Developing a Personal Business Model for Artistic Success

Using the framework of Alexander Osterwalder’s canvas and an entrepreneurial process, you will create a business model for your professional “self.”  You will create an idea for a business, develop it into a concept, and then complete a business model that can be used as a pathway for present and future business opportunities.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • Understand and use the “canvas” as a tool to identify opportunities for your work
  • Identify who your are/what you have as key resources
  • Identify the critical tasks that must be performed to develop your personal business model
  • Understand how key activities result in value to customers
  • Determine and acquire resources necessary to create value for others
  • Create revenue and benefits

Presenter: Sharon T. Alpi is the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University. She teaches the senior seminar for the entrepreneurship curriculum and was one of three Millikin professors to develop the Art of Entrepreneurship program at Millikin. Sharon also works with the Coleman Foundation's Council for Entrepreneurship Awareness and was recently named to the board of the Self-Employment in the Arts Conference.

The series is funded in part by grants from The Coleman Foundation, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, as well as a CityArtsGrant from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.

Survival Guide is produced by Chicago Artists Coalition for Chicago Artists Resource.

Building a Business Model

Building a Business Model

  • What are the goals?
  • Visualizing what it will take to start your business
  • Rationalizing why it is important
  • Developing strategies for relaying your vision


Starting a Business Model

  • What do your customers want?
  • Why do they care?
  • What are the costs?
  • What is the revenue?
  • How do you get paid?
Additional Resources

Identifying and Connecting with Customers

Who Are the Customers?

  • Existing Customer Profiles
  • Potential Customer Profiles
  • How can you add value for them?


Growing Customers

  • Get, Keep, Grow
  • Beneficiaries
  • Data Mining for Good Information
  • Collecting Good Data


Sizing the Community

  • Why does size & location matter?
  • Where does my subject matter resonate the most?
  • Where is there the most potential to share and grow my work?
  • Where do I have the most opportunity?


Serving Customers

  • How the model helps serve customers
  • Identify the partnerships and resources that will be needed
  • Helps us know what we will be able to do in the future
  • Helps us know what we will NOT be able to do in the future
  • Why saying "no" can be important for your business


Delivering Value

  • What is delivering value?
  • Needs to connect with your audience
  • How do you deliver your value & how do your customers find you?


Additional Resources

Value and Pricing

Value Proposition

  • Why is value proposition important?
  • Evaluating value proposition


Communicating Value

  • Your responsibility
  • Optimizing communication strategies
  • Key elements of collateral material
  • Additional strategies
  • Remember



  • The role of pricing in brand awareness
  • Key factors in determining pricing
  • Pricing is important
Additional Resources

Business Growth

Penetrating a Market

  • One Approach
  • Business Growth
  • Key question: What are the next 3-4 steps needed to leverage relationships created through pro-bono work that will make it pay in the future?


Minimizing Risk

  • How to minimize risk
  • Physical space
  • A combination of accommodations
  • Think creatively about available space
  • How to Start
  • Your practice is the foundation
  • Don't wait for everything to perfect
  • Always ask


Higher Value

  • Partners & Soulful Alliances
  • Partners
  • Contractual business arrangement
  • Soulful Alliances


Partners & Soulful Alliances

  • Additional benefits to partners & soulful alliances
  • Where to grow stronger networks & find mentors


Additional Resources



  • 3 kinds of capital
  • Strategies for raising capital
  • Love money
  • Grants & foundations
  • Angel networks
  • Community foundations
  • Business Model will Guide You

Capturing Value

  • Can I generate the revenue?
  • If the answer to these questions is not…


Generating Revenue

  • Where will the income come from?
  • How to plan for revenue to cover the costs we will incur
  • Business needs to have economies of scale in order to grow over time
  • A realistic model can be used to grow the business to a new level 


Additional Resources

Business Finances

Fixed Cost

  • What is fixed cost?


Variable Cost

  • What is variable cost?


Financial Modeling

  • Making realistic assumptions
  • How to allocate fixed costs


Additional Resources



  • What will it take to be happy?
  • How are you delivering value?
  • How are you capturing value?
  • You don't have to go it alone


Additional Resources