So you want to create a business plan? Well, maybe you don’t want to, but if you are reading this article you have likely determined that you need to, and that is a good first step! Creating a business plan doesn’t have to be as painful as it might sound, and depending on what you need it for, it probably doesn’t need to be as long as you might think!
The first step in determining your business plan is to decide why you need one. Most people think of business plans as just a tool for funding. If you need funding, this is going to be a very important part of that process, and you may need to consult with a business coach or accountant in order to finalize your plan. But, if your goal is to get direction for your business as well as some organization to help you maximize your productivity and profits, then this is could be the plan for you!
Let’s face it; the end goal of any real business is to make profits. Even if you are running an arts-based business and the goal of your art is to impact the world and make a difference, the goal of selling it is to make money. Sometimes as artists it is easy to get our mindset stuck in the art aspect of the business and not the business aspect. Having a business plan in place will help you with that balance and will help you set some measurable goals that you can use to gauge where your business is at.
The main categories you are going to want to cover in your business plan are your mission, your vision for your business, your goals, your strategies, and your projected financials.
The dreaded mission statement. It can be a serious cause for writer’s block, but it doesn’t have to be. Think back to when you first started your business. Why did you do it? Does your business fill a need that your potential clients have? Once you have established why you are in business it should be a lot easier to come up with a mission statement. If you still feel stuck, do some research on the mission statements of other businesses that you admire and use that inspiration to write your own statement.
Where do you see your business at this time next year? How about five years from now? This is your chance to write out the vision for your business. This can be simple or complex; it is up to you. When planning the vision for your business be specific about where you see your business going. This is going to help you keep your focus and clarity throughout the year.
What do you want to accomplish for your business? Goals can be simple such as: add one new product weekly to the online store, or they can be more complex like a redesign of a key product or launch of a new line. The key to writing effective goals is to make sure they are accomplishable. Nothing deflates a business persona quicker than goals that are not attainable by you alone. Something like, get my products sold at the largest retailer in my city would not be a goal you would want to add to your business plan. You may be able to accomplish this, but it requires a decision that is out of your control and therefore not something that should be included on your business plan. Instead, you can add to your goals that you will contact them, mail them a brochure and request a meeting with the buyer. Don’t be afraid to dream big, but just remember to keep the goals you set for your business within your reach alone.
What strategies will you use to accomplish your goals? If one of your goals is to grow your online email newsletter subscribers, how are you going to do that? Some strategies could be to add a newsletter signup to the checkout page on your IndieMade.com website, or promote your newsletter list to your current Facebook fans. Accomplishing your goals will be a lot easier if you have actionable items in place for each goal. It may also be helpful for you to plan these out on a quarterly basis so that you have a timeline and a way to measure your success.
Lastly, you will want to project out your financials. This can be hard for businesses that are new, but this step is definitely not to be overlooked! You really do need to know the financial health of your business in order to succeed. This is where you will take note of all the expenses that you have, all the sales you project for the year, and then see what type of profits you can expect. If you need help with this step it might be a good idea to check out some online templates, or, if your business is complicated, you may want to have an accountant help you with this step. You will learn important things in the financial section of your business plan such as how many sales you need in order to profit, and also whether or not your pricing needs to be revised.
Once you have all these sections worked out it, this document will serve to help you stay focused on your goals and strategies and will help the success of your business. Happy planning!