Lessons I Learned from Launching a Business Without an Actual Plan

I'd touted a June launch, and I aimed to deliver.

But in the month and a half or so that passed between deciding to start my own business and the unofficial target launch date, my game plan changed.

More accurately, my game plan morphed and molded because it was never anything solidified in the first place.

Lessons I Learned from Launching a Business Without an Actual Plan — from Delaney Gibbons Studio


I didn’t know what I wanted my business to be, I only knew that I was desperate to get cracking on a solution to end the Monday through Friday 9-to-5 workday cycle. Nothing makes me feel more confined and stunted than 3 cubicle walls and a chair that doesn’t really belong to me.

So I started promoting Delaney Gibbons Studio, unsure of what it was even going to be. Custom marketing or design services for bloggers and online shops? Pre-made digital marketing kits? Web design? Portraits? Strictly commissioned custom paintings?

All during this, I had in the back of my mind (...or, you know, right at the forefront) how I was embarking on a big life change really soon: leaving my salaried full time job with benefits for a new city in which I had few contacts and fewer job prospects. And as a twenty-something with a monthly student loan payment higher than my NYC rent and bills combined, I didn't exactly have a thriving savings account.

I like to make decisions, I hate to wait around, and I am proactive to a fault. Those three character traits played no small part in my needing to get something going before I got to Chicago in August. But it might have had a little more to do with my feeling nervous about leaving a place I rely on. NYC has been my address for the last 9 years, but I had to face the reality that I was ready to move on.

New York doesn't fuel me with inspiration like it used to. When I first got to the city as a 19 year old, I was terrified, but so ready to be taken out of my comfort zone, shocked, inspired. I wanted to learn about the world outside of my Catholic school education (and oh boy, did I). I wanted to learn how to make art and write stories that affected people and connected people and made even one soul live a bit lighter. And oh boy, did I.

New York taught me a million and one things, but most of all, how to be okay with transience.

Maybe that’s why it feels right that my sketchbooks lately are saturated with ideas about traveling home. It might seem to an outsider, or my mom, that home is just what I’m leaving, but I don’t see it that way. I’m starting a new chapter in a new place with someone who feels more a part of me than any place ever has.

Home is not the place, home is your perception of a place. Home is a feeling. That catchy-as-hell song totally had it right: Home is wherever I’m with you.

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So I heralded a June launch of something that didn't yet exist. But in a bunch of little ways, I still delivered. I was a featured #boldboss along with some other awesome ladypreneurs over at Bold & Pop. I soft-launched a digital marketing product I’d been passionate about creating for a while, and worked out a lot of the kinks that come along with selling digital products. I started an email list. I networked with other passionate creative entrepreneurs like myself. I began laying the groundwork, however basic, for a sustainable, fulfilling business.

I felt a little better about off-roading from my original intended plan after reading this article by Joanna Waterfall of Yellow Co

“You’re never going to figure out what direction to head if you just sit there thinking about it. That’s just plain stressful. You have to get out in the world, choose something to focus on, and ENGAGE...Only from engagement can you revise, mold, sharpen and rebuild if you need to.”

It took some time, but I finally have the Studio at a place that feels right. I love, LOVE learning new things (webinar junkies, unite), so having a place to store and share resources with likeminded passionate creatives is...well, it feels like home.