Monday, 5 August 2013

Guest Post: Designing a Business Plan for your creative business

This guest post comes to us from the fabulous Helen Roe from The Orange Lantern who provides marketing and business planning for creatives. 

Do you have a business plan? Why does your business need one? Does the thought of creating your business plan or even updating it leave you cold? A business plan is the cornerstone of your business. Here we look at why you need to invest time in creating your business plan.

You’re an artist. Regardless of what you make, design, create or even service you offer, your business plan is an extension of you.  Your business vision and values are reflected in this work of art. The ‘document’ or ‘template’ that you may have (gathering dust somewhere?) needs to be a breathing, living, work in progress.

 Your Business Plan guides you, directs you and keeps you focused on where you’re going. It’s your roadmap to business growth and success.

A business plan does not have to be boring. Just because you need to include a spreadsheet or financials along with goals, strategies and actions does not mean you can’t include colour, personality and you. If your business plan is to be an extension of you it needs to reflect that – your vision, your voice and your thoughts.

Here’s the milestones you need to cover:
Executive Summary
This is a brief overview of your business, your business mission, purpose and vision. As this sums up your whole business in a nutshell it’s often easier to write last, after doing the rest of the plan.

Business Vision & Values
This company overview forms the foundation for the rest of your plan. Here you describe what type of business you’re in, where you want to go and what’s important to you and your business.

Business Landscape
The competitive analysis is where you take a look at your industry, your marketplace. Once you understand your marketplace you can identify your opportunity and niche, where you stand out from the competition.

Marketing Plan
This is where you spread the word and outline how you will get your product/service out there, into the hands of your perfect customers. You establish goals, tactics/strategies and assign a budget to each activity. Your sales process is also included here.

Financial Picture
Your business is no longer a hobby when you have a proper financial plan. You track all the money flowing out of your business and into your business. It tells you how you will make the moola, outlining how much you need to sell, and how much you need to make to be a profitable business.

Your Team
This is human resources – the people that support you and your business. Here you describe your skillsets, qualifications and experience and identify who helps you, what they do and what they get paid.

Action Plan
Here’s where you outline how you will implement and get things done. This is about taking your business vision and values and making them real. You set goals, identify tactics or strategies to achieve them and detail your action plan or ‘to do’s’ to get the job done.

Operational Plan
This section describes your business systems, processes and procedures. Here you talk about what you do from the first customer call or encounter through to delivery and customer support. It’s steps, flow charts, arrows and all that lovely stuff.

A visual Business Plan overview
And finally, here’s some tips to get you started:

Get started with some Free downloads and playsheets over at

Use inspirational material for your business plan. It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal, typed and bound. See here for some great ideas.

Get it all down – it’s okay if it’s not in the right sections. Brain dump ideas and inspirations, you can tidy things up later. It does make sense to start with your business vision and values, the fun part! The details will then follow.

Then take each section at a time, building and adding as you go. Remember this is a work in progress document. You can revisit a section at any time.

Need help with yours? The Orange Lantern is a licensed facilitator for The Right Brain Business Planning workshops.These are fun, interactive workshops where you get to create your real, authentic business plan, your visual map for the success of your business.

Click here for my next workshop dates. I also offer consulting sessions on business planning for creatives. Contact me if you have any questions 

Helen Roe