Good business planning may not come as naturally to those of us working in creative fields as the business of, well, actually creating. However, it is crucial to set out what exactly it is you want to do. What is your basic idea? Where do you want to go? And what are the stepping stones to get there? Setting all this out within the structure of a business plan will provide you with a really handy personal tool to refer back to, and is essential if looking for funding – either from a bank, friends/family or a crowd-funding platform.
There are numerous good examples on high street bank and business start-up websites. But, at its very simplest, it is worth considering the following:
- Company name, introduction and background, personnel, office location and company values
- Ownership, management and delegation of responsibilities
- Short, medium and long term business objectives
- What services the company offers and its fees
- Equipment – what the company owns
- Key suppliers of equipment and materials
- Key partners – ie other people/organisations whose services you may need
- SWOT Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
- Company marketing strategy and areas to expand
- General short, medium and long term goals
- Training to undertake and ongoing professional development
- Financial projections and funding proposals
- Cashflow forecast (money in and out of the business bank account)
This is the theory. In practice, your business will grow and evolve according to what you find yourself best at, what your customers most want and what you find you most enjoy. You may find yourself specialising and moving into new areas, and so your business plan will need to be revisited and revised to reflect this. For example, when I first set out designing gardens, I anticipated my time being spent mostly at a drawing board – actually designing. In reality, though, it was through the mark-up on selling plants that our greatest profit came and so we adjusted our business plan and practice accordingly.