If you are planning on becoming an entrepreneur, we have developed a general guideline for writing a business plan for creative professionals. It can be stressful building a business from the ground up. Luckily, we have your first step to success covered!

The first step to successfully launching your business involves creating a business plan. A business plan allows you to create realistic and specific business goals. It also requires that you thoroughly analyze how these goals can be achieved and in what time frame they should be met. Most importantly, a business plan is critical for applications to receive financial aid.

Grab a cup of coffee (or any beverage of choice!), get comfy, open a separate document and let’s write your business plan!

Part 1: Client Summary

Who are your clients? Who do you want them to be? If you have a specialty, you should take that into account here. It can be helpful to do some demographic research and discover who exactly you want to target and who you should be targeting. It will give you some basic data on the clients that will give you the greatest return or reward for your work. Google Forms is a cheap and easy way to create a survey for your demographic research and get some feedback and gain useful information. This includes the age groups most interested in your products/services, their industries, income level (willingness to pay), and other information that will help with the following business plan elements.

Part 2: Brand Summary

This part of the business plan for creative professionals is where you will include a brief summary of your brand. Describe the products/services that you offer and what differentiates you from your competition. You need to figure out the unique value that you offer to your clients and create a brand that portrays this message. Think about your brand image and how you want your clients to perceive your brand.

Part 3: Market Validation

Market validation is essentially where you test the response of the clients in your target market to your product/service concept before officially launching them. You will receive constructive feedback on your ideas from the viewpoint of potential clients. This will reduce the risk of a failed launch if it does not meet the needs or wants of your target market. Thus, this is a great trial and error run to learn and improve from (if negative) or capitalize on (if positive).

Part 4: Competitive Analysis

This part is where you take a look at who your competitors are and analyze how they compare to what you offer. A competitive analysis should include the strengths and weaknesses of your current and potential competitors. Afterwards, you will be able to identify your opportunities and threats. Once you have identified these, you can develop strategies to mitigate potential threats and take advantage of the opportunities that exist. The competitive analysis is important for ensuring that your business will have a competitive advantage. You want to avoid offering identical or inferior products/services when compared to your competitors.

Part 5: Business Goals

What are your short- and long-term business goals? Basically, your short-term business goals should help you achieve your long-term business goals. At this point, you need to decide what you want your business to achieve from a financial, growth, and market share perspective. Other business goals may include innovation, research and development, acquiring assets, intellectual property, and more. Once you have set your business goals, make a brief plan for how you can achieve these goals.

Part 6: Services + Products

After conducting initial market research, setting your client base, and discovering your target clients’ perception on your product/service concepts, you can now finalize the services and/or products that you will offer. Although, you will need to develop a strategy for the factors that will go into your offering(s).

For instance, let’s say you are a graphic designer. You may have service-based offerings and product-based offerings. For your service, you might offer customized logo designs. However, you might have different packages to suit different needs. One package could include only a customized logo design, whereas another package might include 2 different customized logo designs and a business card design. For the product-based offerings, you could offer different packages that include universal graphic designs for sale. Describe and differentiate the offerings that you will sell.

Part 7: Pricing

There are three major pricing strategies; competition-based, customer value-based, and cost-based pricing. Competition-based pricing is where you price your offerings based on your competition. If you think that you offer unique value, you can price your offerings slightly higher than your competition. On the other hand, you can price slightly lower to have a price advantage for being the cheaper alternative. Customer value-based pricing is where you price your offerings based on the value that your customer perceives your they are worth. In other words, this strategy matches your price with their willingness to pay. Finally, cost-based pricing allows you to price your offerings to cover your costs and reach the financial goal you have set. Despite the benefits of the competition-based pricing and the cost-based pricing, it may not match the value your clients place on your offerings.

Part 8: Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan should include – at a minimum – the 4 P’s. This marketing mix consists of Product, Promotion, Place, and Price. Product and price were already covered previously in the business plan, so I won’t go into more detail on those aspects. Just be sure to expand on those from a marketing stand-point. Place refers to where your products/services are accessible for sale. This can include a physical location or a website. If it is a physical location, be sure to do a geographical analysis. This will allow you to find a location that will gain maximum reach for your target clients. If it is a website, justify why that is the most beneficial option to reach your target clients. Furthermore, promotion involves how you will promote your products/services to your target clients.

Part 9: Workflows + Processes

Last, but certainly not least, is workflows and organizational processes. Here you need to find ways to track your everyday tasks and responsibilities, your progress, and goals. Enhancing productivity and efficiency is important. Discover what you can handle and what you should hand off to professionals, such as your marketing, accounting (bookkeeping and tax), legalities, and more. Besides that, there are several beneficial workflow apps that exist and make your small business tasks that much easier to handle.

Here at UpSide, we help creative professionals like yourself experience success and growth. You are a creator, not a number-cruncher. Our team at UpSide Accounting helps you get back on track financially so that you can focus on what you do best! If you think that the accounting side of your business is only adding unnecessary stress, maybe it’s a sign that it is worth having experienced professionals handle it for you. If you want to learn more about how we can help you and your business, we would be happy to chat.