Artists and entrepreneurs are creatures of similar nature – both obsessed with turning an idea into reality. So it’s not a stretch of imagination when an artist or creative person sets out to start their own business and excels at it. History, it seems, definitely leans in the favour of the creatives here. But, starting a business means creating a business plan for your entrepreneurship which can seem migraine-inducing to the right-brained. And yet, it doesn’t have to be. But before we delve into the nitty-gritty of it all, let’s first discuss what a business plan actually is and why it’s important that you have one!
A business plan, at its core, is nothing but a document that you write for potential investors, partners or lenders to give them an understanding of your business’ mission and vision, so they can make a well-informed decision to support your business. At the risk of sounding dramatic, a well-crafted business plan can be the very cornerstone of your business. It is an extension of you and your business, and as such, it needs to reflect your vision, your thoughts and ideas.
Think of your business plan as you would think of your CV – lay out your achievements, strengths, objectives for the future and remember to target it to your audience, both immediate and future readers.
Keeping in mind the importance of this document, we at TYS have compiled a list of tips that you can follow for charting the business plan of your dreams (pun intended).
IMAGE COURTESY – AMANDA GENTHER
1. Stick To The Basics
Ask any expert and they’ll tell you that every business plan must contain certain specific elements that cover all aspects of your business. A business plan is not the place to be verbose about the what-where-and-how of your venture. Be to the point while documenting the following facets;
- Executive Summary – This is the starting one-page nutshell of your business. It should include the background of your business, your mission, vision and tagline. It should be shirt and to the point.
- Market Need – Document the “problem” your product is addressing by being in the market. Why is there a need for your product?
- Your Solution – Provide a description of how your product solves the above-mentioned “problem.
- Target Market – Explain concisely who your business is targeting. Who’s your ideal client? What is their income level, age criteria, etc.? How much will they be willing to spend? A survey of your current/prospective customers will be useful to gather such information.
- Competition – Go into detail about your competitors. Who are they? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What is their business strategy like? How is your product different or better than theirs?
- Human Resource – If you’re planning to hire a team for your venture, then list out the staff you’ll need to run your business, their skill requirements, experience requirements, how much you can afford to pay them, etc.
- Marketing Plan – This is where you show how exactly you’re planning to reach your customers. Provide a general idea of what your marketing strategy will look like (the details will be given in the Marketing Plan – which is another important document).
- Operations – Here you’ve to document how you’ll get the job done in the most efficient way possible. Document everything here from when you take an order to the point of delivery.
- Financials: Budgeting and Forecasting – Determine how much money you require to open and run your business? How much money is required for raw materials and processing? How many products do you want to sell yearly and how much will they cost? What is your projected profit of the year?
- Funding Needs – Here, you’ll document how much money you need from potential investors to run your business and you must specify how and what you’ll be using said funds for.
IMAGE COURTESY – ENTREPRENEUR
2. Be Realistic
You want to show the investors why and where your business is going to make money. So be honest to yourself. Consider all opportunities and challenges that are in your way. You’ve a strong idea to lead with, so stay truthful to it. There’s no need to embellish your business plan beyond what’s necessary and true. It’ll go a long way in wooing potential investors if they can see for themselves that not only are you sincere, but you’re also grounded in reality.
3. Keep It Visual
Use visuals like graphs, charts and images in your plan wherever possible but don’t overdo it. Visuals can help explain the trickier bits better than text can, and they also help in maintaining the flow of the text.
Pip Jamieson, founder and CEO of The Dots, emphasises on the importance of visuals by stating,
A good rule of thumb is that if someone can flick through your business plan in 10 minutes and get it, you’ve done a cracking job.
4. Be Creative
Every creative person has a unique style and voice. Don’t shy away from projecting that into your business plan. The investors know and expect you to be creative, so there’s no need to be stuffy. Trust your creative vision and let it guide you.
IMAGE COURTESY – THE GUARDIAN
5. Revisit And Adapt
Trust the ancient adage of “change being the only constant” and structure your business plan to be versatile. As you and your business grow, your plans and projections will also change. So be sure to document these in your business plan.
Elaborating on the need to be versatile, Scott Phillips, founder of Rise Art, says,
We continue to iterate and improve on our business plan each quarter. I’m constantly looking at the latest research and speaking with our customers to see how we are doing in the real world. Our business plan always changes based on what we’ve seen that has worked and what’s not.
Remember and practice the basic idea behind evolution, “only those who adapt, survive.”
6. Ooze Passion
You’re starting your business because you’re passionate about your vision. Show that through your business plan. Besides ticking the boxes of what a business plan must contain, you also need to make the investors see that you’re passionate about your business and willing to go the extra mile. Your readers should be able to glean how inspired and motivated you are in making your business a success.
While these tips will prove helpful while you’re creating your business plan, you should not be completely dependent on them. Like anything else in life, we learn the most when we try (and fail). So don’t be disheartened if you get it wrong on the first try or something just doesn’t seem to click. Keep at it. Revise and refine your business plan until you’ve in your hand the best plan possible!