The Power of Planning
by Ellen O’Hara
I’ve been working with creative businesses as a consultant and coach for nearly ten years now. So I know that creative people and business planning aren’t always the most natural bedfellows.
In my experience, a small craft business owner will tend to take an opportunistic and organic approach to business growth to begin with. And while this may produce some good results, it may not get you where you want to be quickly enough or maximise what you are really capable of. This is when a more strategic and planned approach to growth comes in. Methodical planning may not come naturally to some designer-makers, but creative, lateral thinkers make the best problem solvers – a major bonus when you are juggling big ideas on small budgets.
The process goes like this:
1. Define your vision and goals. If you’re already in business, review your current situation so you are clear of where you are now, what’s going well and what needs some improvement.
2. Research you market to test your idea and identify what the options for achieving your goals are.
3. Formulate your strategy – in other words what’s your marketing plan and what resources do you need to put this into place.
4. Implement your plan – get busy doing!
5. Review and monitor your progress and revise you plans accordingly.
“But I don’t really see myself as a business” I hear you say, “so what’s the point?” Well, it’s the thought process behind writing a business plan that I think is really valuable.
Assessing your current situation, taking time to think about where you really want to go in the future, researching and deciding how you might get there, and what resources will you need to achieve this are all worthwhile exercises to be undertaking. Recording this information in a way that’s useful to you acts as a roadmap, providing you with direction, focus and confidence that the decisions you are taking are well thought through (and the right one’s for you).
Not only that, but having a well thought out plan in place is proven to improve your chances of success. Here at Cockpit, the Business Development Team has been supporting an increasing number of studio holders to develop strategic growth plans over the years. And it’s reaping great results. In the last two years, the number of designer-makers with a business plan has increased from just 13% to 61%. And those with a marketing action plan have increased from 8% to 55%. More importantly 84% of the most profitable businesses at Cockpit have a formal business or marketing plan in place, proving the power of planning!
Get a long to a group planning workshop. Doing your research or brainstorming strategy ideas with others really helps to get the creative juices flowing.
Don’t forget to record your ideas somewhere so you can refer to them. Your business plan doesn’t have to be a big weighty document. An old client of mine hung their business plan in brown paper bags on a washing line in their studio – a different section of the plan on flash cards in each bag, which he would dip into as required. There’s a maker at Cockpit who’s converted their business plan into a colour coded mind map, pinned on their studio wall. It has key words and images relating to each aspect of the plan and is a constant visual reminder of where she’s heading (you know who you are!)
Break your plan into bite-sized, manageable chunks to make it easier to implement. And set in motion.
Finally, always make time to monitor and review your progress. As a team, we review progress against our targets weekly and monthly. The main business plan then gets re-written annually to reflect any changes and sets us on course for another year.
What are your experiences of business planning? Let us know you thoughts and comments…
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Tags: goals, planning, research, values, Workshops