Creating your first business plan can be daunting if you've never done one before - but it doesn't have to be. Approaching it with the right mindset can go a long way, and can help you build a business plan that will help your business grow from strength to strength. Lisa Borrie is the founder of So Visualise, a creative prop hire business. Here's how she created her first ever business plan.
While the colourful, visual design worlds we work in can be unconventional and eclectic, my business plan, perhaps in contrast, was very structured and detailed.
The business plan represents a business journey: you can plan your progress and the path you want to take in order to achieve your goal or reach your destination. Seeing your plan pay off and your business develop is the best feeling. For example, we recently exhibited at the VM and Design Show in London - but if you had told us three years ago that recognition and a complementary invitation to this event would be on the books, I wouldn’t have believed it!
Approaching market research
When I first set out with So… Visualise, I thoroughly researched the market. Happily I couldn’t find a prop hire company that was similar to ours; we are niche and bespoke, and that’s our USP.
As our client base grew, our reputation for delivering beyond expectation flourished, and the business snowballed from there. While carrying out my research, I also realised that nothing stands still. There’s always something new to consider, or a trend or a theme, or a new challenge on the horizon - market research is an ongoing process!
Learning to be flexible
Creating my business plan was a challenge as it highlights strengths and weaknesses (some of which you’re not always aware of!). While a business plan might entail a three or five year plan, a vital skill I’ve developed is flexibility, as things will alter. There have been times my business journey has taken me along a totally different route to what was originally expected, and being adaptable and flexible is key. Being flexible means you can develop your skill-set and gradually work out where best to spend your energies. It helps you develop the skill of recognising that something is not working.
Creating a financial plan
All of us are in business to make a living - so whatever your business, a financial plan is a must. My financials involved drilling down to the finest details: looking at packaging costs, materials, time taken to deliver a project, costings for faulty items and so on. It will take some in-depth research to compare your prices. And you need to take into account your locality and your target client. What are their budgets and expectations? You have to be accurate with these and learn to adjust if something turns out not to be quite right.
Key lessons learnt
Outsource certain aspects of business. Paying a skilled individual can be money well-spent, saving you valuable time.
There is a lot of hard work involved in setting up a business from scratch, yet it’s just the start of a fascinating quest - stay positive!
For the creative worlds we work in, visual merchandising to name just one, you never know who is going to call you and with what request. It is can definitely be random with some unusual yet fun design briefs. Meet those challenges, yet also be realistic and your clients will respect this.
Nurturing and learning about your craft is essential, and sometimes you have to take a risk.
And if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. It could open a whole new path!
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