My business plan: the final project of my Small Business Start-up Management class. I’ve been putting it off for days, weeks, months. Oh, I started working on it sometime last week, but whenever I tried to spend time on it, I felt like I was staring at a wall. Maybe because the whole reason I took this class was to get some business experience on behalf of a friend with a wonderful start-up idea. I had intended to use their idea as the model for the business plan I would have to submit at the end of the semester (with their permission, of course). And then we had a falling out and I couldn’t, in good conscience, use their idea as my model anymore. Not without their permission. Not given the broken state of our friendship. And maybe that was why the business plan project suddenly became impossible to me: every time I tried to make progress on it, it was just a painful reminder of something I could not fix. My half-hearted, half-started business plan stared me in the face and called me a hypocrite.
So, here I am. My business plan is due tonight. The purpose statement of the plan reads as follows: “The purpose of this plan is to provide a roadmap for developing an after-school music program for children of low-income families who either cannot afford private music study or do not have access to a music program in their regular school.” I decided to go with this idea a week ago and began the tedious process of filling in the outline of the plan. I didn’t really have a solid vision to help guide the process. I had arrived at the idea sort of by word association. It was a vague, nebulous concept and filling in the financial, legal, and logistical details was proving to be agonizingly difficult as my lack of business knowledge caught up with me.
Today I sat down to muscle through it. Still feeling totally uninspired and unmotivated, I decided that maybe I could get myself into the business planning spirit by sketching a floor plan for the building that would house my imaginary after-school music program. While my floor plan drawing abilities would make any architect laugh, the simple act of visualizing the space proved to be more effective than I had expected. For the first time in working on this project, I started to feel excited as I watched my vision take shape. Two big rooms for ensemble instruction, smaller rooms for group instruction, and four even smaller rooms for private instruction. I started to wonder if there would be room in the budget for practice rooms. I mean, why stop at providing music lessons for these kids? I was already envisioning them in after-school ensembles, and imagining “field trips” to outside concerts, to professional music schools, to university music programs. If I was going to do all that, shouldn’t I make sure they had a place to practice too?
And it was in that moment of thinking about the practice rooms when the vision hit me: not just a program. A school. A school of music, designed especially for those who could never afford such a thing under normal circumstances. Run by people who were passionate about making music accessible to everyone. Staffed with instructors who were committed to serving these kids, touching their lives through music, and helping them become the best that they could be. A place that would be beautiful: full of light and sound. A community where excellence would be pursued… and human limitations would be accepted.
And it was in that moment of thinking about the practice rooms that I felt as if God reached out and touched me on the shoulder and said, “See? I told you I had plans for you. I can fix broken friendships. I can restore broken spirits.” And suddenly, my business plan wasn’t a chore anymore, or an unspoken accusation. Instead, it was a chance to dream and, in dreaming, to hope.