Do You Need an OGSM? How to Make an Art or Photography Business Plan

Making an Art or Photography Business Plan

strategic plan

Making your strategic plan doesn’t have to be this complicated!

January is almost over, but it’s not too late to make a 2014 art or photography business plan. “Do You Need an OGSM?” by artist and business mentor Linda Fisler will help you do just that. An OGSM (short for objectives, goals, strategies and measurements) may sound alarmingly like business jargon, but never fear—Fisler will walk you through the simple steps to creating a straightforward plan for your art, design or photography business. You can read an excerpt from the strategic planning article below, or read the entire article for artists and designers here and for photographers here.

Keep reading and good luck!


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Do You Need an OGSM? Use Strategic Planning to Boost Your Creative Career by Linda Fisler

Brought from Japan to corporate America in the 1950s, the OGSM concept was used initially by car manufacturers. Today large corporations, including Fortune 500 companies, employ this framework to keep their workforces centered on goals and objectives. Ideally this tool can express in a one-page document what a traditional business plan takes 50 pages to explain. The initials in OGSM stand for objective, goals, strategies and measurements. So in what way can this concept be applied to an artist’s business or artwork? Let’s walk through the process of creating a sample OGSM and see.

You can compose an OGSM in any word-processing application, such as Microsoft Word, that allows for inserting a table. Or you can use spreadsheet software, such as Excel, to create an OGSM. If you aren’t computer savvy, simply handwrite the plan on a sheet of paper. Whatever format you choose, you’ll need four columns, labeled “Objective,” “Goals,” “Strategies” and “Measurements” respectively.

Identifying an objective

The first step is to identify an objective. Think of it as your mission—what you’re going to focus on and work to accomplish within a year’s time. The objective should be both broad and detailed enough that it encompasses all facets of your plan. An example might be: “My objective is to become a recognized and respected artist, with an increase in the number of my collectors and followers, which should increase my income.”

. . . .

Setting goals

With an objective firmly stated, you can move on to setting goals. This step in the process breaks down the objective into tangible benchmarks you’ll work to achieve over the year. The trial objective states that you want to increase your collectors and followers by 25 percent. One of your goals may be to grow your mailing list by 15 percent. Another goal may be to increase the number of your friends and followers at Twitter and Facebook by 10 percent.

. . . .

Developing strategies

With your objective and goals established, it’s time to list your strategies for attaining your goals and objective. Let’s take the goal of increasing your mailing list by 15 percent. One strategy to achieve this could be to place a spot on your website where a visitor can register to be included in your mailing list. Another strategy could be that, at any showing of your artwork, you have a guest book where people sign in with their mailing and e-mail addresses. Yet another strategy could be this: No matter where you are, if someone takes an interest in your artwork, you will ask for his or her mailing information. To further break down your strategy into digestible bits, you may want to set a target of a certain number of new registrations each month. You can assign target amounts per month for each strategy. Then you can proceed to develop strategies for every goal you’ve listed.

Measuring progress

So at this point you have examples of an objective, goals and strategies in place, but you aren’t finished yet. Unless there’s a way to measure how your strategies are working, you won’t have any idea how successful you are at reaching your goals. The measurements for each strategy should vary. Some may be very easy to measure, while others may take some creativity and legwork.

. . . .

Boosting art skills

In addition to advancing an art business, the OGSM concept can also be an instrument for boosting art skills. For example, a sample of this type of objective could be to focus on improving the quality of your art by developing strong design and harmonious color in your paintings. Your sample goals could be to be accepted into two national shows and to begin your journey to becoming a signature member of an art association. Some strategies could be to attend selected workshops, study various instructional books and DVDs, seek out a mentor and practice by doing a painting a day. Measurements for this objective could be how many of the designated workshops you complete and how many of the books and DVDs you study, whether or not you find a mentor and, finally, how successful you are at completing a painting a day. Your ultimate, longer-term measurement would be whether you get into the national shows and eventually obtain signature status in a society.

Through these examples, I’ve shown how using an OGSM framework can help you hold yourself accountable as an artist and keep you focused and inspired to reach your objective and goals—for both the business and creative aspects of your art. By clearly stating your objective, your goals and the strategies for attaining each goal—and by measuring your progress against each goal—you can maintain a more direct and informed path to a successful and satisfying career.


Linda Fisler is an artist and a business mentor at, where she adapts her 26 years of experience as a manager at Procter & Gamble to help artists develop business skills.

Excerpted from the May 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Used with the kind permission of The Artist’s Magazine, a publication of F+W Media, Inc. Visit to subscribe.


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