Life Modelling, Inner Confidence & Writing (a Business Plan with Lucy)

Last night I went to bed thinking how amazing is Lucy Saunders! Yesterday she ran a workshop in creating the business plan when you start up your own business. It was held on an estate in Wandsworth for the Women of Wandsworth Mums Enterprise group.

With the current government kicking millions off the dole and yet few jobs, there is a massive need nation wide for business know-how and confidence, especially among those who have been outside of the business arena for some years or indeed all their lives. The WoW Mums are mostly single parents with a variety of skills from accounting to video making and charity setting up. They have found they get very organised with local issues like saving libraries and adventure playgrounds and keeping young kids off the streets by setting up sports clubs etc, but feel somewhat remote from the reality of making money out of these not inconsiderable activities. They have also found they naturally work for each other, and therefore do so for free in a bartering system, but as their benefits are cut, they will have to turn social capital into pounds.

Lucy began the morning by saying how brave she thought they were  – they already did something which terrified her – claiming benefits!! She has a mortal fear of form filling, explaining that life doesn’t fit in a form, she always looks for connections and cannot box things up simply.

She pointed out as well – if you can manage a household budget, you can manage the finances of a business. She set about demystifying the language of the business plan. She explained how she is a words person, others operate best in pictures, but the language of the plan is unfortunately in numbers, so that’s what you have to deal with.

In 2 short hours Lucy covered a lot of ground from deciding on your business, marketting, costs, having a surplus (people seemed to be allergic to the term profit), principles of selling, checking in with your plan periodically, real cost of hiring staff, how customers will pay and whether it is worth getting a loan. She ended by handing out copies of a book she ordered to inspire the group – ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be’, by Paul Arden and proffering the homework  that each person must sell something – anything – in the next 2 weeks, be it at a car boot sale or on ebay or wherever, the point is to observe what is involved in the process.

What Lucy intended to leave the group with was the message that failure is fine; most projects don’t work the first time round, but then you will learn; a business doesn’t have to be new but can be your own version of an existing idea and in fact this way you know there is a market.  She generally wanted to instil confidence as well as challenge their assumptions, for example stating that big mark ups in price in many trades, are entirely normal.

We originally approached these women to model for us, but they are clearly more interested in learning some business tactics. Very wise. If they thought life modelling would be lucrative I am sure they would give it a go. Lucy does say that life modelling gives you great experience in running yourself as a business, as you are mostly self employed. It’s true and one of the things I love about it is not being employed by any one body or boss – I am independent and to some extent choose where I go to work. I rarely get paid for holidays or being sick, but I feel free to say what I think. There is no given protocol for the delicate nature of appropriately talking to a life model, so it’s up to you to let others know how it works if they transgress sensitivity. What I mean is, some tutors almost apologise for your nudity in front of a class, revealing their own discomfort/horror at the idea of being nude in that situation. They almost without realising it shame you as doing something no normal person would do. To my mind that ought to be challenged, but is most effectively done so subtley.

Here are some pictures from a session I recently did in Tadworth with a group of artists who normally focus on landscapes. Once a year they have a model for figure drawing, and they asked me to keep my clothes on. They wanted some Degas style poses, thinking of dancers, and asked if I have done ballet and have a costume. I said I can do the poses, but I will wear what I would when I go dancing.

water colour by Chris Dolling

I really enjoyed working with this group; http://www.tadworthartgroup.org.uk/.

Author: estherbunting

Performer, artist, writer

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