard and if it helps you to say it write it out on your form so that you remember it and say it in the same way every time but be flexible enough to adapt to the event that they are calling about.  Having a prepared “script” is perfectly acceptable.

Explain your rate structure.  Many have a bit of difficulty with this so my suggestion is to prepare a Rate Sheet to refer to and keep that handy.  I have one that is four pages long that covers every service I provide and options such as a day-rate, etc.  I don’t publish or distribute it just use it to keep myself consistent.  A sample rate sheet is provided in the document templates in Chapter Two.  If you are prone to discounting your rate make up a chart to refer to so you can remember your terms for qualifying for a discount.

Explain your terms.  A contract will be sent to them by mail to return with a deposit or emailed deposit paid by PayPal, etc.  Whatever your terms are such as a seven-day hold pending receipt of deposit or that you do not paint children under the age of three; basically anything that is important for them to know before they confirm the booking.

The last thing is to get their mailing address.  If they are booking you it is for mailing out the contract, if they didn’t, it will be so you can mail them some information about your services.

Keep a smile in your voice even if they decide not to make a booking and, if they say it is because they are actually looking for something else refer them to someone and ask them to say you gave them their name.  It never hurts to help out others in the business as referrals work both ways.

There are different ways to set-up a form to use – you can make them small like telephone message pads or full-sized hole punched to go in a binder.  Figure out what will work best for you.  If you use your mobile phone more than a landline, keep a supply of forms with you in your car or kit so that you have them with you when you have answer the cell phone.

All inquiry forms should be kept, even for the calls that don’t end in a booking, as you can use the information you have collected to assess things like the success of advertising or marketing activities, etc.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008

Leave a comment

Tax time

Tax season is upon us.  The deadline for RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) contributions is next Thursday (March 1st) and I need to make one or else I’ll have to pay more tax!

Our accountant already worked on our taxes so I know I have to contribute $1600 minimum to have to pay zero tax, but more will get me a refund!  I want a refund!

It is great to be making enough that I owe tax on my self-employment earnings, sort of, but I really prefer to keep my money in my account.

Mom gets everything back – she received approval for the Disability Tax Credit so she appears to get back all the tax deducted from her pensions.

Last year I procrastinated horribly about getting my bookkeeping done and to our accountant.  This year I was on top of it and got the books all caught up over Christmas, then just had to wait for my January statements to reconcile… then my laser printer died and I couldn’t print my reports!!!  My bookkeeping computer is pre-internet and I had no way to get the files off it.  I tried to save my Quicken reports as Lotus files on a CD but the versions are so old the files wouldn’t convert.

I ended up taking photos of the monitor screen, then cutting and pasting the shots to gether to get reports I could print as jpegs.  Time consuming…

Now I have to upgrade my bookkeeping software to something from this decade so I can start 2012 fresh on a new program.


Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #2 – Marketing Your Services

Here is the second excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting.  I’ll be posting one a month for all of 2012.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Marketing is a key part of having a successful business.  I try to concentrate on my marketing efforts at the slower times of the year which for me are usually January and September, and keep on top of things throughout the year taking advantage of opportunities that arise.  In my book I cover in detail the specifics of what I do to market my services and the tools that I use.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Four of  The Business of Face Painting.


What is Marketing?

Marketing is the process of attracting the interest of potential customers in your face painting services.

The important word in this definition is “process” as marketing is a continual process involving research, promotion, sales and distribution of your services.  To put it simply, marketing involves everything you do to get potential customers together with the service you are offering.  What you do to accomplish this can change over time and with your interests.

Creating a marketing plan for your face painting business is part of the business planning process (there is that word again – it is a continual process!)  To keep it relatively straightforward when you are starting out just concentrate on the basics:

  • products and/or services
  • promotion
  • distribution
  • pricing

The goal of any marketing plan is to get and keep a growing list of satisfied customers. Creating and implementing a marketing plan, no matter how simple, will help you to keep your efforts focused on your end goals and increase your potential for success.

In Chapter Three the marketing plan was briefly noted as part of the business planning process.  As it is so essential to the success of your new business endeavours I will spend this chapter going over the key marketing ideas  that I have learned are the most important to face painters.  I will also explain the tools and techniques that I have personally found to be most successful.

Your Marketing Plan

Take some time to write out your answers to the questions and any ideas you have – this does not have to be a narrative, just list in point form all the things that come to mind.  I’ve made a template you can use to do this exercise and it is at the end of the chapter. Once you have made your notes you can summarize them and include it in your business plan.


Your product is your face painting services (or whatever services or products you choose to provide.)  The key things you need to determine are: What are the features of your services?  Describe your services.  How do they differ from the competition’s services?  What are your unique selling points – this means, what makes your services different or better?  How will your services benefit your customers?  What is the message that you want to communicate to your potential customers about your services?


How are you going to let your potential customers know about your face painting services?  You will need to know who your target market is by determining who your potential customers are – I will cover this in detail further on. List all the ideas you have to promote and advertise your services and the options that are available to you in your area.  This is everything from business cards, brochures, flyers, posters, direct mail, website, yellow pages, advertising, coupons, demonstrations, give-away items, email campaigns, directory listings, teaching a class, writing an article, getting in the paper, etc.  List everything you can think of and then narrow it down to those that are either easy and/or free or within your budget.


In our business distribution consists of us attending the client’s location and delivering our services.  You can be specific on your methods of transportation, necessary equipment such as a booth and furniture.  Are there costs associated with delivery to the customer?  This area also covers billing and payment for services provided.  What are the terms and methods of payment?  Do you offer credit?  Do you provide any warranties or guarantees?  Is there a system for customer feedback?


Setting your price was covered in detail in Chapter Two – Money Matters.  You can charge anything you want but you need to be competitive and make a reasonable profit.  Customers will not spend more than they have to and if you charge too much for your market area you will lose them to the competition.  Use the Excel spreadsheet provided in Chapter Two to calculate your costs and help you to set a fair and reasonable rate for your services.

Once you have covered these four points include the information in your business plan or if you chose not to prepare a business plan, then put this together as a marketing plan.

Take all of the items you consider important and prioritize them, research the costs of those items you wish to use so you can budget accordingly, set a schedule for taking action and then check them off as you complete them.

Writing this all down will help you to stay on track and to monitor the success of your plan.

The rest of this chapter will address the specifics of marketing in the face painting industry based on my experience and what I find to be the most successful.  Market areas can be very different so what worked excellently for me might not necessarily work as well in your area, or, something I found not worthwhile may prove to be your most successful tool!  So do not be afraid to try out something to see if it will work for you.

Creating a Brand or Corporate Image

When you begin to market yourself you are creating a brand.  You are creating a recognizable entity, a company, a service, that people will recognize as being professional, valuable, worth paying for and they will be willing to pass your name along to their friends and family.

When setting up yourself and your business, creating a brand is something that you probably didn’t think about.  But just by producing some business cards you have started the process.

We are in a visual industry and what we do is represented by visual images – be it the child getting out of our chair with their face painted, or photos of our work in our portfolio, or our clothes and working set-up – it’s all visual.  So do you not think our marketing should be visual as well?

Think about it… what are you marketing?  Your artistic services.  What is the best way to let people know what you do?  Show them.

I know that for a lot of people starting out that the cost of full-colour marketing materials might seem to be more than you can afford but… can you afford to miss out on the work that better marketing materials will generate?

Everyone should take time to consider their business image before getting that first batch of business cards made.  I know it is just a business card to get your phone number out there… but it is also an advertisement that people will have in their possession and possibly pass along to other people, thereby creating an image of your business.

If you are just starting out, or even if you are established in the industry, take a look at your marketing materials.  Lay them all out at look at them… your business card, flyers, brochures, signs, displays, letterhead, posters, resumes, portfolios, business proposals, and your website too.  Now, is there a “look” to your materials that sets them apart from another artist’s?  Can you see a brand – meaning, is there a look to your materials that carries over from one to the other so that people can tell from a glance that it is from you?  Do you have a slogan or tag line that appears on all your material that is associated with you?  Do you use the same font on all your print material?  Do you use the same colour paper?  Do you have one image – a logo or photograph – that you use on all you material that is identified with you?  Do you have a common design element in your materials, for example a black background with yellow print?

It may seem trivial but image counts in this industry as in any other; perhaps even more so.  Taking the time when you are first starting out really can make a lot of difference later on.  It is not hard, but you need to think about what the image is that you want to present and if that will cover all your endeavours if you choose to expand your business offerings at a future date.

Take some time to brainstorm ideas… where do you want to go with your business?  Is your market going to be strictly face painting or only body painting, or both?  Are you offering other make-up services?  Do you do other forms of entertainment, balloons, hair, nails, etc.?  Do you plan to, or even think there is a possibility that you might expand your services in the future?

Do you have a name for your business that identifies what it is that you do?  Does the name you use have a good connotation?  You have to decide on whether you want to name your business, if so you’ll need to find out whether you can register or copyright it if you decide to go that route.  Do some research to make sure that you aren’t using a name that is already in use, particularly in your area, even if it is in another industry. You could decide to just use your own name (which I have done.)  It is all totally up to you.  But pick something that you will be happy with long term as once you’ve started the process of building your brand and reputation connected to that name, you may be stuck with it.

Get some good photos of what you do – really good photos.  You don’t need a professional photographer but take some care when taking the photo, use a background that will be suitable for your print material design (my background is black on my print materials so I take all my photos against a black backdrop,) make sure it is in focus, clear and of a good subject.  If you do different things have photos of samples of all of them.  Then you need to examine them all… get family and friends, co-workers and fellow artists to help you.  Narrow down which photo you think really illustrates who you are and what you and your business do.  If you do many things then arrange to take a group photo showing everything or maybe create a collage; whatever you decide to do, be sure to pick a fantastic image that you will be happy with for a long time so you won’t have to redo your materials very often.

Or you could choose to go with a graphic logo to identify with your brand and image.  This decision is all yours.  But pick something that you can live with as you should not be changing it every year.

Once you’ve decided on what visual image you will be using on your materials then you need to produce those materials.  When I first started I printed off my own business cards on my computer using photographic business card paper that is available at office supply stores.  They seemed to be less costly than having colour cards printed.  But when you consider the cost of ink/toner and the special paper they really weren’t.  I give out cards like candy and having to re-print almost weekly was costing me a fortune in toner.  So I went to a printer and had a full-colour business card produced and it cost me much less than doing it at home.  The card is full-colour on one side and black print on the other.  The printer’s designer helped fine tune my design and I am very happy with it and have carried the design over to my other marketing materials such as postcards, brochures, and use a modified version on my letterhead and display materials.

Once you’ve got your business card printed you have started your branding process.  From this point on you will be recognized based on this image and that of your business practices and talent.  It all ties together.  But the printed material will be what most people will see and remember as they will have it in their possession long after the make-up is washed away.  By using a visual image you are reinforcing to anyone looking at that business card that you are an artist, that you are a professional and that you do great work.  You are establishing your brand in the market place and setting yourself apart from the rest which makes you more memorable and therefore more marketable, which leads to more work and business success.

So take that extra time to decide what you want people to think when they hear your name or see your business card and it will pay off for you in the long term.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008


Business Tips for Face Painters, Body Artists and Make-Up Artists #1 – The Business Plan

In 2012 I will be posting excerpts from my e-book The Business of Face Painting once a month.  Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.

The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.

Since this is a start of a new year I thought it would be appropriate to discuss The Business Plan.  I just updated mine again and it is a great tool for focussing on the coming year’s goals.  I update my plan every three to five years and review it annually – if there have been big changes over the current year I will update, if things are ticking along as anticipated I just review.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter Three of  The Business of Face Painting.


If you are starting a business, no matter how small-scale, you need to have a plan.  Obviously, planning to start a business is a plan but formalizing it into a document is a very important step and the process will cause you to think about all the aspects and risks of starting your own business.

Writing a business plan sounds daunting to many people but it is not.  The process of writing it and pulling all the information together can really help you to gain an understanding of your business and what is needed to make it the success that it is meant to be.  Being a professional face painter is really no different, from a business point of view, than being a plumber.

There are many tools available to assist you with drafting your first business plan: on the internet, from your bank or financial service advisor, from your local small business association or Chamber of Commerce.  I have provided a template at the end of this chapter which is the one that I used for my business plan and this was loosely based on one in a booklet from the bank I was dealing with at the time.  Once you take the time and effort to do it the first time all you have to do is periodically review and update it to reflect your current business operations and goals.

The business plan is just that – a plan.  It is not written in stone, in fact, it is meant to be updated and changed regularly to keep up with your business and your changing goals.  In many cases businesses write-up a business plan in order to use it to support loan applications and other requests for funding. But, I think that it is a tool that anyone starting a business should take the time to use.

A full business plan covers all areas of a business’ operation – industry analysis, opportunities for work, competition, description of your business, services, target markets, staff, equipment, contingency planning, risk assessment, business goals, marketing plan, sales forecasts, operations, inventory control and management set-up.

Many people start face painting without a real intention of it becoming a fully fledged business, then gradually they start to get paid for doing it, and then realize that they are in business without actually planning to be.  Once you are in business there are lots of things that you need to be aware of and by following the template for a business plan you will cover all the areas that someone starting or assessing their current business needs to consider.

There are different styles of business plans so if you don’t like the template I have included look around to find one that suits you… some are shorter, some are longer… it is all a matter of how much depth you want to get into.

I will go through the template point by point and provide some suggestions as to what sort of information fits with the headings.

–  Description of Industry:   Describe the services available like face painting, body painting, glitter tattoos, etc. the demand locally for the services, where you can sell the services, potential for growth, etc.  Then describe the competition in your area – do some research to find out exactly what there is in your area.  This information is for your eyes only so please be honest and accurate.  Economic factors are things like  recessions or booms – how much money do the locals have to spend?  If you are in a factory town and the plant shuts down then your economy will be slow as people won’t have extra money for face painting.  Social factors are things like religious prohibitions against face painting or lots of demand for henna tattoos for cultural reasons.  Technology and environmental factors are things like new equipment like airbrushes and environmental might be allergens or disposal of solvents.

– Description of Business Venture:  Well, what IS your business?  Describe your business in a short paragraph or in point form.  Define your target market (this is covered in detail in Chapter Four.)  Explain your competitive advantage – why will people hire you over the competition. Describe you location and set-up, staff, equipment and supplies, and  a history of the business or your experience in it.

– Business Goals:  Where do you want to be after one year?  Two years?  Five years?  This can be a simple statement or a detailed breakdown year by year.  You can be as detailed as you want – I like detail as it is easier to breakdown into parts and projects that can be completed or scrapped depending on the market.

– Marketing Plan:  How do you plan to sell your service?  List every method you can think of and how you will do it.  That is everything from giving out business cards to buying advertising to direct mail to networking with soccer moms.  Distribution is how are you delivering the services and where, how far will you travel to do so?  Your pricing, promotional plans, any guarantee or warranties (these are mostly those of products,  our services don’t lend themselves to guarantees of any sort other than showing up and doing the work.)  How do you plan to track customers and results of marketing?  Methods of payment – how do you intend to collect your deposits and fees, terms for corporate customers, etc.  The marketing plan will be covered in a lot more depth in Chapter Four.

– Sales Forecast:  This is where you get to make assumptions and predictions.  State the assumptions that you are basing your forecasts on like “The first assumption is that more work will be offered as more work is completed from recommendations, word of mouth, repeat customers, etc.”  The current version of my business plan only has four assumptions.  You can forecast your bookings month-by-month for the current year – confirmed bookings and anticipated bookings from repeat customers, etc.  And   then forecast for the future based on your assumptions.

– Operations:  This is how you supply your business with the material need to conduct business. Where will you get your supplies, terms with vendors, alternative sources for emergencies, and how you will control your inventory of products and equipment?  Where do you store your equipment?

– Management and Structure:   How is your business set-up – are you a registered company or a sole proprietorship?  What is your legal and tax status?  Who are your key personnel?

– Risk Assessment:  What is your competitors’ reaction to your business? Are you friendly and refer work to each other or are they undercutting you?  This is just a statement of fact you don’t have to solve the problems here. List “What ifs…” for external and internal factors.  What if… you spill paint on a customer’s white rug?  What if… your wrist develops carpel tunnel syndrome? Explain how you plan to deal with the risks – insurance, taking care to avoid situations that could cause injury, etc.

– Environmental Statement: Explain how you are meeting environmental regulations, recycle containers, etc.  State any training taken like WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System.)

– Action Plan:  The steps to be taken to meet the goals of the Marketing Plan and how the results will be measured – usually would be increased bookings, increased income, etc.

– The Financial Plan is simply statements and numbers.  Attach your financial statements and accounting information if you want to. Forecast your income for the coming year, two years and/or five years.  Remember that this is just a plan and you can change it depending on what actually happens.  Try to assess realistically where you want to be and what you can expect to achieve.

Don’t panic!  It sounds like a lot of areas to cover but once you start to make your notes you will realize that a lot of the information will apply to different areas of the business plan.  I am not saying that it is a quick and easy exercise, but, by taking the time and doing a bit of research to fill in the information in the template you will be giving yourself a fantastic aid to develop a successful business.

It is not a project that you will complete all at once so do not be discouraged if it takes you a few weeks or even months to actually draft the entire document.  But be assured that once you have completed it you will have a firm grasp of the business you are in and be able to go back to it annually to see if you are on track and to make adjustments.  Not to scare you but my current business plan is twenty pages long without the attachments – but all I do now is review it and update where necessary and do a major update every five years.

I updated my five-year plan for the third time a couple of years back and it was really interesting to read over my goals and plans from five and ten years previous… I was a bit surprised with how things had altered and progressed as reading over what I put down on paper for my business goals has changed so much.  It really is an excellent way to keep track of your goals and how they change with time.  Growth will cause changes to your plans, as well as changing interests that you have.

Another benefit to creating and keeping an up-to-date business plan is that it can help you to prove your business intent if you are ever audited.  My accountant highly recommended that I do one when I was first starting out in the make-up industry for this reason.

© Shannon Fennell, 2009

with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007

and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008