Most creatives probably tremble at the thought of creating a business plan, and most likely keep pushing it to the back burner until eventually they need one and throw something together that isn’t complete.
I’m going to show you an easier way to go about creating your business plan, with basic steps that shouldn’t be too daunting, if you take them one at a time.
What is actually a business plan? –
A business plan is meant to guide your business in the right direction and document your thoughts and ideas for your business. It’s a structural tool that can keep you, your employees and your business on the correct path. The first purpose of a business plan is to identify the aspirations of the business.
Second, it’s needed to determine if these aspirations are feasible in the current economy.
Third, your business plan is needed to outline the steps you will take to reach your main objective. When I create my business plans, I like to lay it all out there first, and then start to remove pieces that are irrelevant. Think of your business plan as writing a book; you’ve determined the ending, but now you need to fill in how you will reach that desired ending.
You will want to be able to hand this business plan over to investors, peers, banks, attorneys, etc, so it’s important to keep a defined look. But, since we are creatives, don’t be afraid to play with the layout and colors, just don’t get too crazy! Keep it readable, clean and professional.
The basic elements of a business plan are:
- Executive Summary
- Target Customers/Ideal Clients
- Competition/Competitive Advantage
- Human Resources
- Marketing Plan
- Financial Projections
Business designers should be flexible, applying strategic, operational and organisational lenses to help create new and viable businesses for our clients. They should be highly analytical—adept with quantitative data and financial models.
They should be creative—capable of seeing potential directions and sensing opportunities and also should be experimental—eager to put ideas into action, crystallise thinking through prototyping, and test hypotheses against reality.
They have to move with ease between the world of our clients’ concerns and capabilities, and the world of the customers, consumers and citizens that they serve.
Specific responsibilities of a business plan designer include:
-Planning and executing business and economic research
-Synthesising business insights and communicating them in compelling ways
-Collaborating with teams of designers and design researchers to identify innovation opportunities and develop propositions that create value for people and client organisations
-Analysing and modelling how businesses and organisations work now, and how they could work in the future
-Designing, planning and executing business prototyping activities, to test and refine our hypotheses in-market
-Providing business advice to clients across industries and sectors
Business Design applies the principles and practices of design to help organizations create new value and new forms of competitive advantage. At its core, Business Design is the integration of customer empathy, experience design and business strategy.
How to write a sharp and wise business plan?
Write an executive summary
Write an elevator pitch
Talk about the business owner and the partners (if any)
Define the offerings
Describe the clients
Present the market research
Define your marketing strategy
Do a SWOT analysis
Define your USP
Explain how you’ll make money
Forecast your revenues
Outline your backup plan
Some more tips for a business plan designer:
- Write the business plan in your own voice. No need to be stuffy, you are a creative and the person you are presenting this business to will already know that. Creatives are great at creating their own unique voices and styles, so make sure you show that here.
- Keep your business plan versatile. It is very likely that it will change as your business grows, so be sure to document these changes.
- Stick to it! You should know your business plan inside and out, almost like a very long elevator pitch. When you make decisions for your business, you should take your business plan into account.
What makes a great business designer? Of course, there’s no simple answer, but there are qualities that help determine if a candidate might be a perfect fit. Here are three things we look for in applicants:
The Business Design provides the framework and tools for:
Understanding Customers – innovation begins with an unmet customer need. Customers often lack tools to articulate their own needs, and standard market research methodologies only scratch the surface.
Generating and Testing Ideas – turning unmet needs into innovation. This is about creating new ideas, getting customer feedback and doing rapid testing to get to a better solution.
Connecting to Strategy – New ideas will fail to flourish if they aren’t backed by a sound strategy, including a clear set of choices of how the organization is going to win.
Proof- Business designers are generally the only business mind and thus they must possess deep expertise in one or more areas and experience to draw upon and an ability to tackle challenges with conviction.
You’ll need to wear many hats throughout a project, and need to be confident that you’re ready to do so.
Potential –Business designers need to help determine what work should be done to explore, test, refine, and recommend a final solution.
In your prior career, you may not have had much room to do things as you would like, whether that’s due to team, budget, or time. With that in mind, you, as business plan designer, may face a challenge and may be asked to work through.
Passion – Business plan designers are those who not only have impressive backgrounds, but also have genuine and unique personal interests and are able to connect with others and make work better by identifying linkages and inspiration others might not see, something which is called analogous inspiration.
There’s a lot to think about when writing a business plan. But with careful planning and making sure you cover everything in-depth, as well as tailoring the plan to the person you’re writing it for, it’s really not that difficult.
And if you’re passionate about making a business a success, writing the plan will be the first step on that path.